Women Judging Other Women and Lena Dunham

As Mariah posted in her “What’s Your Excuse?” piece about a picture on Facebook of a toned mother with three young children, I also have been thinking about the shaming women encounter from other women. 

While our discussion in class acknowledged that the actual structure of looking itself is available to anyone regardless of gender and sex, it is especially interesting how women are more critical of looking at women than men looking at women.

I was recently in a downward spiral of watching Lena Dunham YouTube clips, when I stumbled upon the seemingly uninvolved clip of Dunham graciously accepting her Best Actress – TV Series, Comedy or Musical at the Golden Globes, with her even going as far as to thank her competitor nominated actresses.  In a moment of what appears to be genuine elation, Dunham ends her speech on a heartfelt note: “This award is for every woman who ever felt like there wasn’t a space for her; this show’s made a space for me.  Thank you so much.”

However, the majority of the YouTube comments center on Lena Dunham’s inability to walk in her dress.

A “top” comment on this clip:


The content of Dunham’s speech is irrelevant to most YouTube commentators.  None pay attention to Dunham’s actual speech.  Indeed, most of the YouTube comments center on “women” (I’m blatantly assuming, based on the “aliceasommeil” username) judging Dunham from a phallic perspective.

I adore Lena Dunham.  I really do.  (The term “worship” might not be too far off.)  When I watched Girls for the first time, I felt like I had discovered a part of me that I didn’t even notice was missing.  I feel like each episode of the first season speaks to me on a metaphysical level.  (Yes, my love for Girls is deep.)  For the first time, I found a TV body I could actually relate to in Dunham’s body.  (There’s probably something Lacanian in that statement.)

However, even I noticed a slippage in my thoughts as I freewrote parts of this post.  I questioned if we should even expect anything but a slightly straddled walk from Dunham when the show Girls is itself punctuated and indeed best known for its awkwardness, nudity, and raw honesty.

Why should, and why do, we care about the way Dunham walks to accept her award?  Shouldn’t we congratulate Dunham on her success?  Why must her success in winning an award be disregarded by her process to go to accept the actual award?  Why does no-one center on the actual contents of her speech?  Why is Dunham’s success being ridiculed via YouTube commentators?

What are your thoughts?  Are we being too critical of Dunham?  Is Dunham’s walk outside our ideology of Hollywood awards’ ceremonies?  Is Dunham’s walk actually jarring?  Would you have noticed the awkwardness if it hadn’t been for the YouTube comments?


2 thoughts on “Women Judging Other Women and Lena Dunham

  1. I think the hostility toward Dunham comes from three places.

    1. Everything you have said already. Women judging women, patriarchy, etc.

    2. Her presumed embodiment of the much-loathed hipster stereotype (and the same embodiment exists in the show).

    3. Race. I think a lot of the criticisms made of Girls on the basis of it being about “white people problems” have stuck to Dunham as a person. Responses like those of Lesley Arfin don’t really help (http://gawker.com/5903468/a-girls-writers-ironic-racism-and-other-white-people-problems). (Another take on the show’s perceived race problem is here: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/04/20/white-girls-big-city-what-hbo-s-new-show-misses.html)

    But of course, these criticisms are applied to Dunham directly, and that’s telling in of itself.

  2. Pingback: Clever Gals | Hipster Intelligence Agency

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