Your First Time
[Barack Obama campaign ad, 2012]

Review by
Robert Wilfred Franson

Performer: Lena Dunham

Barack Obama Campaign: 2012

1 minute November 2012

Choosing for the Oval Office

Your First Time is a clever short video for the Barack Obama 2012 Presidential campaign, a one-minute reel in which Lena Dunham speaks of the importance of a young woman casting her first-time vote for someone with really beautiful (fill in the blank), someone who will be good for you and your issue henceforth, and so on: that is, give up your girlhood for Barack Obama. A thrust to what the Democratic Party leadership considers the heart, so to speak, of their appeal to voters.

I find this more amusing than offending to my sensibilities. Certainly the on-screen escalation of pseudo-intimacy in our culture is not likely to cease any time soon. Note that Lena Dunham speaks none of the "bad words" that one used not to be able to say on the radio. It's all suggestive, and better written for that, rather as the self-censorious Movie Code demanded more subtle scriptwriting in Hollywood from the mid-1930s through the mid-1960s.

Make your first vote count - Young Socialists for Jenness and Pulley, SWP 1972 We could better savor this tarted-up come-on to vote if in its larger context the American Constitution did not hang in the balance, and with it the survival of America and of Western freedoms — including that of women not to be mentally stifled and physically shrouded, even punished and executed after men take advantage of them. But this is political show business, and in your narrow voting booth you have to take what you can get.

There is nothing new in oral dexterity in the service of politics, of course. Cynics might say that politics consists of nothing else; but the body politic should not be coaxed into a perpetually submissive position, instead insisting it be held to a stiffer virtue.

Will Your First Time switch barely-legal young women voters into the desired position, politically speaking? Probably not. While it may send some first-timers laughing to the polls who were going to blow off the whole thing, attitudes of willfully "low-information voters" are not going to be changed. Anyone who feels the Earth move for the expressed issues is not substituting them for fundamental concerns about maintaining America as a Constitutional Republic.

Then we have the denigration of women's intelligence, virtue, affection, and lust to service some political standard. Some women find this in poor taste, if not immoral or ghastly. Referring to the importance of her first time as something to be given for beautiful easy promises is all too real an experience for many women. And even without her first time being taken by force or trickery or prepared speeches, in the cold light of day, perhaps not until sad years later, many women realize their first time did not go well. Maybe it felt good for a moment in the booth, maybe an afterglow, maybe even smug satisfaction of a boundary broken.

More experienced women may possess hard-learned principles, making them more confident and sure of how to use their freedom of that little booth — before they pull a lever for someone they scarcely know, or grasp a pen to tightly fill in their little oval for a name who only is a name. Thinking is better than peer pressure. Actions have consequences.


Alternate positions

Your First Time is a very popular minute, it has legs. After the dust of election settles, perhaps long after, surely this advertisement will rate mention in political and campaign histories. Understandably, Lena Dunham quickly became surfeited with hearing the Democratic Party's exhortation to vote with your lady parts applied to her advertisement.

If the film is unlikely to switch voters, we may as well try to appreciate the humor inherent in its proposition, even if less hysterically funny than some of its female fans rate it. We might even dismiss Your First Time as hysterical in the original sense of the wandering womb desperate for fulfillment at any price, but we would not want to be so cruel to a sincere performance, for we do find it funny.

Michelle Malkin's rejoinder is perhaps the best, simplest, and funniest: Vote with your lady smarts, not your lady parts!

If Lena Dunham's appeal doesn't tickle your fancy, but your seas are rising and you need an easy-tongued prompter for them, there's a traditional alternative leading to the same exploited result, dutiful acceptance: sashay into the polling place, pull back the curtain to reveal your Consent Booth, open your virgin ballot, and think of —

It's a rare politician with sufficient integrity to care why you give it up for him; just so that you do "consent".

More joy of filling in the oval

Diligent delvers into political antecedents have turned up a couple of recent and similarly suggestive brief reels for Vladimir Putin of Russia, another by Sarah Hanson-Young of Australia, as well as a quip by Ronald Reagan right before his 1980 landslide victory. Like Dunham's, these all have straightforward intent, even if presented humorously.

A winsome performer in such an bare appeal as Your First Time clearly spreads herself open for parodies expressing even more body language. I've enjoyed several:

What's next, in our civic relations? Go forth and multiply your votes! — Oh, already doing that? Well, we'll think of something.


© 2012 Robert Wilfred Franson

A larger context, for those thinking outside the booth:
The Worldwide 'War on Women'
by Jeannie DeAngelis
at American Thinker

Romance at Troynovant
dating, romantic love, marriage

Utopias at Troynovant
utopia in power, or dystopia

Pinback political button:
make your first vote count!
Vote Socialist Workers  
Young Socialists for    
Jenness & Pulley      

Socialist Workers Party, 1972


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