An open letter to Lena Dunham and the women of America

Subject: An open letter to Lena Dunham and the women of America
From: Helen
Date: 22 Dec 2016

Most people will be aware of the comments made by Lena Dunham on her podcast this week. Whilst discussing reproductive rights in America Dunham described her reaction when she was asked if she wanted to take part in a project were women discuss their experience of abortion. Her comments can be seen below:

I sort of jumped. "I haven't had an abortion," I told her. I wanted to make it really clear to her that as much as I was going out and fighting for other women's options, I myself had never had an abortion.
'And I realised then that even I was carrying within myself stigma around this issue. Even I, the woman who cares as much as anybody about a woman's right to choose, felt it was important that people know that I was unblemished in this department,'

'So many people I love - my mother, my best friends - have had to have abortions for all kinds of reasons. I feel so proud of them for their bravery, for their self-knowledge, and it was a really important moment for me then that I had internalized some of what society had thrown at us and I had to put it in the garbage.
'Now I can say I still haven't had an abortion, but I wish I had,' Dunham said.

It was Lena final comment stating that she still hasn't had an abortion, but she wished she had that has caused a tidal wave of hate to roll her way. Was it the wrong thing to say? Yes! Does she deserve this level of hate? In my opinion absolutely not. In my opinion what Lena was trying to say was that due to the view of abortion thrown at women from a young age we have a view of it as something that is wrong or something "certain kinds" of women do. This view is so subtly indoctrinated in us that we are not even aware of it. The question she was asked made her realise this stigma she was carrying. Her comment that she "wished she had" in my opinion means she has recognised this thinking and realised it was wrong and she is standing in solidarity with all women who have made the difficult decision to have a termination. Perhaps she feels that if she had previously had an abortion people may take her more seriously in fighting for this cause.

Her comment was careless and no doubt upsetting for women who have been in such a position. Who can say that they have not said the wrong thing at one point? Especially when speaking about something they feel passionate about?. I know I do this often. We must remember that these comments were made as part of a discussion and we should use our common sense when interpreting what was meant by comments made. Lena Dunham is a feminist and a passionate campaigner for women's reproductive rights, she is not the one women of America need to be fighting with.

The level of hate aimed at Dunham on social media was in my opinion disgusting, countless comments suggesting Dunham's mother should have aborted her and other ludicrous and nasty suggestions. Even a full apology and a sizeable donation to the cause did nothing to improve the situation, the apology it seems was not worded correctly, was not sincere, was simply not good enough. I have seen more hate aimed at Dunham this week on Twitter than I have at Trump!!! This is insane!!!

The saddest part of this whole situation is that the whole point of the discussion on Dunham's podcast was the threat to reproductive rights of women. The recent developments in Ohio and Oklahoma demonstrate the real and imminent attack on the rights of women. This is what we should be fighting about!! And the person we should be fighting is not Lena Dunham, she is on our side!.

The outcome of judging activists so harshly is that it puts people off speaking out, we worry that we will be subjected to the same level of criticism, that our every word and sentence will be jumped on and used against us. This results in the silencing of women's voices across the world. This is not a time for us to be silent. With Trump America is facing it's darkest time and if allowed he could undo much of the good work feminism has done for us. Women of America please do no use your voice to criticise other women trying their best to protect your rights, use your voice to join the fight. Trump wants you to fight amongst yourself, please do not give him what he wants. Give him hell, give him solidarity, this is our only way to succeed.

Finally to Lena, I want to say you do have support, you are allowed to make mistakes and I appreciate your passion and commitment. Do not let this silence you, do not let this hold you back, we need you. I may be miles away in UK but I am with you all. Lets stand strong together.