Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Feminism, Memoirs and What Got Me Really Heated Tonight.

What started out as procrastination from completing my words for the NaNoWriMo contest -  scrolling through Facebook and seeing all of my proud friends clicking the button the lets their newsfeed know that they voted today, a few stragglers who are just now uploading photos of their Halloween costumes, and a couple funny Youtube videos, turned into the absolute necessity to write this blog post. 

Lena Dunham released her first book and memoir Not That Kind of Girl  a few weeks ago.  I bought it, proud to support a fellow memoirist and my local bookstore, and eager to read what she had to say about growing up, becoming a writer, and becoming the phenomenon that she is today.  Admittedly, I might have gone into it with the hope that I would be clued in to some small secret of unlocking one's creative potential, or the acceptance of one's body as it is - beautiful - and not the object of public scrutiny and constant demands to be perfect.  And, while I liked it, and read it quickly, it felt more like a longer and more literary (obviously) version of her show "Girls," which I also thoroughly enjoy and often relate to.  I passed the book along to a friend, another "Girls" lover and haven't thought much about it since.

And then I found out, during my non-writing spree on Facebook, that Dunham has been receiving numerous attacks on her book, calling her a "sexual predator," and "child molester."  

The scene that is receiving all of these complaints is as follows:

One day, as I sat in our driveway in Long Island playing with blocks and buckets, my curiosity got the best of me. Grace was sitting up, babbling and smiling, and I leaned down between her legs and carefully spread open her vagina. She didn't resist and when I saw what was inside I shrieked.
My mother came running. "Mama, Mama! Grace has something in there!"
My mother didn't bother asking why I had opened Grace's vagina. This was within the spectrum of things I did.

This scene gave me no pause.  I barely remember it being in the text, let alone prompt me to wage an all-out tweet and hashtag attack on someone for sharing a memory from when they were seven-years-old. The political and cultural critics complaints are ludicrous.  Jia Tolentino, a contributing writer on Jezebel wrote the article "The Right to a Sexual Narrative"  not only doing an exceptional job of detailing exactly who Lena Dunham is, why she is so popular, and what some of her flaws as a writer and public figure are, it also completely dispels the validity of the complaint with her memoir and it's "encouragement of sexual abuse."  My favorite lines from the article:

"To be an adult woman is to have your body be near-universally read as a sexual object when, on the inside, you often feel very different, like a Pokemon or a hungover bag of meat."

"There is enough real abuse out there. There are enough people who never got that freedom to let their own kid bodies be unburdened. Part of granting people the ability to tell their own sexual narrative is granting them the ability to tell their own sexual narrative, whether it matches your reading or not."

I have now read MULTIPLE articles about this, falling - nay - leaping headfirst into the black hole that is the internet and all connecting links to anything even remotely having to do with this case.  It's insane.  I even ambled into Truthrevolt.org (a terrifyingly propagandist place where all logic and reason and TRUTH go to be twisted and swallowed up in a very minute percentage of the population's agenda) and their article about how the First Amendment protects their accusation of her as a sexual predator and their withdrawal of an apology for stringing together DIFFERENT sections of her books to piece together a case in which she was seventeen and not seven when this episode occurred.  Disgusting.  One of the articles states that "Everything doesn't need to be shared..."  I'm sorry, why the fuck not?  Not only has her sister fully supported her sister through this and given express permission (as all memoirists and writers of non-fiction are contracted to do if they are intending to write about and publish real people without changing names and dates and places - did you know that?) of Dunham's use of her memories of her and her sister's interactions.

It's unfortunate there is such hyper-sensitivity out there, from BOTH sides (some of my favorite feminist writers jumped on this ridiculous bandwagon as well, shaming Dunham for using her platform to encourage the "abuse" of the innocent), and that a work of art or piece of writing or the TELLING OF ONE'S OWN STORY is grounds for an accusation of wrong-doing.  The evisceration of the safe space in which to tell about an innocent childhood memory is abhorrent.  She was seven.  This is a non-issue.  What IS the issue is the constant control being perpetrated on women's sexuality insofar that it creates  falsehoods about a CHILD'S intent and natural curiosity.  By exaggerating, misdiagnosing, overreacting and lying about what Lena Dunham "did" to her sister is yet another example of how the media, cultural critics, politicians and uninformed and knee-jerk reactionary FEMINISTS encourage the damaging discourse over what is "appropriate" for a woman to do with and think about her body.

It is a control mechanism people, and it must be recognized as such.

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