On Lena Dunham’s Abortion Comment Brouhaha

Lena Dunham is having her ass handed to her right now on the Internet because of several comments she made on her podcast, Women of The Hour, pertaining to abortion. There is a particular self-awareness in where she starts, by exclaiming in relation to her own experience with abortion that, “Even I, the woman who cares as much as anybody about a woman’s right to choose, felt that it was important that people know that I was unblemished in this department.”

I get it. All of the conversations that are tethered to conception are deeply personal and especially capable of making a woman feel like she is a less-than version of herself. Can have, can’t have, did lose, never lost, and so forth. Even in my own experience following a pregnancy loss, I felt bullish about letting people know that I had conceived naturally, without IVF. As if to say, I’m a regular woman too. But who the fuck cares what got me, you, anyone pregnant? What’s important is that we’ve been there.

What’s ultimately problematic about Lena Dunham’s oral prose is where she says, “Now I can say that I still haven’t had an abortion, but I wish I had.”

No one seems to be comfortable with this comment. Understandably so — it is a bold statement to make, a comment that only someone in a position of privilege can make; but I know — I know — that Dunham meant no harm by saying it. What she wanted to do was empathize with women who have aborted. The problem with empathy, however, is that it is a uniquely narcissistic emotion. It makes the experience totally about the person who is trying to “get” it.

We’re taught over and over again to have empathy, to put ourselves in the shoes of others before making a judgement. But this is flawed advice because that still makes it about us. It’s just too…binary. We only know what we know. What would be better to demonstrate, I think, is compassion. Compassion requires that we broaden our purview. That we recognize the manifold sides of life’s coin and to try to understand them — to learn and expand. This is very hard and often requires vulnerability:

Lena Dunham wanted to put herself in the shoes of a woman who knew she wasn’t ready to have a child when she got pregnant and thus aborted. She did not think about the aftermath of an abortion, the very real experience of going from pregnant to not — whether at your volition or otherwise. She wanted to be supportive. There is nothing wrong with that. Did she consider any other prototype of woman who aborts? Not really. Which sucks. But one can hope that this reaction to her words will do exactly what it’s supposed to — expand her purview. So let’s have a little compassion, you know?

Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic via Getty Images. 

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  • no

    wow i can’t believe u guys r still kissing lena dunham’s ass

  • Vanessa

    LD has a history of making “controversial” comments like this one, probably in an attempt to be provocative/stay relevant, that are offensive and distasteful and even have racist undertones. Why is she so often the most visible spokesperson for feminism when there are so many other, more worthy candidates?

    • THIS. This is not a one-off. She thrives on this garbage.

    • BK

      My thoughts exactly. She’s so self-absorbed and it always makes her put an insensitive slant on whatever sensitive topic she’s bludgeoning that hour. If she really wanted to put herself in other peoples’ shoes and speak about their experiences, she would, but she doesn’t care to. I’m not saying she did this on purpose, and I’m sure she never meant to hurt anybody, but if she wants to be a respected public commentator she has to learn some insight and maturity.

      • Aydan

        I totally agree. I used to be her biggest champion when she stepped on the scene. But honestly being someone as well-educated and well-connected as she is, I don’t understand how she can continue to make missteps like this. To me its either a choice to consciously repeat the mistakes or her ignoring the backlash and not learning from it, as she should. The causes she champions are ones I believe in as well and I understand she’s speaking from white, female privilege, but I do believe that she still owes it to her community (however one may describe that) to ATTEMPT to look beyond. To bridge those gaps. To talk the right people. And actually attempt to look at the world not only through her point of view but that of others.

    • phattnatt

      I get why there are so many people that are upset with her… but the episode was pretty awesome, eye opening, and heartwarming. There was a lot of good info on being pro choice, and what we can do/what organizations to support in order make sure that a women’s right to choose is protected, which is such an important topic, especially come January.
      So, in response to your last sentence, who else has a podcast that’s just as thoughtful as Women of the Hour, or even more thoughtful, that I can listen to?

      • Guest

        Milo Yiannopoulos.

  • AlexaJuno

    Very yes. I’ve been thinking this all day. Lots of times I feel like Lena Dunham’s worst crime is being an impulsive, flawed human who dares to make mistakes in the public eye.

    • Not racism?

      • AlexaJuno

        There’s no denying that she’s made some regrettable comments. But I think that she’s shown growth throughout the years and learned from them. Even pointing to her comments about Odell. She admitted to a particular brand of insecurity that I can relate to. Having been in similar situations where I am the least femme gal in the room, it can lead to a certain amount of anxiety and projection about what others might think. That statement landed poorly with people and I can understand why, but I can also understand the insecurity behind it. If you take the time to listen to the rest of the episode, or any of the episodes in the podcast, they are fascinating, entertaining, and often moving accounts from women, discussing a number of issues, across many intersections. I get why she might rub people the wrong way, and that’s valid, but personally I don’t think she’s the monster people make her out to be. .

    • the back of yo head

      Not sexually molesting her younger sister for years?

  • disqus_5NJa22AaRh

    I’m sorry, I can’t make this comment make any sort of sense or be in any way excusable. It’s disgusting. It’s like Trump saying he wished he had a purple heart medal to the veterans who lost limbs. She so smug about being a media darling that it’s like she’s daring us to call her ugly or stupid or an idiot, so she keeps trying to prove the critics right. I don’t get it. And your defense is weak. YOU KNOW she meant no harm? Well, god bless. I KNOW a drunk driver doesn’t mean to kill a schoolbus full of kindergarteners, too. That and a few bucks will get that Mochachinno started for us at Starbucks.

    • You could not have said it better. And MR’s pathetic defense of Dunham is almost as bad as the actual comment in question. Sad to leave MR but this goes beyond human flaw.

      • Leandra Medine

        But what good are we doing by JUST reprimanding her? I have a hard time believing that her intention was to make women who have had abortions feel like shit about themselves. She was trying to connect – maybe it was tactless, definitely impulsive but I’m choosing to look at her humanity instead of villainizing her because what good does that do? I am SURE she has gotten the point. Heard it loud and clear. Hurt a fuck ton of women for whom this experience is deeply painful and personal (believe me. I get it.) but why not choose to be compassionate?

        • We do not need to keep giving women who do this shit repeatedly and gleefully 2nd (or 22nd) chances. And this goes beyond her. You best believe conservatives are using this as a rallying cry against pro-choice. She’s not a child, and she’s not stupid. Holding her accountable for her shit is oh so necessary.

          • Jamie Leland

            I’m with Leandra in the belief that she made a tactless and hurtful comment, but not with that intention. The thing that strikes me about Lena is that, yes, she is prone to these kinds of blunders (probably thanks to ignorance enabled by her immense privilege), but she also shows a willingness to learn from her fuck ups. I think that warrants compassion.

          • J.E. Pierson

            She keeps saying asinine things, so clearly she hasn’t learned.

          • Leandra Medine

            I’m with you here. She should be held accountable. I’m also sure she’s also feeling kind of embarrassed for trying to understand but inadvertently making it about her. I guess these days I’m just feeling like…people are good. Trying to see and intellectualize that is much more satisfying than broadcasting their flaws. I truly believe there is no current reality where she isn’t learning about a purview that is wider than her own in the wake of her comment.

          • Marion A.

            As unpopular as it is to give compassion and see her humanity instead of villainizing her I’m with you Leandra. Yes LD’s comment was distasteful but I’m not wasting any energy on hating her.

          • Julia Dodson

            Leandra, she’s not a bad person, she’s a person that lacks a real awareness because she’s blinded by her privilege. You don’t know what you don’t know. What would be interesting for Lena to do to gain some perspective is partner up with an NGO or a NYC CBO (community based organization) that are addressing real issues that are totally out of her purview. Issues related to poverty, drop out prevention, teen parents, LGBTQ, homelessness, etc. Get knee deep in it. For real. And get out of that comfortable bubble she’s in. I bet you she’d make better work. Leandra, you don’t have to defend her she’s an adult with power and access, she’ll be just fine. Great dialogue ladies!! xx

          • LJIS

            I don’t think her comment implies that she is “trying to understand.” It was ignorant and solipsistic. No analysis necessary. What she implies is that she’s “missing out.” Abortion is not something you do for fun or to “be like other women.” Many people defend and legitimize Lena’s narcissism and I’m not sure why. Because women are allowed to be narcissists, too, so we should be sure to empathize with her narcissism? Doesn’t work for me. Maybe she told you personally that she was “trying to understand.” We are allowed to be critical of her very public learning on the job. It’s OK to be offended by her comment. She makes a living being offensive. Sometimes it’s interesting and artful, and sometimes it doesn’t work. I’m not sure if she can’t help it or if it’s all a manipulation.

          • LJIS

            May I also add that if Lena Dunham really wants an
            abortion, she can make that happen. At least today, in New York state.

        • disqus_5NJa22AaRh

          My point is that we need to stop treating her and viewing her as some sort of spokesperson for….who? Us? Women? Young people? Why bother defending her or “looking at her humanity” at all? What is she famous for? Personal blog-level writing, knowing the right people and showing off her tummy rolls while wearing thrifted garb she’d no sooner look at in reality than a speck of dirt on her shoe. So unless you’re personal friends (in which case, cool…I get it, but you need to be upfront about it) she is not worth my time or attention. She’s quite literally ruining it (how we’re seen, how issues are framed) for the rest of us – good intentions or not.

        • I’m sorry, Leandra, but I don’t think I can find any compassion here regardless of her actual intentions.

          However, I do wish you much success – especially in becoming a mother. I know that struggle all too well and I pray you receive that joy you so long for! Stay strong. The pain is worth it – and all those other sappy things you’re tired of hearing by now.

        • Babs

          Could any of us make a fuck-up like this? Probably. I see your point. But I do think there’s a larger picture here, which is that these statements are really dangerous and ignorant. At what point do we say, “I’m sorry that happened. I hope you have a fine and happy life, but you are not a useful role model for me.” There are so many more thoughtful women we could spend our words on.

        • Aydan

          I think you’re right Leandra and now its time for her to stop playing the “its not my responsibility to account for everyone’s experience”. If she continues to project on platforms (LennyLetter, the podcast, etc.) about these different ideas she needs to understand her audience is more diverse than she can even imagine and though many respect her, she must do more because her “businesses” are claiming to do that, but don’t follow through.

        • i’m going to disagree – she lacks self awareness and tact. in the south, they respond to these situations with a succinct
          “bless her heart” translation: actions speak for themselves, I don’t need to comment

    • Claire

      exactly, i do not get why “meant no harm” is so frequently used as an excuse… i find it almost worse if someone makes an ignorant, racist, hurful or whatever comment and didnt even get what they are verbalizing. so not meaning it is good and fine, but being held accountable for what you do say is more important. not getting that its an insane comment shouldnt count to her advantage.

      i adore lena dunham, and like that she at least doesnt hold back, and i believe that when youre open and do so much public speaking on extremely hot topics, these blunders happen and shouldnt be blown up out of proportion. id rather have her do something, than sitting on the couch not using her platform because she might misspeak. so go for it, lena. just when she doesn happen to make such a comment, its also appropriate to point it out.

    • Guest

      “that it’s like she’s daring critics to call her ugly or stupid or an idiot, so she keeps purposely proving them right.”

      No no! You’ve hit the nail right on the head! I don’t understand how more women, men, critics, people of the world don’t get THIS is her modus operandi. It’s mental, and her 3rd wave feminism is grating. I don’t think smart enough to realize she’s proving them right, but she knows what she’s doing.

  • thepetite

    I really think that the problem with LD is that she doesn’t know how to express herself verbally. She is a better writer than a speaker. While I applaud she is so commited to this cause and I can sense her desire to empatize, her remarks are so wrongly said and because of that, the effect of her words is more perjuical than beneficial to the cause (and women in general)

    • Olivia AP

      Yes. I think that’s it.
      I like the part in the article about empathy vs compassion. But I’m having mixed feelings, we may know that it wasn’t her intention, but I think that when you are comitted to a cause you should do some research with the people you are supporting (even more when it’s something you didn’t go through) in order to avoid offending them. You know?

      • thepetite

        Definitely, 100% agree with you.

      • Adardame

        You could run your commentary by a friend who had been there. If you’ve never been there, and you don’t have a friend who has been there, perhaps you shouldn’t speak as if you’re an expert. On the other hand, if I don’t open my mouth and speak my mind at all, my beliefs won’t get corrected.

  • Ways Lena Dunham could have helped end abortion stigma: 1) Used her nepotism-given resources to provide a platform for women who’ve had one; 2) Donated money to non-profits working to protect abortion rights; 3) Donated her time to the same orgs; 4) Encouraged followers to do so; 5) Literally done anything that WASN’T centering herself in a gross display of attention-seeking shit that “pro-life” will see as validation. #sorrynotsorry, she is not getting a pass from me on this.

    • Jamie Leland

      She’s given to Planned Parenthood. Just a few seconds before this comment, she was telling a story about how she was donating her time to the organization. I’m certain she’s encouraged her followers to do the same. And just seconds after this comment, we hear from a woman who has had an abortion. She gives other women a platform to tell their stories through Women of the Hour and Lenny Letter. If you think she’s not doing all the things you listed, you’re not paying attention.

      • Damn right I’m not paying attention to her problematic (to put it mildly) ass.

        If she is doing all that, the next question is why she felt it necessary to center herself in a conversation that is NOT HERS.

        • AlexaJuno

          Well, if you refuse to acknowledge any good she might be doing in favor of getting outraged at comments taken out of context, then that’s on you. But the fact is, she has done many, if not all of the things you listed above.

          • First of all, NOTHING is out of context about that quote. What she said, and in the context said, is not fuzzy. Shit is clear as day. Secondly, yes I am outraged that she feels the need to center herself, and in a HARMFUL WAY, in a conversation that IS NOT ABOUT HER. Outrage is the right word. If we keep excusing this shit nigh endlessly she will only keep going.

          • AlexaJuno

            Except it really is. It is one small piece of an episode that addressed the abortion debate from many angles of rac, socioeconomic status, politics, religious views, and interpersonal relationships. What she presented was merely an anecdote pointing to how the stigma surrounding abortion had pervaded even her thinking as a passionate activist for reproductive rights. And again, if you want to go off the rails about her missteps, it would be nice if you educated yourself of her charitable acts as well. Also, the reasoning that because she has never had an abortion, this is not her conversation is more harmful than anything she’s said. Imagine if every woman who has never had an abortion decided that this wasn’t her fight?

          • 1) The anecdote about realizing she still internalized the stigma was great, and helpful. Taking the next (highly unnecessary) step and making it about her was NOT. It was actually very harmful.

            2) Being unapologetically angry about her harmful comments and saying she should be responsible for them is not “going off the rails” – and seriously, what a condescending and shitty thing to say.

            3) Yeah no, I have no interest in keeping a hawkish eye out for checks I can put in Lena Dunham’s “nice” column when she has consistently been horrible to many groups, and then hides behind the dual shields of white woman fragility and good intentions when she is called out on her harmful words.

            4) I never said abortion is not her conversation. Indeed, I gave a plethora of suggestions as to how she could participate in that conversation. The problem, as usual with her, is appropriating and putting herself at the center, to keep the spotlight on Lena Dunham. So no, telling her not to speak for me is not “more harmful than anything she’s said.” Please miss me with that shit forever.

        • Jamie Leland

          Don’t all womb-possessing humans have a voice in the conversation about reproductive rights/choice?

          • Womb possessing =/= actually having an abortion. Making it about her instead of people who have is shitty, full stop.

          • Jamie Leland

            I fail to see how she was “making it about her.” The comment was in the context of a short anecdote between pieces illustrating how she was affected by the stigma surrounding abortion.

            That aside, does she need to do better? YES! And we should absolutely hold her to a higher standard. But ostracizing someone who’s on your side because she failed (hard) in conveying her actual meaning will only discourage other people from speaking up for a cause. I’m pretty sure most people have said things with the right intentions from a place of ignorance and have learned from the experience, but people react to those instances with hostility rather than compassion, they might be silenced.

          • If you truly fail to see how “I wish *I* had an abortion!” (which is not a thing people who have actually experienced it would say, and hence why she should not SPEAK FOR THEM) is making it about her, I have nothing left to say to you.

          • AlexaJuno

            That all depends on how you see the statement. If you actually believe she runs around thinking, “Gee, I think having an abortion would be a wonderful idea” You willfully ignore the intention behind the thought, which is empathy. The statement wasnt well thought out, but I don’t find the backlash to be particularly thoughtful either. It’s a spasm of indignant righteousness as a response to a set of poorly crafted words with no acknowledgment of the intention behind them.

          • Fluffy_Dunlop

            How come you know her intention? Are you a mind reader?
            And as so many others already pointed out “meant no harm” =/= “did no harm”
            Btw, I am German pro-life. LD is much less relevant than you think. In Europe,let alone the rest of the world, she is unknown. I came across this thing today by coincidence.
            Maybe you should leave your bubble someday. In the real world, Trump is President.
            Back to the topic: I love Miss Dunhams line. It gives Feminism a bad name, as it deserves. Cheerio!

  • Stephanie

    Excuse me? I’m just going to link this Brene Brown video riiiight here:
    Compassion and vulnerability are what separate empathy from sympathy. Sympathy means you acknowledge someone’s loss or plight and try to relate, whereas empathy means you take on some of their hurt, usually through shared experiences, bearing witness or supporting the person in silent respect and reverence. Lena’s comments tried to venture into the realms of sympathy, took a turn for the self-centered and dove head first into pity. Just because you WANT to be the voice of all young women everywhere, doesn’t mean you are suitable for the job. A wiser woman wouldn’t have tried to speak for what is a deeply personal choice that she has never even experienced. Offer your support, not your opinion as if it were God.


    • BK

      WORD X1 million

    • Mariana

      I love this video so much.

  • zadieblair

    I love Women of the Hour, it is hands down one of my favorite podcasts of all time. It’s not just Lena Dunham speaking, it’s all types of women whose stories are told, who have the chance to express themselves. The topics are insightful and I’ve teared up more than a few times when listening and hearing women and girls who haven’t previously had their voices heard in the media.

    I enjoyed this latest episode on “choice.” I wish more people would have listened to the podcast to understand her context. Is Lena Dunham perfect? No, however her intentions are good and as a feminist woman of color, I choose to try to lift up fellow women who are giving each other platforms to express themselves, all the while being flawed human beings who are growing, evolving, and making mistakes.

    Last year, right before my final year of graduate school, I found myself pregnant, despite being told that I was practically infertile due to a medical condition. At this point, my partner and I had been married for four years, together for seven and we were completely thrown by this. I found myself having to make a choice I never thought I’d be faced with and I chose abortion, to be able to pursue the career I’d work so hard for, to be financially solvent, and for many other reasons I won’t go into in this (already long) comment. I teared up when she made that statement, because 1. I could relate and 2. I felt like she was giving a nod to the courage of women who have to make this choice, from all walks of life and for all types of reasons. I felt grateful for that.

    • Senka

      But giving it a nod is one thing, and saying she wished she’d been through that another. You for a fact know how hard it is to make the decision. How painful. I personally believe it’s a brave thing to do. Yet aknowledge it’s a painful and difficult process, and don’t try to undermine it.

    • Rachel

      Thanks for sharing! I have to agree with you- LD is not perfect, no one is. But she is consistently trying to do right by women of all backgrounds. Could she serve to think a bit more before she speaks? Absolutely. But I cannot reprimand her or defame her because I know deep down her intentions are good. At least she is starting a conversation. I am shocked by the commenter above for comparing her to Donald Trump. Trump didn’t want to sympathize with purple hearts, he wanted to the glory of and recognition purple hearts receive for their fearlessness. LD wants to be able to feel with her sisters, especially given the fact that women are RARELY recognized as brave after receiving an abortion, even though in my opinion, they should be. Thanks, MR, for bringing this to light and starting a conversation.

    • Babs

      Thank you for the reminder to get full context before criticizing. I think that is important and am guilty of jumping the gun in more than one comments section.

  • Imaiya Ravichandran

    ugh, I feel really conflicted right now. all my friends are women of colour and all of them hate lena dunham with a fiery passion. it’s always made me feel a little awkward (sheepish,even?) because I’ve low-key loved her ever since reading her first book. i think she’s an amazing writer and i’m a sucker for great writing. for the most part, i’ve brushed off her offensive and myopic comments as innocent flukes. Comments that were rooted in good intention but poorly executed. or that she’s a better writer than a verbal communicator, so let’s not fault her for something she can’t help. but like so many people have said, how many times does this need to happen before it becomes one time too many? i refuse to believe that lena is dumb. there is no way that all these stupid quips are the result of simple lapses in judgement. there’s something more here but what that is exactly is beyond me. maybe she’s intentionally trying to stir the pot? maybe she’s just a run of the mill narcissist who’s perspective isn’t nearly as inclusive and as compassionate as she would have us believe? i would really hate for that to be the case. it would just undermine all her talent and the undeniably cool things she’s done for women, dumb comments aside.

    • Adardame

      This reminds me of a problem I had with a co-worker for awhile. I really didn’t like her, but I tried to be friends because we worked closely, and I believe in being nice to people. I kept offending her with jokes that seemed good when I said them but probably weren’t the best idea in retrospect. And I finally came to the conclusion that my base dislike was leaking through even though I thought it was buried.

      It makes me think that this lady might have a core belief that is contradictory to some of the things she’s trying to stand for.

      • BK

        PLOT TWIST! I love it. It’s plausible though. I think she’s actually got some unconscious contempt for other women buried somewhere, or perhaps people who are/have been vulnerable in their lives?

  • Julia McVeigh

    I think Lena Dunham has got a problematic tendency to self-analyze to a fault. Not every situation warrants intense introspection and not every situation is relatable. I lost a sibling as a kid and I know even my best friends and husband cannot comprehend my worldview. But just because they don’t have my perspective – which is both a blessing and a curse – doesn’t make their love and support less impactful OR meaningful. I think LD failed to recognize that key point and, instead, sought a way to insert herself into a situation she will (hopefully) never need to actually understand.

    • Imaiya Ravichandran

      woaaah i never thought of it this way, and I think you’re totally right.

      • Julia McVeigh

        Thanks so much. New commenter here! Also really enjoyed reading your thoughts. 🙂

    • Leandra Medine

      This is exactly what I mean about the problem with empathy and why compassion is much more important. Thank you for articulating it better than I could.

      • gryswtr

        A recent book, I think called The Problem With Empathy (or something similar) really dug into this in an interesting way.

        • Leplace’s Demon

          You might be referring to the book “Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion”, which speaks directly to the point of empathy sometimes driving us to some morally questionable conclusions and compassion’s ability to always start from the right place.

          • gryswtr

            Ah thanks you nailed it!!

          • Sam

            Gotta check this out. Thank you!

      • Sindiso Tshuma

        Empathy & Compassion should never be about enabling bad behaviour though. At some point we need to be able to call out bad or distasteful behaviour period. And LD’s comment was simply poor and ill thought.

        • LadyLeo

          True. Plus LD’s asinine remark is not a case in point example of how empathy is “narcissistic.” Empathy and not narcissism are not synonymous. They are opposites. LD admitted her remark was a “distasteful joke.” She was trying too hard to be radically humurous. Empathy is getting a bum rap in this piece.

      • Anna

        I think it’s not a problem with empathy but with understanding “empathy” wrong. Empathy by definition isn’t a narcissistic or egocentric emotion at all. It’s about trying to understand how someone else feels and not about PRETENDING to understand how someone feels and to make the whole thing about yourself.

        • Cristina


        • Sam

          I like this point, but empathy is especially tricky to navigate when you’re a public figure, I think, because you’re ALWAYS going to sound like you’re making it about you by virtue of being in a position where people and media outlets listen to you. Most of us experience empathy in private. I’m not a fan of Dunham and I do think she put her foot in her mouth here, but I also think celebrities (especially white celebrities) are going to have blunders like this when venturing upon the subject of activism, in part because of their privilege.

        • Ciccollina

          THANK YOU. Oh my goodness.

      • LadyLeo

        I agree with Anna. Empathy isn’t the problem. Defining empathy as “narcissistic” is putting a whole lot of inapplicable pathology into It that doesn’t exist or fit. Empathy and compassion are both benign (kind and caring) emotions. Wishing she had an abortion is not empathy. It’s just an asinine case of trying too hard to be radically humorous, relevant and relatable. Empathy has nothing to with all that mess.

        LD admitted her in her apology that her asinine remark was a “distasteful joke.” Distasteful jokes are the opposite of empathy.

      • LadyLeo

        But LD’s remark about wishing she had an abortion is not “empathy.” That’s just a weird way of trying to stay radically relevant by being outrageous. That’s not empathy. Empathy is just fine. We don’t need to redefine empathy as a pathology (narcissism) or try to make her remark about empathy when it was a “distasteful joke” in her own words.

        • Sam

          I think altruism can be seen as a kind of narcissism, considering it helps the person acting as much as the recipient of the act. It always feels good to help someone, and whether we want to admit it or not we put a proverbial feather in our caps every time we do it, regardless of whether we share the story. Empathy, like you say, is different. I don’t know that we get anything “feel good” out of it, as the understanding that we gain of another person’s life is often crushing in a number of ways once we begin to examine our own lives and how another’s situation would affect us.

    • belladonna_16

      That is a very elegant way of noting that LD needs to extract her head from the depths of her own ass. She has stepped in It several times, it seems, by being completely oblivious to her own privilege. I think it’s past time for her to stop talking and just listen for a bit.

      • This!!

      • GordonTrenchard

        Too true. A question I struggle with is what will she do next? I don’t see her ending that horrible show and living a quiet life in the South or Midwest. She needs the attention which appears almost a pathology at this point.

    • LadyLeo

      Amen! I think your comment is a perfect example of what empathy is (supportive loving-kindness) vs what Lena said, which is not empathy. LD was just made a weird ass remark that she thought was radically humorous and outrageous in an envelope pushing way. She admitted it was a “distasteful joke.”

  • Paula R

    I like LD, I listen to her podcast but I haven’t listened to this one yet. However, reading Leandra’s article…I’m gonna go ahead and say that I doubt I’ll feel as enraged as many of the people who are commenting on this. We make mistakes and say stupid shit all the time and the fact that we could get so angry at LD for saying what she did, scares me. We have to be more compassionate…we just do.

  • Allison

    I look forward to the day when we stop giving Lena Dunham a platform and idolizing her as a role model or voice for young American women. She grew up a privileged white girl in Tribeca and can’t empathize with a fraction of the issues people in our country face (and I am not trying to be so narrowminded as to say she is completely unscathed and free of hardship in life) yet is continually making remarks that are misinformed and tactless. Do people deserve compassion for mistakes? Sure, but unfortunately she chooses to live a life in public, therefore is inherently subject to more scrutiny and has to be that much more careful about what she says because of how it can be misinterpreted. We all say the wrong thing sometimes, but how many times do you get a pass for being moronic when you were actually trying to be insightful or understanding? Doesn’t really add up to me, especially when so many women get quickly brushed off for saying much less offensive things in everyday life because they are considered “wrong”. Appreciate trying to spread compassion in any form at any time, but I think we can spend that energy on more useful causes and people than Lena Dunham’s weekly faux pas. We’re all just making her more relevant by talking about it. If her controversial behavior constantly needs to be defended, maybe her millionaire “best friends” should start speaking up on her behalf. Taylor Swift I’m looking at you, girl!

    • Cristina

      ::round of applause:: yes yes yes!

    • deyna

      Taylor Swift is also problematic though…

  • nevvvvave

    This really rubs me the wrong way. Why does MR have to publicly come to Dunham’s defense as if this is the first and only time that she’s made some kind of ill-conceived, myopic comment in a professional context. The one thing about this piece that’s spot on is identifying that she’s a narcissist. But the wealth and privilege of Dunham’s life is shield enough for whatever dumb things she says, as has been proven time and again….Like if you guys are personal friends then feel free to believe what you want but MR is deluding itself if they thought most of their readership would blindly agree with this assessment

    • Leah

      Couldn’t agree more. I’ve never seen her as an inspiration to women, really. She needs to stick to making TV shows rather than trying to become some kind of feminist spokesperson when she clearly isn’t cut out for that level of deep thinking. Her endorsement of the Kardashians and her support for Emily Ratajkowski showcase that. There’s supporting women calling the shots, and there’s supporting women who sell their overly sexualised, male-gaze focused image for profit.

      However if we want to talk about punishment outweighing the crime, that is a completely different topic entirely.

      • nevvvvave

        I agree that she’s clearly out of her element by trying to be some kind of unofficial spokesperson for these issues; and her public endorsement/support of people who sell a male-dictated version of sexuality and call it “empowering” is so stereotypical Liberal Feminist to the point of comedy. While it’s true that the ~internet~ reacts with disproportionate aggression (shocker), I don’t see the need for a publication like MR to act as her defender. Let’s not forget that intention to cause harm is not a prerequisite for causing it.

      • Tess

        Would you mind articulating what you find problematic about supporting Emily Ratajkowski? Not trying to debate, purely curious.

  • Bailey Stark

    Lena probably said the comment to show her support on the topic, I don’t think she meant any harm by it. Yes, it was totally inappropriate to say, and she should not have said it, but insulting anyone was not her intention.

  • Hyuna Kim

    The problem I have with Lena Dunham is that she seems so ignorant of her own privileges. She keeps making these remarks that are controversial (stupid) not because of her lack of compassion, but because she hasn’t spent enough time admitting to her own privileges. Most of the things she says seem like “white girl problems” to me. I wouldn’t be so annoyed with it if she didn’t have such a big audience and platform.

    • PCE

      Agreed! this is my greatest irritation with her. She’s one of those people who would gladly call me out on my “privilege” without acknowledging her own, EVER.

    • Cristina

      Also, could we all just note how she TRIES SO HARD with her fashion? Like she purposely dresses terrible for her body shape, to help fulfill this hipster, feminist persona she has made up? Does NO ONE else ever think that?! lol

  • DireMouse

    Surely she wishes that her mother had aborted her – think of the Cred!!

  • PCE

    Nope, sorry MR. I can’t forgive her for this one…. don’t get me wrong, I’m pro-choice, and I don’t think women who have had abortions should be stigmatized. But this comment is not okay. Why? Because she’s just trying way too hard to be that “open minded” liberal hipster that always wants to “understand” the plight of the disenfranchised in this country, and her statement completely undermines her efforts. She needs to understand that IT IS OK to not fully understand the experience of others, and that your support and acknowledgment of their struggles can be enough. I am a white woman – I can never, ever fully understand what it feels like to be a Black, Hispanic, Asian, Native American woman in this country. Ever. I CAN support them and acknowledge that although I don’t and can’t know how they feel, I respect their feelings.

    Same goes for women who have had abortions. I’ve never had one, so I can never ever understand how they feel. And who is “they” anyway? Each woman’s experience is different. That’s another reason her comment is so stupid…even if she’d had an abortion, who is to say that she could understand what another woman’s abortion experience was? For some women, it could be a completely logical decision, for others it could be agony. She can wish all she wants that she had one, but she didn’t, so saying this was really just pointless and stirred up a lot of shit for a lot of people.

    She’s an intelligent woman, she needs to think this stuff through before she speaks.

    • Grace B

      I agree with you 100% PCE, thanks for putting this into words so eloquently.

  • Adardame

    I read piece a few years ago about how empathy is much better than sympathy because empathy means you’re coming from the same place while sympathy means you’re trying to be nice to someone who experienced something you can’t understand. I feel this piece expresses a similar concept with different words.

    In my personal life I may have been in another’s shoes before, but if it has been a few years I am libel to say something wrong. I forget many of the details. I try to keep that in mind when other people are attempting to sympathize with me.

  • Celeste

    I think she is touching lightly, and with total naiveté, on the feminist equivalent of white guilt. Instinct, selfishness, the overlay of intellectual compassion: we all have complex responses. Analyze the individual’s flaws, sure, but they are mirrored, magnified and fetishized in in the collective. Hold her, and us all, accountable but the answers and the blame, that’s a gestalt, baby! Let’s move on from Lena Dunham herself and on to where she is clumsily pointing.

    Also I’ve had an abortion, it was such a no-brainer that I don’t think of it that much. Lately, in in talking with other women, I find myself bringing the story out and trotting it around like a tired trope straight from Lifetime. I feel the pressure to have experienced some pain. It can feel like a prerequisite to being a “real” liberal. Does outrage have to come with a modicum of experience?

  • LadyLeo

    LD can’t seem to stop inserting foot in mouth. Sigh. It gets old.

  • Sindiso Tshuma

    When someone like Lena says something as stomach turning as this we find a way to defend her. Let someone like Trump say something equally distasteful and we scream bloody murder. Lena is a talented writer, but that’s just about all she is that’s worthy of our attention and praise.

    • Luisa

      I could not agree more. I think this is a big reason why people find liberals (elite) insufferable, self-righteous and hypocritical. And that attitude, I believe, definitely helped Trump win.

  • Linda

    Empathy is the opposite of Narcissism.
    “Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for admiration and a lack of empathy for others. But behind this mask of ultraconfidence lies a fragile self-esteem that’s vulnerable to the slightest criticism.”
    Narcissism, just like autism, is a problem weber the person doesn’t have empathy.

    • MK

      on a separate note, let’s not compare narcissistic PD to autism spectrum disorder. people who have autism *can* be empathic, they just don’t always express it in the way that others do.

      • LN

        THANK YOU.

  • I disagree with empathy being a ‘purely narcissistic emotion’ – as it is not an emotion. And, the ability to be compassionate requires some form of empathy – the ability to understand that how another person experience something and seeing it from their point of view. There is nothing empathic about Lena Dunham’s comment – had she been the tiniest bit empathic, she would have found a better way to express it.

  • Senka

    Abortion is and has to be an option for women who are pregnant and can’t or don’t want to keep the child. It’s important to have that choice. Yet it doesnt make the act of abortion easy at all, to anyone. I have never heard of a woman who experienced it without certain level of physical pain, struggle, emotional pain and confusion and possibly depression as an outcome. It’s the worst case scenario, in which woman suffers a lot. By saying that I don’t in any way deny that it’s still important to have right to chose wether to do it or not. It’s just that it’s painful, and difficult, and like u pointed out, we must show compassion, understanding and support who those that have to go through it. But never assume it’s some rite of passage or an achievment. She may have phrased it wrong, I’ll give her benefit of the doubt.

  • Luisa

    The problem is that this is someone who has consistently made potentially important conversations about her. I would agree with you, Leandra, if this was a surprise from her–it’s not. I think you can see, clearly, from her work that this is someone who is not capable of real compassion. She is capable of mimicking empathy, and is *initially* charismatic. She has a deep emptiness in her she is trying to fill. This is called having Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I genuinely wouldn’t wish the hell Lena is living through (privately) on anyone. I have compassion for her, and I think she needs help.

  • jess

    Someone like Lena who, whatever critiques you can make about her, has been a significant player in the feminist movement in the past several years, is constantly under scrutiny by the media, who wait with baited breath to pick up on anything that can be used against her. It happened to many radicals before her (Germaine Greer has said her share of clunkers) so its no surprise that everything she says is made into a headline.

    In this case, the comment was an extremely misguided one that was ignorant of millions of women’s experience with abortion. To “wish” you had suffered something so horrific that a lot of women do because they have no other option, is massively self-centred and comes from a place of great privilege.

    However! I think we all know what she was trying to get at. The idea that she wanted to say it to shock in order to gain publicity is absurd, as she already has plenty. To argue that she doesn’t care about the struggles of women who have had abortions is to completely take it out of proportion and disregard the activism she has done to help women keep or recieve their reproductive rights. Any assumption that it was meant to harm anyone is unfair and indicative of the hive mentality that arises when you see a headline on the news without waiting for the full details, akin to a witch hunt.

  • Jennifer

    I have to totally disagree with empathy being narcissistic, although there was a time when I thought this myself. Feeling the pain of others is making a connection for both of you. Empathy is natural to some people, and some have to push so that they don’t live in their own bubble. Neither of these things are selfish, even if they do include another person in suffering. Making it about US – more than I, more than you. US. That is the point. Compassion and empathy aren’t separate, this is what I find binary thinking. We are all connected, and that does mean we all share the pain, but it also helps us ease that collective pain.

    • Antoinette

      Jennifer. I agree with you. I don’t see it as narcissistic either. I strongly believe that because empathy requires you to put yourself in the other person’s shoes, and try to envision their pain/situation, it is not about you but about the connection. You won’t be able to understand a thing entirely if you haven’t experienced it, but to view empathy as narcissistic, is dangerous. Empathy is necessary for humans to try and understand an experience that is far from ours, and not think of it in abstract terms. When I was a child and couldn’t connect with certain situations, my parents always asked me to put myself in the person’s shoes. It helped me to get a better understanding of grief, pain, loss, hurt, sadness, and the plight of people and children who were less fortunate than myself. Although many times I didn’t share the experience, empathy was the journey that led me to have a greater understanding and eventually brought me to a compassionate place.

      Empathy, I believe, is a precursor to compassion (especially when we haven’t ever experienced the thing) and should not be dismissed, as it is such a necessary component to maintaining our humanness and connectedness with each other.
      LD’s comment was insensitive and I think she has a lot of growing, learning, listening and more importantly, reflecting to do.

      Love and light to everyone reading and or commenting.

      • Jennifer

        We all have such narrow life experiences in the grand scheme of things, I really don’t know how we could survive without empathizing as much as possible with others different from us. Compassion alone is not enough, if it’s even possible, because I agree, empathy is a precursor.
        Side note/thought: Don’t we call people without empathy psychopaths? I’ve never heard of compassionate psychopaths either.

        • Antoinette

          You’re absolutely right! I think without empathy, we survive and exist, but not truly live.
          I could be wrong, but I think that psychopaths have the ability to empathize, but they can switch it on and off. Sociopaths on the other hand, lack empathy completely, although new research suggests they may have something like it, which boils down to kinda, sorta, but not really.. semblances of it I guess.

          • Jennifer

            Actually, you reminded me, psychopath isn’t an official term. Sociopath is. Sociopath is what I meant/should have said. And it also matters how someone with a sociopath brain is raised, depending on the amount of trauma they endured, that affects their ability to empathize. I think it is harder, and they have to work at it, but it’s not completely missing. I’ve only read and watched a few things on the science behind the sociopath brain so I am no expert here, but I know empathy is a main issue.

          • Antoinette

            Been so long since I dabbled in that discipline.. You may be right!

  • MG

    MR, it is time to respectfully part ways from LD. She is funny, creative, and smart but she is also toxic. I keep going back to when girls was criticized for being too white/waspy/jewish and so they added Donald Glover to the cast for a few episodes and she was like, I am not racist Hannah fucked a black guy and then he was gone and the show resumed its regularly scheduled white programming. She does not seem to take lessons to heart. Which get to the whole point of intention. Intention does not matter. It can’t matter anymore. Too many people have suffered from other’s good intentions. There are many people truly do not intend to be racist or sexist or inconsiderate yet those actions can yield the same results as ill intent. So regardless of her intentions, she was gross and wrong. And this isn’t the first time she has been gross and wrong. She is not an ally or friend of women or minorities. I honestly do not believe that she can imagine a pov other than her own and that is where these perennially bizarre and offensive comments come from.

  • Ellery

    “The problem with empathy, however, is that it is a uniquely narcissistic emotion. It makes the experience totally about the person who is trying to “get” it.”

    You don’t understand what empathy is if you think this.

    • Louise

      Absolutely agree. True empathy has nothing to do with narcissism.

  • mollco

    In season 1, episode 2 of Girls, Hannah says to her gynecologist, “Maybe I’m not actually scared of AIDS. Maybe what I actually am is wanting AIDS.” It’s easy to brush off when she’s “acting” in a tv show, but IRL Lena proves time and again that she is not very different from ridiculous, narcissistic, tactless, dense, foolish Hannah Horvath — the character she wrote into being. We can all stop being surprised at this point when LD says things that are controversial and unproductive to feminism. Let’s move past our anger and focus on supporting more effective, logical, and eloquent spokespeople for women. LD has received enough recent backlash to change if she wants to, but her actions will not dictate my willingness to forgive and extend grace and mercy.

    • BK

      I immediately thought of that episode too when I first read the story. I doubt Lena Dunham will ever change at this point; I’m pretty certain she thinks starting this same sort of controversy by making some asinine remark is akin to starting a genuine conversation. Let’s dump her altogether and find better public voices to represent women.

    • Holly Laine Mascaro

      Ugh I hate her character, I forced myself to watch the first season of the show because everyone was raving about it and finally just couldn’t anymore. Too many face palms and gag-myself-motions. They’re all too spoiled and ridiculous. Her character is the worst. I was shocked more people didn’t see it too at the time.

    • e

      The problem with her is that she often comes across like one of those kids that are so privileged that they wish they had something wrong with them to be “more interesting”

    • Fluffy_Dunlop

      Too bad you are unwilling to extend grace and mercy to unborn children.

  • Laura

    This article is everything that is wrong with white feminism. 1.) If you described yourself as “unblemished” for not having had an abortion, it would follow that you believe those who have had an abortion as “blemished”, which is disgusting. The writer never acknowledges this and it should because it is just offensive, if not more offensive than saying she wished she’d had an abortion. 2.) She only describes Lena Dunham’s comments about wishing she’d had an abortion as “problematic” not highly offensive or disturbing. Hardly a “compassionate” response. 3.) The writer described Lena Dunham’s comments as “prose”. LOL. Okay. 4.) Just because Lena Dunham “meant no harm” doesn’t mean she didn’t do harm. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. 5.) The writer has an incorrect definition/view of empathy “The problem with empathy, however, is that it is a uniquely narcissistic emotion. It makes the experience totally about the person who is trying to “get” it.” Empathy correctly understood and implemented is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another in order to help the other person. It’s only about you to the extent that you are able to comfort and support the one you are seeking to understand and share the feelings of. So basically, it’s not actually about you and thus doesn’t prove the point she was trying to make. 6.) The article doesn’t acknowledge that she has said offensive and careless things like this countless times. I’m serious when I say I’ve lost count. 7.) The last paragraph makes me gag. It says “She didn’t think….She wanted to be supportive. There’s nothing wrong with that.” Actually, there is – think before you speak, use your brain. 8.) The article ends by saying “Let’s have a little compassion.” Right now, the most compassionate response to Lena Dunham’s foolishness is to stop excusing her for saying incredibly offensive things, and to call her out and demand that she not talk about important issues publicly any more for a while. She needs to listen to what the public is saying and learn from their response. Unfortunately, she keeps running her mouth.

    • LJIS

      YES to all

  • Camilla

    I feel so insecure whenever I hear people hating on her. What she writes and says are the closest things I’ve found to my inner monologue. Its scary how much people would hate me if I said what I thought.

    I’ve definitely thought, I wish I had an abortion before. I’d been standing in a group of people with a friend I know had an abortion while another person argued it was evil. It was just an impulse of wanting to be there with my friend’s pain. I don’t actually wish I had an abortion.

    The AIDs comment though, even though it was her character, if someone is struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts it is very common to have cancer or other illness fantasies.

  • Fukti

    She tires so hard in every way to relate to others, like that rich kid who wants to prove she has experienced the struggle, whatever that might be. No respect for this slob cant stand her and her entitled privilege know it all ways.

  • Vic

    As appalled as I am with Lena’s comment and her need to make herself a victim, I am incredibly distracted by what is going on with her fringe in this picture.

  • Cristina

    I’m really ready for her to stop playing the victim after she says something stupid. You know right from wrong, or you wouldn’t have to publicly apologize for whatever idiotic thing you just said, and somehow relate to yourself as a victim. Or in this case a “delusional girl persona”. It’s always something. Just own up that you don’t think before you speak and come across very insensitive trying to drum up interest for your agenda from your politically correct pedestal.

  • Tess

    I think the crux of this issue is that abortion is not a one-size-fits-all experience.
    For some it is a meaningful choice, for others it is a decision without meaning. By saying she wished she had an abortion she disrespected the former, those who were traumatized emotionally, physically, stigmatized, or even ostracized. But at the same time, her comment (I think) was meant to empower the latter. To say: abortion does not have to be made into this big thing, for some the choice isn’t a choice at all, just a simple medical decision. Abortions are personal; how one decides to define it is up to herself.

    • You are giving her FAR too much of a benefit of the doubt for empowering the latter.

  • Lisa Handley

    Why would anybody care what she said?

  • alien princess~

    thanks for writing this – not only for the POV you’re sharing but also for the great debate and dialogue that’s coming out in the comments. everyone has a slightly different opinion, but it’s merely that … an opinion. we can better grasp the impact of LD’s comments when we converse with others to see how it directly impacted them/made them feel or react.

  • Molly

    I don’t know what do to w/ Lena Dunham. She isn’t so woke. On the one hand I want to give her the benefit of the doubt and say, “getting woke is a process and often doesn’t come w/out some mistakes.” At the same time, this is a woman who, for some time now, has presented herself as 1)woke and 2)mediator/advocate for women’s issues, while simultaneously not really doing her homework. So while she may be ignorant, for which I am truly sorry, the things she does in ignorance still causes real harm. She is, for better or worse, a representative of young, liberal, college-educated, white women, which, when she says shit like this, does them a disservice. Not to mention the pro-choice movement. It might be one thing if she was one smaller voice, but with her kind of power, her social megaphone, she doesn’t seem to be living up to that responsibility, and it is a responsibility.
    I hope she will apologize and try to use this as a learning opportunity for herself and for the public. But sadly in the past she hasn’t really done this. It’s a big ask, but kind of necessary if her aim is to really facilitate the exploration/education of women’s issues.

  • Leyla Javadova

    I’m not against Lena Dunham, I really am not but I am getting tired of her constant out-of-place comments regarding women in general. I’m sure she didn’t ‘get’ why her comment on abortion is wrong, but as MR mentions, I’m HOPING (fingers crossed) that she said that from a place of love. I don’t know, I read her LENNY weekly and I think her provocative comments are the way she ‘rolls’ and it’s her way of fitting in.

  • phil8

    This seems to be one more outrageous comment by Dunham to stir media interest in her. She is losing credibility…

  • MK

    whether LD meant to harm anyone with (what she calls) a “distasteful joke” is unimportant. i would argue that jokes about abortion are on par with rape jokes in terms of repulsiveness. i also don’t think it’s useful or helpful to try and determine what she really meant by her statement because ultimately we can’t ever know.

    you don’t have to try on someone’s shoes in order to understand their journey and you certainly don’t have to understand someone’s journey in order to empathize or have compassion, which is what makes it just the opposite of narcissism– it requires getting outside of yourself and making connections with people. my brother died suddenly (at age 28) six months ago and i have felt just as much compassion/love/support from some of my friends who have never lost a sibling (or don’t have a sibling) as my friends who have dealt with sibling loss. interestingly enough, the people i considered my “close” friends who have sort of jumped ship since my brother’s death *are* more narcissistic because *they* are uncomfortable with *my* grief, as if it’s somehow about them. u feel me?

    • Nico

      I agree. The empathy = narcissism comment didn’t sit well with me either.

      More importantly, so sorry for the loss of your brother.

      • MK

        thank you kind stranger!

        • Leandra Medine

          Ugh, I’m sorry for the loss of your brother too, MK. How are you doing?

          • MK

            thank you, Leandra. i’m holding up as best as i can, but some days are harder than others. he was my only sibling and i miss him dearly.
            I was so sorry to hear about the loss of your baby– i hope and pray that you feel comforted by those around you (both physically and virtually) and, god willing, that you become a mother.

  • I think we should all make the agreement to stop putting people on a pedestal and them tearing them down when they disappoint us. If we all had thoughtful things to say about peoples problematic behaviour (like you did), the internet would be a nicer place to be.

  • Emma Gabrielle

    The fact that she meant no harm literally means nothing. Lena Dunham has repeatedly said and done offensive things and her “apologies” are always just as if not more offensive than the thing’s she apologized for. Her failure to educate herself and her inability to see outside of her own experience are serious blemishes on her ability to be a public figure, and quite frankly, we should no longer allow her to be one. I think this election made it pretty clear that we can no longer trust the “intentions” of white people and this is a prime example. I’m pretty sick of the media circus around this privileged, clumsy mouthed woman. Man Repeller, you have acknowledged diversity issues within your own company before. At least stop parading such blatant patrons of ignorant, white feminism as well.

  • Alicia

    Lena Dunham is a narcissist. While no one is perfect and we’ve all spoken out of turn, this is one time too many and a lot too insensitive/offensive. I once watched her jntereupt Tracee Ellis Ross during a round-table interview to say that her mom was “like the white Diana Ross”. I was done with her then.

    • Alicia

      Correction: Jewish Diana Ross

  • kim

    I take a completely different view on this. Although Lena did undermine Women whom aborts- pain, she is considering whole heartedly what it feels like to make the decision to abort in the first place. Wanting to know and feel the pain of others is in no way or form a crime or even wrong. What she has said is within and fully the definition of Empathy. It may be the white privilege talking here but I would say she is brave enough for doing so. We say you should walk in the shoes of another to fully understand what someone is going through, so tell me what is wrong with saying you want to feel what it is like to abort, or to of wished you could have? I have heard worse said, I have seen women getting abortions been hit on the streets of Belfast for doing so, so why when Lena Dunham decides to chime up about and make it a public norm, why is there an uproar- An abortion is lawfully moral, so why is it seen as immoral to want to know what one feels like- compassion or no compassion. Tell me how many pro-lifers would stand and actually want to feel what those women feel like while they make those tough decisions.

  • This entire comments thread has shown me the deep rooted problem with overcoming the prejudices and oppression so many people in society (women, non-white people, members of the LGBTQIA community, etc) face. I’m just genuinely astounded by how this group of incredibly intelligent and informed women (the MR commenters) somehow think that LD is not deserving of pure and absolute reprimand.

    Somehow, we have come to believe that “it’s the thought that counts.” Um… No. That’s for gift-giving, not empathizing with the plight of oppressed and underprivileged persons. You cannot refuse to reprimand or find fault in someone because his/her intentions were not ill-willed. Here’s a tired example: “you’re pretty for a black girl!” Obviously you’re intentions are to compliment this women so it’s not racist because there’s no ill-will, right?! Wrong. How about this one: “I just love Native American culture and think it’s so beautiful. It’s appreciation ~not~ appropriation.” Native American culture is so beautiful, right? And I didn’t intend to be offensive when wearing it at coachella, so I what I did isn’t actually wrong, right?! Wrong again.

    Let’s not mention the multitudes of times she’s made overwhelmingly privileged comments like this one and stared at the public with giant puppy dog eyes as if she couldn’t possibly imagine why what she did/said was wrong. This as a stand alone comment is distasteful at best. Her intentions are almost entirely irrelevant. Ignorance does NOT excuse ANYONE from being held completely accountable for the words that come out of their mouth.

    • THIS x 1000! I really want to know who else gets this many rounds of benefit of the doubt 😐

  • Bystander

    Lena Dunham has multiple issues, including not thinking faster than she talks.

  • the back of yo head

    I said this in a thread but it bears repeating for the myriad sites that air this woman’s bullshit as if it comes straight off the Mount: she is an admitted (in an AUTOBIOGRAPHY, likely run past several editors) sexual predator, who repeatedly coerced her younger sister into assault while she was a minor. I fucking challenge one of you to come at me with a “it was merely X EXCUSE” such as exaggeration, dramatics, a foolish prank *everybody does* to their siblings, and not disgusting, precisely-Trump level braggartry. And now I remember why MR is not in my bookmarks.

    Woody Allen gave plenty of red flags himself well before his biological and adoptive family made him known as a rapist, but there is this preposterous leeway we allow for this filth to prosper. In fact their filth is often the way they make it. Twice this year she slides on her ass (first being appalled that a hot young actor would not take a look at her) and everyone hastens to give her succor like “I “know” it came from a good place.” Nobody’s ever given me any such advantages. Dunham is a piece of shit. And I mean it from the worst place. Take this down.

  • Abigail Christina

    I’m am glad to see that so many intelligent women are finding strength to stand out against this comment. I was immediately turned off by LD just from her “unblemished” comment alone. I understand that the uproar is in regard to her blatant DISregard for those women who have suffered (or succeeded) in the realm of abortion.

    One important thing to note in my personal view is that abortion is so absolutely individual that even woman next to woman in an abortion clinic there is NO way for you to understand the amount of emotion, background and honest to goodness physical pain that the woman next to you is experiencing. And yea, sometimes there’s relief. And no one gets to tell you how to feel. That’s the whole part of choice right? It’s your body, your heart. She does not derseve a modicum of leeway in this world. She was not being empathetic.

    My partner lost his mother a couple years ago. My heart breaks for him in ways I can’t explain. I stand with him. I love him. My family loves him. I don’t understand. I don’t get it. And I don’t wish it on myself either. If I could take all his pain I would, but I can’t, and I would never tell him that I wish it was me. Because what the fuck does that do but hurt us both?

    He has never felt the pain of making a choice to do something that STILL in 2016 makes you feel like you have to live in the shadows for. That you have to wear big sunglasses to the office and hide the expenses for the medical bills on a forgotten (paid off) credit card. He would NEVER say he understands. Just like Lena, he doesn’t get it. She doesn’t get it.

    I want to thank you MR for making it easy to talk about something so hard. I hate tearing down another woman, I try very hard to honor and support all women, but for someone that prides herself as being strong and intelligent, she sure did something weak and, honestly, dumb.

  • scotthouston

    I think too many people give a crap about some nobody named Lena Dungham! Just another retard that more retarded people keep track of for some reason! What has she ever done to help humanity? Hmmmm?

  • Jaye

    Take a bath. So dirty looking all the time. BTW ..who cut your hair ?

  • c spiers (Stylerevival)

    In this new Trump universe where a man who sexually assaults people can run a country, Lena deserves her comments to be given the benefit of the doubt. Compassion is going to be in short enough supply for women as it is.

  • Lulu

    I think oftentimes we feel that we need to “experience” in order to be “genuine”, which at times is completely understandable but isn’t always necessary. Compassion is what connects us. And no matter how similar our situations or circumstances may be; our response will always be different from person to person.

  • This was verbalized to perfection, thank you for your interesting perspective on empathy especially in such a prominent/ everlasting discussion for all women of the world.

  • Ciccollina

    “The problem with empathy, however, is that it is a uniquely narcissistic emotion.”

    Leandra, I have a huge problem with this statement. I am really shocked by it, actually. Perhaps in your world you try to understand someone in order to tell them that you understand them, but that is not empathy. Empathy is internal, it’s listening in silence, or waylaying judgement, or allowing yourself to feel sad for someone. These are supposed to be human emotions, and really should not be narcissistic at all. It makes me sad that you are so detached from real empathy that you think of it this way.

    I think that Lena Dunham is one of those people who is so ashamed of her privilege that she almost tries to become more of a “minority”, which is why she’s always saying ridiculous things like this. As someone who is prone to forgive almost every transgression, even of those who I hate, I found this statement very distasteful. I’ve had an abortion and even though I am as fine with it as I possibly could be….no, Lena. You don’t want to have an abortion.

  • Christine

    Abortion is not a joke, and it’s not something you get together with the girls to do after a few beers, like matching tatoos. It’s the end of a possibility; of someone who might have been. The world has been altered, and Dunham isn’t thinking clearly.