Lena Dunham has been called a long list of insulting names. Pathetic, fat, spoiled, racist, a narcissist are just a few she gets attacked with regularly. Most days she shrugs it off. But when the HBO “Girls” star and creator arrived in Seattle on Oct. 18 for her “Not That Kind of Girl” book tour, she was angry.
The National Review had just run a cover story entitled “Pathetic Privilege” that degraded her chapter on sexual assault to “a gutless and passive-aggressive act.” It featured an illustration of Dunham with bulging eyes and bucked teeth.
In response, the 28-year-old took to the podium at the University Temple United Methodist Church (the University Book Store held the event at the church to accommodate the large crowd) and read her chapter in question to a female dominated audience that seemed to hang on her every word. The chapter describes a blurry, drunken sexual experience that she never consented to. And her message was simple: women should never feel ashamed to talk about these kinds of events.
Dunham hopes to open the floodgates to more female voices through her book. So far, it seems to be working. She’s gained a parade of followers that’s growing by the millions. While she might get subjected to some harsh criticism, it only seems to be fueling her fire.
“Part of it is, so many people are speaking up and it opens a conversation that really terrifies people … To quote my dad, ‘men watch out, the women are coming for your toys,’” she said. She also added that many men are advocates for women’s rights and are important to feminism.
The whole night Dunham was focused on spreading empowering messages for women. She talked about how celebrities like Taylor Swift and Beyonce identifying as feminists is a glowing example of how the movement is growing. She talked about the need for all women to collectively support each other no matter their race or economic status.
“I think we all, as feminists, have a responsibility to fight for each other,” she said.
She talked about reproductive rights and even had representatives from Planned Parenthood between the aisles signing people up for its newsletter. She endorsed Suzan DelBene and reminded people to vote in the midterm election.
But while Dunham voiced her strong opinions with urgency and seriousness, she was gracious to the crowd.
“I can never thank you enough for being here tonight,” she said, adding that she loved the two Top Pot Doughnuts she was treated to and was happy to be in the Northwest because it’s the original stomping grounds of riot grrrl, an underground feminist punk rock movement. She also said she associates Seattle with women who talk back.
As the event concluded, Dunham gathered her things while the crowd sat silently until one woman said “we love you Lena.”
“I love you guys!” Dunham responded.
Once she walked out the door the audience erupted in chatter. Instead of one young voice echoing in the church, there were now hundreds.
About the Book
Not That Kind of Girl is a collection of essays by Lena Dunham. To put it simply, she talks about her personal experiences growing up as a girl struggling with everything from romance to body image.
“This book should be required reading for anyone who thinks they understand the experience of being a young woman in our culture. I thought I knew the author rather well, and I found many (not altogether welcome) surprises.”— Carroll Dunham (that’s her dad).