Monocycle, Episode 60
A Conversation With Lena Dunham
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This week’s episode of Monocycle is more like an episode of Bicycle because there are two stakeholders (wheels?) present in the conversation: myself and Lena Dunham. When I set out to interview her, I had a fairly strong sense of what we might talk about, like the evolution of Lenny Letter, life after Girls, New York vs. Los Angeles. What unfolded was a genuinely organic conversation about life, failing and succeeding and how similar they are, self esteem, family and love. While listening back to this episode, I realized it sounds less like a podcast recording and more like an intimate conversation, which, to me, is really the goal of an interview.

I very much hope you enjoy the structure as we plan to continue rolling out various interviews over the course of the next couple of months.

As always, any and all feedback is welcome, so sock it to me in the comment depository below.

Happy birthday, btw!!! (What? It could be…)

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  • loved this! thanks for bringing your two beautiful minds together for 45 minutes.

  • Mariana

    I get why Lena Dunham is controversial, but I believe that she is misunderstood in general. I really like her (and you, Leandra +2)!

  • Madeline C

    Heart warms listening to two women who adore each other so much that you can almost hear them stumbling trying to get out all the things they love about the other person at once.

  • Néo Bourgeois — Christum

    lena’s jewish therapist leandra, her silly goy problems hahaha

  • Daniel Szilagyi

    Eww Lena…sorry, I think her professional work is great and she’s done some really amazing and creative things but her on a personal level and the things she’s said and done (according to her book and just various on-line things in general) makes me think she’s honestly a narcissistic, self absorbed, horrible person.

    • Jeanie

      I’m still disgusted by the Odell Beckham Jr. thing. She probably does more good when she lets other people speak like in Lenny Letter.

    • eizhowa

      Well, the character she made for herself on Girls kind of makes me think she knows this. So she is at least insightful.

  • J

    This was great! It wasn’t a typical monocycle episode but it was nice to hear an open, honest conversation between these two. Something that really struck a cord with me was hearing about Leandra and Lena comment on their early 20s/30s and the whole conversation about purpose! I can’t get enough of MR, keep on keeping on!

  • Selina

    Lena introduced me to endometriosis around the time I turned 30, a couple years before I was diagnosed with it and was told I’d never conceive naturally. She’ll *always* have hero status for me as an endo advocate. Leandra, your thoughts about the earth rejecting you – “I feel dead inside but I’m still alive” – is straight out of my own inner monologue. I’m afraid I’m psychologically broken in a way that no baby can fix… Not trying to be bleak but this shit is hard. Thank you to you both for your work in endo and infertility awareness. It would have made all the difference for me to hear your message in my early 20s. Teens and college students are so friggin lucky to have you and Lenny and MR!

    • Selina

      I have to add this – I listened to and commented on the interview hours before finding out about the statement by Lena and Jenni Konner. What a colossal fail. It gets harder and harder for me to excuse the fuckup/apology routine now that she’s in her 30s, BUT I still strongly believe that Lena is a force for good, especially when it comes to women’s health advocacy which is no joke. By being outspoken, she is having an impact on my life and the lives of millions of women. Maybe MR can focus their support of her to the areas that are her strengths rather than giving her an open mic.

  • cdawgcoop

    Could barely get into 3 minutes with all of her “like” or “likes.” So bad.

  • Millie Lammoreaux

    I’ve been in the “Lena’s just a narcissist who is trying to be good, leave her alone” camp for a long time. I generally think that she gets more vitriol than necessary because she’s a young-ish woman. But…nah. I can’t anymore with this shit. LENA HAS BEEN CANCELED, Y’ALL.

  • belle

    “Some people are born on third base and go through life thinking they hit a triple.” – Barry Switzer

  • kayleigh__smart

    I love a good in-conversation with…, especially when the two people chatting are already friends (Lena with Ariel Levy, this time on YouTube, is another heartwarming listen). This one was so great. Googling oneself at the airport, too funny.

  • Meemaw

    Lena Dunham has always been an abomination. Abusing her sister, Odell Beckham Jr, defending Murray Miller, Lamby the dog. The list will continue to grow. WTF, Manrepeller.

    • gracesface

      🙁

  • Daisy

    I really enjoyed this episode! I love Lena’s honesty, and the way this conversation naturally rolls out with perfect segways and anecdotes. Your openness makes the world seem smaller, we feel less alone in our daily cruxes, and more able to relate – all with a good dose of humour. Keep up being human-y.

  • Devin McNerney

    As someone who has never written a comment before, even though I read manrepeller on a daily basis, I am deeply hurt and upset that this woman is being given yet another platform to spread her message of fake(white) feminism. This woman is not only a disgrace to the community itself, but contradicts the message and platform that I thought Manrepeller stood for. To shame a woman for coming forward with a rape claim is disgusting. By actively advocating for the accused and not the victim she again proves her point that she will only be an advocate for feminism when it directly benefits her. I accept the fact that obviously, as a young woman, Lena will be given more flack for her actions over the many other men in Hollywood who have also stood by the accused. I hate to say this, but at least those men don’t flip flop on misogyny. They don’t pretend to be the mouthpiece of modern feminism and then contradict themselves. This is also not an isolated incident, as Lena has often used her “feminist” platform to make herself the victim of a non-existent crime. I am willing to bet that victim-shamers like Lena Dunham have directly impacted people in the ManRepeller fan base, and if you feel comfortable, I encourage others who have opinions on Lena Dunham, or my comment, to please add. I would like the people at ManRepeller to think about the full effect of allowing people like this to be present in a community that thrives off of shared respect. With an audience that spans age and gender, the issues of sexual assault and harassment are more vital than ever.

    • Sofia

      I completely agree with you! Lena has had time to have learned from the many mistakes she has made and yet she continues to speak her opinion without really thinking of what she is saying and the consequences of expressing her opinion. Man Repeller wrote an article last year about why we should be acting with more compassion towards her and her mistakes but coddling her is just enabling this behavior. No matter the backlash from her statements she continues to offend and hurt people and therefore should not be given a platform like Man Repeller to continuing doing so.

    • rolaroid

      HEAR, HEAR!!

    • Jam Jam

      Girl at least needs a publicist. I listened to the Janet Mock+Lena interview and there’s an element of ‘people don’t understand your stance on race’ which I thought was interesting and made me think she (Lena) was learning and trying to understand different perspectives. But I’ve heard so much vitriol for Lena lately, it sounds like she won’t be bouncing back…but on the other hand, if she’s popular in her own community (of wealthy, white women), maybe the public perception doesn’t matter as much to her.

      • Kiah Jones

        I decided to listen to Monocycle from its beginning in 2015, and I found myself extremely saddened when I noticed Lena’s episode. To be frank, I haven’t listened since its reveal and I’m now willing myself to get back into listening. I feel outside of Lena’s episode, Monocycle is significant because I really like Leandra and value what she has to offers to modern day (hopefully inter-sectional) feminism in our current political and social climate. Lena on the other hand, is as The New York Post describes “an empty vessel.”

        Leandra’s episode on talking yourself out of an anxiety attack really helped me deal with my own anxiety, but I’m truly hurt and confused as to why Lena was chosen for an episode. This isnt a situation of “being on the same team”, Lena’s comments come from a place of dangerous privilege, discrimination and victim shaming. However, rather than complaining I felt to offer a solution oriented comment. To offer a full perspective on what it means to be confident, respectful and powerful Manrepeller, here are women i feel are better options for future interviews – Amanda Seale, Rupi Kaur, Issa Rae, Lady Gaga, Alex Elle, Rihanna, Maureen Callahan (New York Times – Good riddance to Lena Dunham), Zosia Mamet (Next time someone utters Lena’s name for as a podcast suggestion), Uzo Aduba, Taylor Schilling, Laverne Cox, Gabourey Sidibe, Adele, Alexa Chung, Taraji P. Henson, Leah Daniels-Butler (Casting Director for Empire AND Star, AND The Butler AND PRECIOUS) , Grace Gealey, and Joan Didion.

  • Not sure if the timing on this was an accident or on purpose? (Would be a little gross if it was intentional.) But either way not totally a fan of this woman and the mistakes she continues to make while touting that she stands for all women everywhere. I understand nuance in people and that she must (and does) have good qualities but the extremely large platform she holds has not been used in ways fitting to be considered a role model or thought leader.

    • rolaroid

      How could timing possibly play into it? It will NEVER be the right time to publicly side with the accused, shaming the accuser.

      • Hmm we are agreeing so I’m not sure what your point is, but yes I agree it is never the right time to publicly side with the accused. I meant I wasn’t sure if Man Repeller accidentally or intentionally posted content related to Dunham when she is so predominantly in the news for her horrible actions. That timing is what I was referring to.

        • rolaroid

          Sorry, I admit I didn’t fully understand — I thought you meant Lena Dunham’s timing, and also was ‘just saying’ – not trying to get combative but I totally had that tone! Sorry about that!

          • I see how what I wrote could be confusing too! No worries here. 🙂

          • Cupid Stunt

            Ferris Bueller’s Day Off sucks

  • H

    What?
    I really can’t believe two semi intelligent women could reduce such a powerful medium to such rubbish. Blah blah privilege blah blah self absorption blah blah where the fuck is the social voice? I saved this because I assumed there would be one valuable human truth buried in the haze of ego but nope. Lenny is great but how could a platform of clever women discussing life not be. It is depressing to live in a world where Lena is the epitome of the ‘smart, interesting woman’

  • Hollie Bell

    Thank you for this amazing interview, it was touching, intelligent and genuine and exactly what I needed to hear this morning on my way to work. I look forward to more interviews like this (also the Drew Barrymore one was great too!).

  • Refiloe Mokgele

    Wow this makes me really sad. It’s really infinitely more difficult to defend Manrepeller when some of my friends call it a site for white girls 🙁 Lena’s feminism aligns with problematic white feminism. Her recurring mistakes continue to prove her inability to understand it outside of her personal experience. A black woman was silenced, victim blamed (erased in traditional white feminist fashion). A site that I love and thought was in the business of empowering all women has given Lena another platform while knowing this and I kind of feel betrayed 🙁 Also “sock it to me in comment depository” seems slightly patronizing- almost indicative of knowing problematic nature of this interview but not giving a fuck anyway. Wow I’m so sad about this 🙁

    • sonu

      I came back after a gap of a few months to see this nonsense on the front page. I think its time to accept that this IS a site for “white girls.” I’ll miss Leandra’s zany humor, but what can you do, I think they’ve made their position perfectly clear.

  • Holl

    I understand that you may well have recorded this well before Lena’s current monumental fuck up but by posting it I think you have hurt many of us who read this site & look for it to help us navigate the world. Aurora Perrineau has made a public statement that must have been incredibly difficult to make & one that unfortunately many of us can relate to, and the way you have decided to give a platform to someone who is actively feeding into the difficulties faced by us really hurts. Please reconsider leaving up this work and how you approach future issues like this, none of us are perfect but we all need to take a step back sometimes and ask if we are making the right decision.

  • RJ

    I’ve been lovingly following MR for 4 to 5 years now (check the blog daily, follow the writers on insta etc). During this time there have been several occasions where I’ve come across content that I don’t relate to one bit, especially as a lower income/woman of color/immigrant minority, but I can appreciate it somewhat objectively (or acknowledge another PoV) all the same and move on – and it’s still my favourite blog to recommend to friends in a heartbeat. But not anymore.

    By continuously giving Dunham a platform over and over again – and on occasion making excuses for her behavior – the MR team is showing their cluelessness (and arguably privilege) about truly supporting/understanding intersectional feminism. How many more chances are people going to give her? Please, reevaluate this. Yes, I made an account just to voice this concern and comment for the first time. I especially like the reader community here but feel shy about participating and yet, I wanted to get this off my chest – rather than just unfollow quietly.

    • Adrianna

      My favorite part of the podcast interview was how exhausted they both sounded while discussing the fact that Leandra said “I’m sorry” while asking her housekeeper not to make noise -_-

    • Vey

      WOC are constantly trying to give MR another chance- time to accept that we’re fighting a losing battle sis!

  • rolaroid

    I never understood why MR is so obsessed with Girls and Lena Dunham. There have been a couple of pieces this summer (on Issa Rae and Selena Gomez) that were totally whitewashed. I’m starting to see that indeed, this site is for white women and their feminist. There are far more interesting women (even white) who aren’t completely self-absorbed and self-interested to feature. I’ve been visiting MR a lot less since I’ve accepted that it is essentially a site for white women. There is hardly any POC staff either — the more prominent ones are all white. I can’t anymore. MR, y’all are millennials, please be more woke.

    • Vey

      Thank you!

  • Afrodandy

    Wow, so disappointed to see this featured on MR, but happy to see that I am not the only person who recognizes that Leah’s behavior is straight up trash. I’ve never commented, but I’ve followed for a while, and frequently have to take breaks or risk drowning in the waves of mediocre white feminism that frequently wash over this site. Y’all are better than this, or at least you could be. I know she Leandra’s friend, but damn I am going to need EVERYONE to start holding their problematic friends and family accountable, if they need help, support them but don’t give them a platform or wilfully expose others to them. Anyways MR is about to be cancelled, does anyone have reccs for better sites? I like 21ninety

  • Louise

    I sincerely hope MR is planning on addressing Lena’s recent (and unsurprising) hypocrisy that, when I read her statement, felt enormously casually cruel. Success does not change you, it simple brings out who you really are–and I think this woman has proven countless times that she is mentally ill, or at least incapable of empathy. I encourage everyone to read the statement the former lenny writer Zinzi Clemmons put out. She encourages women–especially women of color–to divest themselves from Lena Dunham. I am a white woman, and we collectively (including the SUPER white MR) need to start listening, and investigating our many blind spots, mainly the financial incentives we have to cherry pick when and why we support women of color and benefit from the patriarchy. The statement Clemmons put out, btw, is a feeling ALL women that are not of a super-connected, financially secure background will relate to. This is not, finally, only a race thing. It is a money thing. Something our country never talks about, or refers to it as “class,” when in fact real class has nothing to do with money. Leandra and Lena are interestingly from extremely similar backgrounds of immense NY privilege and access. Couldn’t get a job after college that you like? Hang out with your parents who live comfortably in the most expensive city in the country and start a blog, no problem. Or write a script. That is not in itself a negative thing, like anything else, it CAN be used for good, but I don’t see that happening. I see a lot of narcissism, and a lack of awareness & compassion.

  • Emily Stark

    I think this is Man Repeller’s way of saying “you’ll always have a place here Lena” and thereby supporting her and her position on a rapist. I think it’s important to use plain speak. Lena supports a rapist.

  • Tom Blyler

    Why are you choosing to give this woman a platform. After the last horrid comment she made, of many I might add, can we all just agree that she is not someone who deserves to be given a platform. She is an ignorant, spoiled, narcissistic, white feminist, who I doubt would be successful without coming from a well know artistic family and the privilege of wealth. Nothing She does is really bettering society or stimulating and conversations that will lead to progress, for anyone but already wealthy white women, and she has shown time and time again she is a problematic, deeply disturbed, and extremely ignorant person. I understand the person leading this podcast has a personal relationship with her , but eventually you should just stop giving problematic people a platform no matter what. I hope Leandra realises how badly associating with her looks for man repeller. I enjoyed reading man repeller as a trans person because it was a platform I saw stimulating both progressive and lighthearted conversation, but its now becoming just another platform for white feminists to discuss their first world problems, and worse , you are giving problematic and honestly, vile people , a platform. Stop it.

  • Bo

    To everyone at ManRepeller. I implore you: please stop giving this disgraceful, insensitive person a platform.

  • Monica M

    I’m so disappointed that MR is choosing to give this woman a platform. It really is a blemish on a wonderful site/community.