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Are we done with Amy Schumer and Lena Dunham yet?

[Content note for racism and child sex abuse]

Are we? Can we be?

I get that we’re supposed to love Amy Schumer and Lena Dunham on account of they aren’t thin, and that they’re proudly imperfect and not trying to be perfect, and that they’re bold enough to do raunch humor even though women aren’t supposed to do that, and whatever, I get it. I get that Dunham is supposed to be the voice of her generation, and since I’m not really within her generation I’ll leave it to the millennials to decide if they want her to be their voice (although if I may be so bold as to offer an unsolicited suggestion: Don’t. Don’t want that). I get all of that.

They’re hailed as heroes of feminist comedy, because they’re… women, and… comedians, and sometimes they say true stuff about being women that people don’t say a lot, and… they talk about sex a whole lot, and… okay, I get that part less, but whatever.

Schumer and Dunham catch a lot of criticism for being self-absorbed and self-unaware, for occasionally poking their head out of their hole long enough to do something shitty, double down ’cause haters, and then apologize (sometimes) and go back to their self-absorption. But I have to posit that maybe Dunham’s super-white TV-Brooklyn is actually the best place for her. Because dress her up in a tux and march her out into real-life Manhattan, and she’s going to end up sitting next to Odell Beckham at a gala and assigning him misogynistic motives for not hitting on her like apparently he was supposed to.

And then complaining about the “outrage machine” on Twitter (doubling down, haters)… and ultimately apologizing.

So I’m totally cool with being done with them. I mean, we can probably list a few edgy female comedians who haven’t done stuff like…

Lena Dunham gets pissed that Odell Beckham didn’t hit on her

Earlier this month, in an interview with Amy Schumer for the “Lenny Letter,” Dunham complained about sitting next to Beckham at the Met Gala and… not getting sexually harassed.

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 to go back to my cell phone.” It was like we were forced to be together, and he literally was 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.”

Because he owed her his attention? Because he was supposed to immediately become overwhelmed with desire for her? Maybe he looked at her and didn’t realize who she was and that she’s super significant and important and stuff. Maybe he looked at her, realized exactly who she was, and immediately turned back to his phone so he wouldn’t have to talk to Lena Dunham.

Dunham later explained, via Twitter, that “[her] story about him was clearly (to [her]) about [her] own insecurities as an average-bodied woman at a table of supermodels & athletes,” and it’s just her sense of humor, because historically a white woman projecting her insecurities onto a black man’s sexuality was never Step 1 in the lynching process. She did later apologize to Beckham openly and at length on Instagram, “after listening to lots of valid criticism” (eventually, because nothing happens without first shrugging off the haters and causing more unnecessary damage).

Incidentally, earlier posts about Lena’s complaint include another anecdote, right before she starts talking about Odell Beckham,

I attempted to grind my ass on Michael B. Jorden for an additional twenty minutes and then left right after you.

that doesn’t appear in the current posted version of the interview. Did she decide that objectifying and sexualizing two black men in one night made her look bad, so she self-edited?

Amy Schumer pins catcalling on men of color

Maybe Dunham thinks Beckham should have been all up on her because her friend Amy says men of color are supposed to be catcallers?

Twitter had some Feelings about the Met Gala story, and one Twitterer included Schumer in his observation that men of color are no more likely than white men to be misogynistic, and she got offended and tweeted back.

The exchange, since Schumer has since deleted the tweet in question:

Paulo L dos Santos @plbds
Lena Dunham, Amy Schumer, et. al. refuse 2C that misogyny among men of color, while hideously prevalent, is no more so than among white men.

Amy Schumer @amyschumer
@plbds how would you know? Statistically who is hollerin at you in the street more pa?

The speed with which she deleted her tweet would indicate that she recognized that it was racist AF, but she’s provided no other commentary on the subject. (But she has tweeted in the past, “I am not a racist. I am a devout feminist and lover of all people,” so that must mean she’s not a racist, because she said she isn’t.)

(That happened to be in response to criticism of her bit where she says, “I used to date Hispanic guys, but now I prefer consensual!” Because Hispanic guys are rapists, get it? Totally not racist!)

(Maybe she just would do well to stay off of Twitter.)

Bonus up-fuckedness: When Lena Dunham didn’t understand why people were uncomfortable with her poking around in her sister’s vagina

In her memoir, Not That Kind of Girl, compulsive oversharer Dunham recounted a story from her early youth, when, as a curious seven-year-old, she poked around in her toddler sister’s vagina to see what’s what. She also talked about bribing her sister with candy to kiss her on the lips and masturbating in bed next to her, and likened her attempts to gain her sister’s affections as “anything a sexual predator might do to woo a small suburban girl.” And a lot of people got really upset about this, because, gosh, for whatever reason stories about touching toddlers’ genitals make people upset.

Dunham’s sister Grace responded to the controversy by saying that it wasn’t harmful or abusive, and she definitely has the right to define her own narrative there. But Dunham called the controversy “really fucking upsetting and disgusting” and said that critics “demean[ed] sufferers” and seemed not to understand why people who actually had suffered child molestation might not laugh off her witty tale of toddler-bathing-suit-area exploration, because yes, kids do weird things and poke each other in inappropriate ways that are ultimately harmless, and then other times kids do it in ways that aren’t harmless at all and in fact are scarring for life such that teehee stories of such behavior makes survivors rather upset.

But being so hateful as to criticize her for her lighthearted account of intimately touching the genitals of her six-years-younger sister? Now that’s “upsetting and disgusting,” and you should be ashamed of yourself for thinking otherwise.

(After a self-described “rage spiral,” Dunham did come up for air long enough to insist, via Time, that she does not condone abuse under any circumstances and to apologize for her comic use of the term “sexual predator.”)

Bonus up-fuckedness: When Amy Schumer got pissed that anyone might think she’s “plus-size”

There’s nothing wrong with being plus-size, and plus-size women are beautiful, and God forbid anyone should think that she is, not that there’s anything wrong with that.

On the cover of their recent “Chic at Every Size!” special edition, Glamour included Amy with Melissa McCarthy, Adele, and plus-size model Ashley Graham as a group of “Women Who Inspire Us,” which Amy found inappropriate, because (she says) plus starts at 16 and she goes between a 6 and an 8. So she took to Instagram to express her umbrage that Glamour should associate her with something that there’s nothing wrong with.

I think there’s nothing wrong with being plus size. Beautiful healthy women. Plus size is considered size 16 in America. I go between a size 6 and an 8. @glamourmag put me in their plus size only issue without asking or letting me know and it doesn’t feel right to me. Young girls seeing my body type thinking that is plus size? What are your thoughts? Mine are not cool glamour not glamourous

Undoubtedly, Glamour included her on the list of beautiful-but-don’t-you-dare-say-I’m-like-them women (one of whom is literally a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue cover model) because her past statements about body positivity (the thing with Aphrodite on Instagram, her speech at the Ms. Gala) made her a Woman Who Inspires Them. I mean, she’s 160 pounds and can catch a dick whenever she wants. But what if some impressionable young woman were to look at her size-8ness and think she’s plus, which is totally okay and beautiful and not acceptable, not cool, Glamour? Won’t somebody think of the children?

So we’re done, right? I think we’re done here.

17 thoughts on Are we done with Amy Schumer and Lena Dunham yet?

  1. I personally could never stand Lena Dunham, ever since her shitty joke about Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka.

    Amy Schumer I can almost tolerate, but this is getting less and less the case.

    [Trigger warning at the link for murder. -C]

    In other news, I have found that I’m enjoying the humour of (the admittedly very white) Baroness Von Sketch.

  2. Dunham? Not funny. Schumer? Occasionally.
    When will we have white women who are as funny as Wanda Sykes or Sommore? “Detachable Pussy” never gets stale, is independent of race, and is unequalled for howling hilarious social commentary.

  3. Why do you care so much? Maybe the word “sanctimonious” as your tagline for this article should have been warning enough for me.

    Actually, I know why you care. It makes you feel good in a narcissistic sort of way to put people on pedestals and then drag them back down when they disappoint you for not being radically hyper-intersectionalist and uber-left enough. Go back to knitting vegan sweaters, cut the moralistic bull and trigger warnings, and grow up.

    1. It’s a BLOG POST. Do you know what those are for? If you want fair and balanced watch Fox News, apparently.

      Plus I’m pretty sure your comment is about 4.6 times more sanctimonious than this post could ever hope to be. People in glass houses and all that…

  4. My girl hate brings all the commenters to the yard, and they’re like “I’m better than her. Damn right, I’m better than her.”

  5. I’m really confused as to why we are giving Lena Dunham grief for wanting to grind up on Michael B Jordan because I thought everyone wants to grind up on Michael B Jordan?

  6. I’ve never been a big Dunham fan (tried watching Girls. Just …. couldn’t), but I’ve often found Schumer funny. And, I think both have, despite their flaws, made important contributions to feminism, in different ways.

    My question is, what does it practically and tangibly mean for “us” to be “done” with these two women? What, in particular, are you advocating? That “we” stop citing/referencing their work? Stop watching/reading their shows and publications? Stop following them on Twitter?

    I see this sort of opinion from time to time that we have to sort of ‘kick out’ certain feminists who make mistakes that are deemed grave enough to have them removed from feminism (or some such argument). and I think it’s important to be clear about what is meant by that.

    1. I don’t think anyone needs to be “kicked out” of feminism. (Well, that’s not true, I could give you some names, but not in this case.) My problem is just that they’re continually lauded as these Fresh Voices of Modern Feminism, even while they keep pulling stuff like this on the fairly reg. Obviously, everyone has their own definition of feminism, but I don’t like one that says it’s okay to punch down on men and women of color as long as you’re punching up on beauty standards and rape culture. Like, the Voice of Modern Feminism says that slut-shaming is wrong and Latina women are crazy.

      I’m not suggesting that anyone try to torpedo their careers or ban them from the airwaves. They have a voice and a platform, and they get to say what they want. But there’s appreciating that two proudly imperfect women are saying things that not a lot of other people are saying, and then there’s anointing them the modern feminist ideal. So I think it’s time to be done doing that.

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