Another week, another ‘feminist’ celebrity revealing their stunted and privileged version of white feminism to the masses. This time, is was the chance of self-proclaimed ‘saviour’ of women (and best friend of Taylor Swift, who else) Lena Dunham.
Lena Dunham published an informal interview that she had with her friend Amy Schumer (another questionable advocate of white feminism as seen here). In the interview, she confessed at the met gala how Odell Beckham Jr. – a black football player for the New York Giants – objectified and judged her.
Despite Odell doing nothing but sit next to Dunham and not speak to her, Dunham castigates him on several levels. Dunham projected her own personal insecurities through her lack of attention from Odell: ‘he looked at me and he determined I was not the shape of a woman by his standards.’ Going on to vocalise and imagine Odell’s inner monologue as ‘The vibe was very much like, “Do I want to fuck it? Is it wearing a … yep, it’s wearing a tuxedo. I’m going to go back to my cell phone.”
In one fail swoop, Dunham weakly attempts to critique societal female body expectations while perpetuating the over-sexualisation of black men. All the while imagining that Odell would have these base animalistic assumptions over being sat next to a tuxedoed woman who isn’t a 6-foot tall size zero model.
This is the pure definition of white feminism as it exists. While trying to break down barriers for your personal gain, Dunham ignores the complications of race which she continues to uphold and perpetuate. The lines of racial inequality which she doesn’t face – and has no time to delve into between her ‘busy’ schedule – are conveniently ignored for her ‘feminist’ agenda.
Not that this should be a surprise, with her ‘Girls’ series being set in central New York, yet the absence of any person of colour is glaring. In an interview talking about the absence of POC in her series, she said ‘I’d been thinking so much about representing weirdo, chubby girls and strange half-Jews that I had forgotten that there was an entire world of women being underserved.’
So in not so many words, Dunham was too busy depicting herself and her struggles to stop and look around her to understand her privilege as a white woman. She merely wants to continue seeing herself as the main victim, ignoring the intricacies of other people’s experince of inequality. Which succinctly defines the rotten core of white feminism.
Dunham has since apologized about her words on Odell at the Met Gala, and unsuprisingly it’s not really that satisfying.
Her long comment alongside an Instagram picture reading ‘Sorry Flowers Die’ Dunham writes a lengthy paragraph ‘apologising’ and talking – once again – about herself.
The paragraph doesn’t take much responsibility, but explains her actions through an emotional display. Once again building herself up as a victim of body shaming, despite no one attacking her at any point for this.
The thing is, Dunham would have had a valid point discussing how she felt insecure at the Met Gala when surrounded by models, singers and actresses who themselves feel this same level of pressure. But instead, she created herself as a victim. She was instead a white woman accusing a black man of this level of misogyny for no rhyme or reason. Whether in ‘humour’ or not, Dunham decided to create a racial element to discuss her body image issues. And in turn could have affected the reputation of a successful black athlete through no fault of his own.
What’s more is that this as a printed publication by Dunham, meaning she had edited and approved the interview and saw no issue with her comments at any point. It was not a slip of the tongue but was a thought out discussion and process which she thought her points were fair and valid.
Lena Dunham has and always will be a self-obsessed white feminist who is blind to anyone else’s plight other than her own – which will always be the most important. Her apology did not highlight the issue of race in her words and didn’t address the need of intersectionality in her immensely flawed white feminism.
Dunham responded the way she did due to understandable incredulous backlash at her ridiculous comments. I still don’t think she grasps the need for intersectionality in feminism which frankly casts her ‘feminism’ into disrepute.
Her complete disregard of POC’s experiences and intersectionality changed what could have been a positive conversation on female body image pressures to an education on race. There is always room to improve and learn, and intersectional feminism is the only valid form of feminism. But Dunham has time and time again continued in her white feminism in such an unashamed way, that I question how she can even call herself a feminist?