Thursday, November 6, 2014

Twitter Outrage and Reframing Someone Else's Experience

What's missing in the debate-slash-rage over a passage in Lena Dunham's that some, though not many psychologists, have interpreted as sexual abuse is her sister's narrative. I'm a not a fan of reframing someone else's experience for them, even when you have very strong, very real feelings about it. Her sister has spoken out, and they seem to be on good terms, but interpretation of what happened has gotten a little lost. Like most memes, a lot of the outrage is performative (which, if you know your Judith Butler, performative is not the same as performance), but that doesn't mean the pain behind it isn't very real. So yeah, I get that too.

(Another thing that bears mentioning is the implausibility of the whole thing, and that memoirists, particularly those who trade in being provocative, are prone to exaggeration, if not full-on fantasy.)

Dunham is symbolic of a lot of what's wrong with mainstream feminism; I don't think anyone would argue that. She also bears the responsibility of being a young, smart, feminist woman in ways I've not seen of other young famous women. (Do we really care what Gwyneth is doing these days?)  That she's both us (not conventionally attractive -- though I'd argue that -- not model skinny, not content on being a "good girl"), and not us (rich, white, well-connected) that makes it difficult to write about her in an intellectually honest way. Outrage is easier.