Lena Dunham Made Me a Feminist
Feb 20 2013
Mere seconds after tweeting that my pitch to write this article was accepted, some random guy on Twitter had this to say to me: "Lena Dunham is the voice of a masturbatory, hyper-self & her pathological titty baring represents Generation Shit."
I mean, such vitriole and hate for a woman who makes a comedic television show that you can't even watch on public TV!?!?
For years now, my wife has insisted that I'm a feminist despite my arguments that I'm not. She says that since I believe a woman has the right to work for the same pay as any man that I'm inherently a feminist. My half-hearted response was that I couldn't possibly be. I've never read any feminist literature, never participated in a rally, and I certainly can't stand behind the idea that a woman can do everything a man can (or vice versa). To be clear though, I do believe in equal rights, equal pay for equal work and that, intellectually men and women are equals. I also totally love the way women look naked. So, I couldn't possibly be a feminist, right?
In steps, Lena Dunham and her show that you've no doubt heard all about by now, Girls. A show that I personally find to be wildly entertaining despite the fact that the male characters make my skin crawl. Girls instantly became quite controversial as it's a comedic television show that is breaking new ground by depicting the lives of young, white people in their 20s. Also, it's the only TV show where there's no ethnic diversity. Oh, and and and, it's the only TV show that attempts to take a humorous look at the lives of people transitioning from childhood into adulthood. Oh, jeesh, I forgot it's also the only television show that allows women to be on camera naked. Shit! One more thing, it's also the only TV show that focuses on people of enough privilege and money that they can waste their days away following their whims.
Wait a minute! There are hundreds upon hundreds of TV shows that do all of the above things, sometimes all at once. So what is it about this TV show that makes it such a lightning rod for hate. Hate for her body. Hate for the lack of diversity. Hate for the characters' privileged lives. Hate for the fantasy scenarios of her characters having sex with men out of their league? Oh, wait, I know. It's the only successful TV show that's written and directed by a young woman. That is truly the only thing unique about the creation of this show when held up against the multitudes of other television shows that are doing similar things.
Did Kareem Abdul Jabbar take off his goggles, put down his sky hook, and take to the Huffington Post to publicly shame Judd Apatow (a.k.a., the producer of Girls) when he wrote and produced a similarly themed show called Freaks & Geeks? It didn't have titties, but it did have an entirely white cast of teens set in Detroit fucking Michigan. Was the main character a self-centered girl who used people and her parents to get what she wanted? You bet your arse she was. Did the feminists cry and say "but what does Lindsay Weir stand for!?!?" No, they didn't. Why? Because it was a TV show written and produced for our entertainment. You either liked it or you didn't.
Where are the complaints of racism for another one of HBO's hit TV shows, Game Of Thrones, whose only characters of ethnicity are bloodthirsty, shirtless primitives? Likewise, where are the complaints about the main characters in that show being overprivileged when, clearly, the main characters flounce around like they're goddamned kings and queens. Where are the cries of "goddammit, Daenerys, put your tits away!!!" after every episode in which she whips her tits out? Oh, you don't care because, clearly, it's a show made solely for our entertainment and her tits suit your vision of Playboy tits? Why the fuck would we hold the writer of this show up to any public scrutiny for creating an imaginary realm where old, fat men fuck teenage women in every episode?
Want to talk about privileged white people and vapid, disgusting unrealistic behaviour? Let's talk about Entourage! Here is a television show that is meant to entertain us by following the exploits of three young, white men who follow a celebrity around leeching off of his money, cars, houses, booze, drugs, and even his female admirers. There's not a single moment of that show that's not offensive to every single one of us yet it gracefully sidesteps public scorn under the guise of entertainment.
I know, I ask a lot of "why"'s here but can someone tell me why the world at large has put this woman under so much public scrutiny, hate, and controversy? If you can point me to one single thing that sets her apart from her numerous counterparts making television entertainment beyond the fact that she's a young woman, I'm all ears.
So, Lena Dunham, you've managed to do a few things here: You've managed to make me laugh; you've managed to make me cringe at that Adam character too many times; but more importantly, you've proven my wife to be correct (as usual) and confirmed that I am indeed a feminist. The sheer volume of public outcry over your show has pulled off my blinders to the reality of how our culture deals with a successful woman. I apologise that I've not caught on sooner, but, thankfully, it's never too late to change. Now, I'm going to settle in and watch a nation of internet police tweet, blog, Facebook, and, hell, maybe even pinterest the ways that I and you are completely wrong. But don't worry, the number of people fighting for your right to have a job making television shows just increased by one.
Follow Nathan on Twitter: @nathanisariot
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