(Verbose is a series that aims helping me understand the way other people write, so that I can be a better writer myself. Feel free to skip if you are not too interested in what I am reading.)
Lately, I have been watching Girls. I realise that I am years behind, but it is now exam time. No need for elaboration.
I had heard a lot about it. Lots of people I admire claimed it was brilliant; fresh and respectable. I do not know much about Lena Dunham, but I have vague knowledge that she represents feminism in pop culture.
I have been enjoying the series a lot. The characters are very flawed and hesitant to acknowledge it. This is definitely something I see in real life. The lead character, Hannah, at the age of 25, has to ask her parents to lend her money to support her as she pursues being a writer in New York City. As someone who has considered a career in writing, this reflects a fear I have had since I started high school. The series is sometimes problematic – like in the way it handled Hannah’s OCD – but I find it to be significantly more satisfying than much of what currently exists.
I assumed Lena Dunham’s book would be a feminist self-help book. Before getting my hands on the book, I looked it up. It is actually an autobiography of her life. A lot of articles highlighted the panic surrounding the molestation between her and her younger sister. The whole incident turned out to be a colossal misunderstanding, which should not happen to any efficient writer. This was the first reason I was put off from reading her autobiography.
The Guardian, however, looked at it from a different perspective. The headline drew me in: Not That Kind of Girl review – Lena Dunham exposes all, again. Again? I wondered what they meant by that, as I was not aware she had had another book out. My curiosity heightened when I saw the term ‘clit lit’ in the lead.
The article gave me a deeper understanding of why ‘first world white feminism’ is so infuriating for many people. Dunham was raised by two recognised artists and been exposed to the media. Now, she uses the media to further talk about herself. I was alarmed that the Freeman, the writer, said tha the book and the series are just extensions of each other. How is someone so fascinated by their own lives that they feel they need to talk about in so many ways? Interestingly, Dunham’s character is often accused of being a self-absorbed narcissist in the series. It is surprising to hear that someone has gotten this criticism so many times and has chosen to earn money from it instead of rectifying the trait.
I do not think any form of struggle should be ignored, but I think some should be seen as more urgent than others. But Dunham is capitalising on her first world feminist problems – seven figures worth of capitalisation. I can understand what the Freeman says about an overshare of information. I do not think it is necessary to know so much about her experiences of sexual exploration is so many forms. That’s what clit lit is – literary exploring sexual experiences. Freeman highlights that while this may be helpful to young Americans who do not get a decent sex education, it also may reinforce patriarchal ideas that a woman’s sexuality is at the core of what makes her intriguing.
The Guardian’s review of the book has completely discouraged me from reading her book. I am at a stage where I want to be empowered by what I read. I do not feel that this can come from the words of a New York elitist who makes money from her hipster quirkiness. Especially if I can watch Girls to escape my responsibilities and get an identical insight into who she is.
[Header image credit: trbmng.com ]