Lena Dunham, Megan Rapinoe & White Feminism

I mentioned in my last post that I was a big football fan. Well, I’m a HUGE football fan. Like a two-time Fantasy Football champ level football fan. The NY Giants are my team and Odell Beckham Jr. is my man. I drafted him FIRST this year and I had the FIRST pick. Much faith has been placed in his beautiful, magical hands.

So, when Lena Dunham came out her neck talking about him like he was somehow in the wrong for daring to NOT hit on her at the Met Gala this year I was PISSED. It actually kind of shocked me how mad I was. It’s not because I’m a OBJ fan (I’m not down with the ODB nickname because it makes no sense, sorry Wu-Tang), it was because her statements smacked of so much entitlement and the very WORST form of white feminism it was hard for me to even stomach the interview. Here’s what she said word-for-word:

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.”

Sigh. There is so much to unpack here. Let’s start with the fact that Beckham Jr. didn’t actually SAY anything to her at all. So basically, here she is, a white, incredibly privileged woman putting words in the mouth of a black man. Secondly, she is basically whining that he didn’t think she was hot enough to look at. Which is so annoying because when she wore that tuxedo to the Met Gala I was like, “FUCK YEAH! Take THAT patriarchy!” And she managed to just undo it all in two seconds by complaining to her friend that a man wouldn’t talk to her because she was wearing a tuxedo. I’m no even going to get into all the over-sexualization of black bodies or the fact that she actually felt like she was OWED a come-on by the wide receiver. Cause, no.

Right when I was kind of, sort of, reveling in all the mean shit Twitter was saying while they savagely dragged Lena (while also feeling bad for her because, damn, the internet is mean) the amazing Megan Rapinoe went and changed the whole convo by kneeling  during the national anthem before the National Women’s Soccer League Seattle Reign vs. Chicago Red Stars match.

Rapinoe stated point blank that she was standing in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick and that she felt like the convo about his protest had been skewed:

“It was very intentional,” Rapinoe told American Soccer Now after the game. “It was a little nod to Kaepernick and everything that he’s standing for right now. I think it’s actually pretty disgusting the way he was treated and the way that a lot of the media has covered it and made it about something that it absolutely isn’t. We need to have a more thoughtful, two-sided conversation about racial issues in this country.”

And there it is. The difference between intersectional feminism and white feminism in two simple acts. White feminism embraces and gives voice to the struggle of white women, while ignoring their very real place of privilege in our society. For example, 61 years ago (almost to the day), OBJ very well could have been lynched if he had the balls to approach a white woman like Lena Dunham and make any sort of even remotely flirtatious gesture. Just ask Emmet Till’s mom.

Intersectional feminism recognizes the links between all struggles for equality and acknowledges the fact that until we are ALL free, none of us are. Anyone who considers themselves a feminist, which Dunham surely does, should know enough to realize that the women’s rights are related to racial oppression are connected to class and gender policing etc. If you’re going to be a public figure loudly upholding a “feminist” ideal then do your damn homework and think, for just one second, before you say some stupid shit to your friend during an interview or before you tweet out blatantly ridiculous shit like:

It’s not that hard. Rapinoe proved it. Right after she correctly pointed out that the media BS over Kaepernick’s protest was completely misdirected, she also connected it to her own experience. Sure, as a white women, she has privilege in America, but as a GAY white women, she’s facing her own struggles:

“Being a gay American, I know what it means to look at the flag and not have it protect all of your liberties. It was something small that I could do and something that I plan to keep doing in the future and hopefully spark some meaningful conversation around it. It’s important to have white people stand in support of people of color on this. We don’t need to be the leading voice, of course, but standing in support of them is something that’s really powerful.”

It’s really not that hard Lena, and no, an apology is not enough. There are only so many times you can say “I’m sorry” before you need to start thinking about what you say BEFORE it comes out of your mouth. Give Megan a call, she can probably teach you at thing or two. If not, just take a moment to really think about this brilliant tweet:

 

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