Round Response

I wanted to make sure that all of you, gentle readers, got to see this response from “Cat” to yesterday’s post. It’s kind of beautiful.

AND, since looking in here I’ve seen some of the articles about the Girls thing. Like you, I haven’t watched it (I’m kind of afraid to get hooked on any current show–Brian lured me into Big Bang and now look at the time it takes). But this whole not-hot-enough-for-him hoohah just leaves me openmouthed and slightly sputtery, for reasons which are summed up pretty well on xojane: I mean, I mean, I MEAN (a la Arlo Guthrie)…you just don’t know where to START with the kind of arrogance that says, “I get to decide what’s hot–not just for me, but cosmically, utterly, for everyone, always”, or “having seen you on the street or in some social space for twenty minutes, or twenty seconds, I’m totally a better judge of your fuckability than you or your partners”, or “if I don’t want to fuck you, then no one could, possibly, ever, and if they do, they’re just messed up AND a personal affront to me.” Oh, and “Unlike everyone else, I am not a socially constructed being, so my narrow criteria for beauty are some kind of proof of something other than a very pervasive, remarkably restricted social standard which exists to sell stuff.” Really? Seriously?

I had also seen the xojane response. I wasn’t surprised that they’d come up with such a vivid and cheeky reaction to the whole mess. And it is a mess, a very real and very substantial mess rather than just a pop-culture flurry. Part of why I respect Dunham and her show, even though I’ve only watched one episode (and decided that I am just too old to stick with it–I love the young, have worked my whole professional life with them, joyously, but that doesn’t mean that I want to spend my free time rolling around in their very uncomfortable zeitgeist). Like (and yet so unlike) Buffy the Vampire Slayer, it plays with surfaces in order to talk about very important issues. And the whole business of Dunham choosing to be so naked, both literally and metaphorically is precisely where the seriousness of the whole project is located. The current flap gets at the core of all the complex matters, which, like so much that is violent (maybe all that is…) is about power. Dunham’s very complicated definition (or anti-definition) of female power, access, and authority is an affront, a considerable affront to the definitions on which many women have build their lives. So it’s terrifying for her to have her character Hannah have access to the same pool of more or less alpha males that women who fit the dominant modality do. Kind of like the way having an elegant and relentlessly articulate black man in the White House makes a great many white Americans terribly, possibly murderously uncomfortable.

Dunham, by virtue of guts, intelligence, guts, phenomenal luck/connections, and guts has managed to gather unto herself a not inconsiderable amount of power. She has a Voice, a place at The Table, a Name.  In the entertainment industry, of all places–the sector of culture that has, traditionally and currently, had the most merciless standards of physical appearance for women’s admission to the club. Much as I admire and rejoice in them, Rebel Wilson and Melissa McCarthy (and Camryn Mannheim and Conchata Farrell and Shelley Winters before them) are outliers. Dunham is a revolution. so of course she’s going to catch the sort of vicious flak she’s been catching. She’s a real threat to the status quo. God bless every single hair on her lovely head.

If the revolution doesn’t look exactly like we envisioned it would back in the 70s (maybe a little whinier and a little more self-obsessed–but that’s a genius bit of honesty, too, on Dunham’s part), well, that’s not a thing we get to gripe about, because Lena Dunham and her weird little/big show on (bless its heart, too) HBO is a blade cutting directly into the ropes of the patriarchy and its passion for imposing stupid, violent standards on us all.

I stand up for you, Ms. Dunham. I stand up.

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