She's f*cking it up for all of us out here trying to make headway.
As a lifelong feminist, I never ever want to be the one to slap a hand over another woman's mouth. I've said it forever, but just because I don't like what another woman says doesn't mean I won't fight for her right to say it.
But HOLY SH*T, can we stop giving Lena Dunham a platform?! She's f*cking it up for all of us out here trying to make headway.
Dunham's casual brand of ignorance has made her the poster child of "White Feminism" that people of color (POC) activists point to as an example of why white girls are self-involved, privileged assh*les who can't be trusted to work for the collective good of all women. Because of her parade of insensitive statements, she has routinely drawn a line between white women and POC within the feminist movement.
This misrepresentation of cisgender Caucasian women she portrays directly influences the idea that we are inherently part of the problems that oppress the majority of females: a misconception a lot of us are desperately trying to shake. During her latest exercise in obtuse inanity, she somehow thought it would make her look super-sensitive to tell listeners of her podcast that she wished she'd had an abortion so she could truly understand the women whose rights she was fighting for while at a Planned Parenthood event.
To quote her,
"One day, when I was visiting a Planned Parenthood in Texas a few years ago, a young girl walked up to me and asked me if I'd like to be a part of her project in which women share their stories of abortions. I sort of jumped. 'I haven’t had an abortion,' I told her. I wanted to make it really clear to her that as much as I was going out and fighting for other women's options, I myself had never had an abortion. And I realized then that even I was carrying within myself stigma around this issue. Even I, the woman who cares as much as anybody about a woman’s right to choose, felt it was important that people know I was unblemished in this department. I feel so proud of them for their bravery, for their self-knowledge, and it was a really important moment for me then to realize I had internalized some of what society was throwing at us and I had to put it in the garbage. Now I can say that I still haven't had an abortion, but I wish I had."
There's a lot to unpack with this statement alone, starting with the fact that she felt that inserting herself into the narrative was necessary in order to adequately feel compassion for another human being. Then she asserted that getting an abortion is somehow a point of pride for women. (Hey, thanks for bolstering the argument for all those pro-lifers who still believe that "pro-choice" means "pro-abortion," Dunham! It's not like we've been struggling with that misconception literally forever!)
And, once again, she's painted this fantastic caricature for others to mock of the sheltered, privileged white lady who has no concept of how society works, but still feels compelled to make it about herself, to convey how she really does care, you guys.
Listen, I understand that any woman making bold statements about the world we live in will receive criticism, so maybe she's not paying attention to what everyone's saying about her because "haters gonna hate" and all that. I'm sure she's exhausted listening to people comment on her body or whether or not she's talented and deserves recognition just like every other woman who ever tried to do anything professionally, so I don't blame her for wanting to tune out the naysaying in a world that nitpicks superficial bullsh*t.
However, it's becoming more and more evident that Dunham not only has no idea how ignorant her statements are in a social context, but she also doesn't realize that her ignorance is proving to be harmful and outright dangerous to women who are marginalized thanks to the very same social misconceptions she is perpetuating.
Instead of banding together in a glorious, all-inclusive movement, feminism has been plagued by demographic segregation from the start, thus resulting in arguing amongst ourselves and ultimately stalling our progress. While the push for intersectionality is finally gaining momentum, all it takes is one unbelievably god-awful statement from Lena "Quirky Feminist du Jour" Dunham to drive the wedges between us deeper, as she represents the one type of woman who has always been able to pull ahead of the others despite her seemingly willful ignorance on race, sex, and — most recently — reproductive freedom.
To be fair, it isn't just her who is actively creating a paradigm of embarrassing white so-called feminists. Taylor Swift's problematic marketing of "feminism" involves her whining about women not supporting other women and then turning right around to make a crazy expensive, heavily-hyped music video involving all her friends gearing up to take down another grown woman she's singing about a childish feud with.
Demi Lovato attempts to combat Swift's ridiculousness by body-shaming Swift's entire group of friends just to sprinkle more catty bullsh*t on top of this whole turd smorgasbord. Meanwhile, Jennifer Lawrence is out there cackling about how she destroyed ancient religious relics of indigenous people by some cutesy accident she totally got away with and doesn't see the irony when she jokes "I was the curse!" as if people haven't been saying that about us white women for awhile now.
The cliché old Hollywood sh*tshow of women taking each other down now has this new trendy feminism filter over it as starlets cling to the zeitgeist to keep themselves relevant but keep making a mockery of the concept through their internalized misogyny. And at the forefront are these vapid, petty white girls painting us as the villains of the entire movement and hoping repeated Instagram apologies will clear things up.
Personally, I'm sick of these women misrepresenting and ultimately defining what I stand for as a white gal feminist. I can't be the only one.
Sure, these celebrities' behavior is cringe-worthy in its blatant lack of self-awareness but we as an audience have the power to change this public representation of what it means to be a white woman who identifies as a feminist. The media only publishes antics like the Lena Dunham abortion comment because they know it gets our attention and makes us angry — as well it should.
However, us obsessing and loudly criticizing the missteps of the most controversial white feminists not only encourages the media to fixate on them while perpetuating the illusion that this small group of famous actresses speaks on behalf of all of us, it effectively takes the microphone out of the hands of the many, many intelligent, diverse women who do promote intersectionality.
(By the way, I realize that in an article about the media discussing Lena Dunham, I'm asking you to ignore articles exactly like this, which seems more than a bit hypocritical. Let's be clear: I hate that I feel compelled to write this in the first place.)
Please shut down the media demand for articles like this. Please raise your expectations about what you'll click on and repost so writers like me don't have any reason to report more Dunham-esque controversies. It would be an honor to put articles discussing the ignorance of a few famous white women out of business.
Simply put, if we stop sharing stories about the privileged ignorance of Lena Dunham, she'll stop trending every other month when she inevitably says something idiotic and we can make room on our newsfeeds for women who know what they're talking about for a change. The same goes for the Tomi Lahren-types on the other side of the fence; if we quit giving their unenlightened words any credence, they lose power altogether.
We choose who speaks on behalf of us by who we allow the media to pay attention to. It starts with us.