Tumblr Discussions – Lena Dunham

So, this happened about a week or so ago. In case you’re not familiar with what happened, Lena Dunham, the creator of Girls on HBO, was at an event at some sort of dinner event at The Met, with people prettier than her. Rather than dealing with her own insecurities regarding her looks, she decided to foist them onto the back of the nearest Black man, her dinner companion at her table, who wasn’t paying enough (well, any) attention to her.

To his credit the young man in question, sports player, Odell Beckham, has decided to completely nope the fuck out of any and all discussions involving Lena Dunham, which proves his Momma didn’t raise no fool, or that he still doesn’t know who the Hell Lena Dunham is.

For the record, I’ve never been a fan of Ms. Dunham. I’ve heard a Hell of a lot about the show because it s the hottest thing in town, for a certain type of NY middle class, white semi-intellectual. (I say semi, because these are the types of people who are not actually smart. They disdain education but claim to  read certain books, or watch certain movies and TV shows, to be seen as smart by  other people.) I’ve always considered Dunham to be a female Woody Allen, and I’ve never been impressed with him either. I knew her show Girls wasn’t anything aimed at me because once again you have a NY that is completely devoid of PoC.

I don’t necessarily get mad about things like that, because  there’s a certain subset of White people who just aren’t going to have the privilege of having friends of other races, and Lena Dunham is one of those types of White people that Black people do not choose to befriend. She is utterly mediocre in all ways, from her sense of humor, to her looks, to her talent. She’s not even interesting enough to actually hate.

But Tumblr and the rest of the internet did give it the old college try, as everyone and their grandma weighed on what she did, and why it was horribly racist, or sexist, or just plain wrong. Several of these takedowns and clapbacks are absolutely  brilliant.

Along with the fact that Beckham likely didn’t talk to her because he didn’t know who she was,there’s also a solid chance that he did know who she was and that he didn’t want to talk to herbecause of how problematic and boring she is.

There’s also the fact that only the most self-absorbed, oblivious straight girl of straight girls would think she was being edgy by wearing a fucking suit. As if this extremely successful, well-traveled Black man has never seen a woman in a suit before. Side-eye.

But, as she says in the interview, there she was at the Met Gala surrounded by some of the most gorgeous and talented people in Hollywood, and rather than just sit with her discomfort around her own mediocrity, she decided to non-consensually include Beckham in her self-deprecating thoughts. In doing so she took away Beckham’s agency by assuming that he didn’t have a legit reason for not talking to her, which is both infantilizing and dehumanizing. He’s a grown man who can decide who to talk to or not talk to — he’s not a dog. But maybe Dunham doesn’t know the difference because there are likely more actual dogs on her show than black men

We could also talk about:

How her comments play into the stereotypes of the hyper-sexualization of Black men(especially athletes) and how damaging and historically significant it is that white people continue to project their fears and insecurities onto Black bodies.

Her performance of victimhood and fragility as if she was being harmed by him sitting there next to her and ignoring her. And the way that she and Amy Schumer put on this woe is me performance to play up how “hard and horrible” it is looking homely and plain amongst athletes and super-models at the Met Gala.

White Feminism’s shallow analysis when it comes to body positivity, which basically boils down to “well he was supposed to desire (objectify) me”,and how these two conventionally sized, able-bodied white women have built careers around trying to monetize a body-positive movement that is for and by large-women, women of color, and visibly-disabled women.

And As Far As Her Response…

At first Dunham responded to criticisms by defending her comments as “just her quirky sense of humor,” but her comments aren’t funny, don’t add anything feminist or body positive to the conversation, and in fact perpetuate stereotypes. Which is both harmful and not entertainment.

After significant internet dragging and educating from Black Twitter™, Dunham finally apologized to Beckham, acknowledging the “often violent history of the over-sexualization of black male bodies, as well as false accusations by white women toward black men.”

…So this outstandingly basic, soggy marshmallow of a human just showed her ass again. Note how she in no way cites or shows any acknowledgement or gratitude towards the Black folks (primarily women) who called her ass out and got her to this point of understanding. Shows she’s learned nothing.

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The Virtuous White Woman Trope


by Zoe SamudziIn her book Not That Kind of Girl, Lena Dunham discusses her sexual assault at Oberlin College. She has subsequently both written and spoken about rape culture, stigma of sexual assault survivors, and the gendered burden women carry because of the ways patriarchy commodifies our bodies and identities and treats us women disposable.

But there is a piece consistently missing from her analyses of rape culture: race.

Dunham, in a recent conversation with Amy Schumer for her Lenny Letter newsletter, revealed she did not enjoy the 2016 Met Gala because she was almost completely ignored by New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. She says to Schumer:

I was sitting next to Odell Beckham Jr., and it was so amazing because it was like he looked at me and he determined I was not the shape of a woman by his standards. He was like, “That’s a marshmallow. That’s a child. That’s a dog.“ It wasn’t mean — he just seemed confused. 

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 back to my cell phone.” It was like we were forced to be together, and he was literally scrolling Instagram rather than have to look at a woman in a bow tie. I was like, “This should be called the Metropolitan Museum of Getting Rejected by Athletes.”

Of course, this came after, Dunham mentioned attempting to “grind [her] ass on Michael B. Jordan for an additional 20 minutes.“

Our discussions of rape culture cannot be complete unless we engage the raced and gendered dynamics of white women who weaponize sex to leverage power over men of color.

The trope of the Virtuous White Woman is one that perfectly complements the colonial mission of bringing humanity to the “barbarous savages” of “uncivilized lands.” Where whiteness is supreme within a global racial hegemony, white womanhood is the gold standard around which all expressions of womanhood and femininity revolve. It is constructed by white patriarchy as a supremely fragile identity requiring attention and care. It is out of the construction of this delicacy the criminalization of men of color is born.

The prison-industrial complex is a reaction to the risk that men of color, notably Black men, pose as hypersexual and hyper-aggressive monsters. American carceral structures reinforce white supremacist tropes of sexualized, anti-Black racism. Part of the impetus for passing marijuana prohibition is the fear of the drug’s effect on “degenerate races”: that “reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men,” and that “marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes.”

Within narratives of the antebellum South, plantation wives are commonly characterized as passive victims of their slave-owning husbands. Yet there is evidence indicating planter-class womenwielded sexual control over enslaved men and asserted their own relative power in proximity to white manhood.

If we are going to have an earnest conversation about rape culture, it must necessarily include discussions about white women’s collusions with white patriarchy. Any definition of rape culture must, without disrespecting or disbelieving allegations made by survivors, include the historical fact that there were few things deadlier for Black men than white women alleging sexual assault or harassment of some kind.

The racialized hyper-sexualization of men of color, particularly Black men, renders them inviolable and unrapeable: they cannot be engaged non-consensually because they are never undesiring of sexual advances. They particularly cannot and will not reject the advances of white women, per these colonial mythologies.

This seems to be the myth around which Dunham’s purportedly self-reflective dialogue about her “insecurities as an average-bodied woman at a table of athletes and supermodels” revolves. The subsequent Slate piece by L.V. Anderson reinforces questions about Beckham’s heterosexuality by suggesting “perhaps (as the eternal rumors have it) he’s gay.” Why, though, is a Black man’s sexuality is immediately called into question for simply being disinterested in a conversation with a white woman as though white women are perpetually entitled to Black men?

In many ways, many white women do not reject patriarchy as much as they claim. White feminism quite squarely revolves around dominant tropes of white women being supremely desired and desirable, delicate, and unable to victimize (while characterizing women of color as toxic and perpetual aggressors).

In failing to account for these dominant constructions of womanhood revolving around white cisgender heterosexuality, it also fails to acknowledge how the contemporary weaponization of virtuous [cisgender] white womanhood comes at the expense of transgender women. The bigoted and cisnormative argument for denying transgender women’s access to women’s restrooms – and access to womanhood more widely – rests in the presentation of trans women as threats to “women’s” safety and privacy.

It is critical to engage the real life phenomenon of women who are rejected for failing to meet society’s hegemonic beauty standards, including size. It is important that our gender politics take into consideration the spaces where fatphobia and femmephobia intersect: that these rejections impact femme folks of all genders, and not simply cisgender women.

It is critical to cultivate a body politic that not only recognizes disparate treatment of women of different sizes, but also the ways in which sizeist politics interact with misogynoir and racialized femmephobia: where a fat Black femme body is not only a punchline, but potentially the worst thing to have. But what feels like an iteration of an entitled white woman’s sexualized racist projections onto Black men’s bodies is not this critical conversation.

A politic of body positivity and acceptance is central to reclaiming our bodily autonomy and extricating our senses of self from the value that capitalism ascribes us because of our size. This does not feel like the commentary Lena “I’m thin, for like, Detroit” Dunham was putting forth in her newsletter.
Zoe Samudzi is a queer Black woman whose work is dedicated to reclaiming and reframing narratives both within the academy and outside of it. Wielding Black feminist & womanist epistemologies, she interrogates structural whiteness and theorizes on decolonizing ways of knowing and truth-telling.

Lena Dunham Virtuous White Woman white privilege White Supremacy White FeminismAmy Schumer Odell Beckham Jr. white women hypersexualization Black MenMen of Color Masculinity Misogynoir Femmephobia neocolonialism
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The trope of the Virtuous White Woman is one that perfectly complements the colonial mission of bringing humanity to the “barbarous savages” of “uncivilized lands.” Where whiteness is supreme within a global racial hegemony, white womanhood is the gold standard around which all expressions of womanhood and femininity revolve. It is constructed by white patriarchy as a supremely fragile identity requiring attention and care. […] In many ways, many white women do not reject patriarchy as much as they claim. White feminism quite squarely revolves around dominant tropes of white women being supremely desired and desirable, delicate, and unable to victimize (while characterizing women of color as toxic and perpetual aggressors).

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reverseracism

Lena Dunham is again doing what White People tend to do to Black People

What’s that you ask? Projecting their own personal insecurities and fears onto Black Bodies. It’s a tale as old as time gimmick and I’m personally sick of it. She’s been harboring hate towards Odell since Met Gala. Him not noticing her or making any advances toward her made her so angry that she penned an article.

The entire article states how Odell did not speak or acknowledged Dunham, this in turn prompted her to project her own insecurities onto him. This included having an ENTIRE imaginary conversation between the two. This includes insulting and shaming her own body, but explaining that her wording is what Odell was probably thinking.

ALSO, you, your television shows, and your white washed brand of feminism only appeals to white woman. So how in the hell would you expect Odell to recognize or even know who you are? I’m going to be honest, if I had the misfortune of sitting next to you I’d stare at my phone too (that being.. If I even recognize you).

Sorry not sorry Lena. I know the world promised you that Black Men were hypersexual and had trouble resisting White Woman, but that’s no quite true. Now I’m going to continue doing what I’ve been doing since the day i found out about your existence and that is pretend you don’t exist.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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4 thoughts on “Tumblr Discussions – Lena Dunham

  1. “I’ve always considered Dunham to be a female Woody Allen, and I’ve never been impressed with him either.”

    GET. OUT. OF. MY. HEAD.

    You’re specking to my soul here lol.

    This is exactly what I’ve always felt about her.

    I have a very strong dislike for her and I couldn’t stomach more than 5 minutes of her show. I’m still mad at my friend for putting me through this terrible experience.

    I’m not surprised by her statement and while I expected social media to drag her within an inch of her life, I’m glad some mainstream publications called her out also.

    She and Amy can fall off the nearest cliff, yesterday. Yeah, I said it and I’ll say it again. I have no time for these professional racists who make a fortune whining about being basic White girls and always have something slick to say about POCs.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “I don’t necessarily get mad about things like that, because there’s a certain subset of White people who just aren’t going to have the privilege of having friends of other races…”

    I agree. I was never upset about Girls not featuring Black characters because, while the series is set in New York, not all so-called progressive White people friends of color. Some White people just have White friends, some Black people just have Black friends, some Asians just have Asian friends, etc. I think it’s a matter of who you come in contact with in life, and who you live and work around.

    I watch Girls, and I actually think it’s a well written series. As a Black woman who grew up poor, I cannot relate to any of the characters’ issues, but I will acknowledge that I like the show. Dunham’s comments are not surprising to me. The guy didn’t say anything negative to her, but she felt insecure about her own appearance and blamed him for it. She never introduced herself to him, and most-likely assumed he knew who SHE was.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have never understood the tendency people have (and this isn’t just White people) to make up stories about why some stranger isn’t talking to them.

      There’s a million different reasons why they aren’t talking to you, but if you want to be spoken to, you have to start first, which is what I gather didn’t happen in this situation. She never spoke to him at all.

      Now she would be within her rights to think him rude, if she made friendly overtures and he ignored her, but once again, that’s not what happened in this case. (Even so, no one is obligated to be friends just because the overture was made.)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you! I’m a shy person so I’m hesitant to approach strangers. Why not just introduce herself? She seemed like she was interested in him but felt shunned and offended because he didn’t know she created Girls, or if he did, he didn’t care. Everybody doesn’t watch Girls! 😂

        Maybe dude didn’t want to be there in the first place. In the interview Dunham AND Schumer both admitted THEY didn’t even want to be there. It was probably a very boring event, as are most of these pompous museum events. I work in the arts and I would never want to attend a Met Gala!

        Liked by 1 person

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