All right, folks. It’s time we sat down and had a little heart-to-heart about something — or rather, someone. It would appear that Lena Dunham is back on our radar, and this time, it’s getting pretty political. Dunham recently posted a poem on Instagram about the ways in which President Trump relates to women, making them feel like errant daughters under the watchdog eyes of their fathers.
Here's Lena on Daddy Trump. pic.twitter.com/Vgf9cI1nWN
— Mona Eltahawy (@monaeltahawy) January 24, 2017
The poem gathered so much steam to such a seemingly negative degree that it forced Dunham to delete the post, and in its place post a mea culpa.
At the same time Dunham posted the poem, a rather insidious Facebook account under the name “God Emperor Trump” posted a side-by-side photo of Dunham and an opened can of Pillsbury biscuits. Dunham, in workout gear, was implied to resemble the food item, wherein dough was spilling out of the package. The comments are misogynistic, cruel and unfair — they won’t get repeated here, so click the image below to see what I mean.
But the connection between Dunham, her now-deleted poem and the misogynistic picture bring up a timely argument: When is it OK to criticize someone, especially someone expressing feminist views? With women’s issues front and center in the first week of Trump’s presidency, we’re hearing more explicitly political viewpoints from celebrities, those highly visible people we arguably idolize for their typically apolitical work. The Women’s March in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21 marked a recent uptick in coverage of female celebrities and their political viewpoints and there is an implication that in the wake of the march, there will be no quieting down from female celebs any time soon.
Simply put, the only critique of a person should be of their words and actions, not their bodies. I read Dunham’s original poem post with my jaw on floor because her ability to connect Trump to a father figure, however egregious that father figure may be, was stomach-churning. Odd, too, since I don’t recall many fathers as dedicated to disabusing their daughters of their inherent rights. Additionally, the poem boils down women, essentially, to mischievous bitches that are obsessed to near-Oedipal levels with their fathers. Uh, did your dads do that with you, ladies? Because my dad and I are nowhere near that weird with one another.
But to connect Dunham’s words and past actions to her appearance (as that abhorrent photo seems to suggest) not only weakens that rejection of Dunham, but it aims to make perceptions of her body seem detestable too. To judge Dunham’s body in comparison to her words, whatever those words may be, is just rhetorically bad. Can’t think of a better argument than to point and laugh at a woman’s body? Try harder.
Even if you don’t support Dunham’s comments (full disclosure: in this specific instance, I don’t either), there’s nothing cool about body-shaming. Zip. Zero. Zilch. Seeing things like this picture pop up on the internet any time a woman speaks her mind (again, you can respect freedom of speech while also critiquing it) is so disheartening.
Sure, Dunham is not everyone’s cup of tea. And yes, at times, she even goes a little in the wrong direction when trying to make a point. But she’s speaking up about issues that matter, and for that, nobody can fault her.
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