Watch Lena Dunham Talk About Feminism and Sexual Assault

News. Posted 3 years ago

Catalogue Staff

Lena Dunham received an award, for her work with GEMS (Girls Education and Mentoring Service) at Variety’s annual Power of Women, and she used her acceptance speech as an opportunity to discuss reproductive rights, sexual assault and the power that language has to frame these issues.

She opened by describing herself as an imperfect feminist, “I always tell people — particularly angry internet commentators — that there is no such thing as a perfect feminist, and I am no exception”, before admitting she’s uttered phrases like “sup, slut”, and lip-synced phrases like “Annie’s 12 years old and two more she’ll be a whore.” This was all in aid of the overall message of her speech: that the language we use to describe women is powerful, and we need to be super careful with it: “Here’s the tricky thing about language — it lies about how powerful it is. When I used those words, I felt subversive, naughty, strong. I did not realize how these songs and words were not ways for me to reclaim my feminine power — in fact, they’ve silenced and shamed the women they purported to describe and reduce them to objects, or worse, punch lines. They celebrated the exploiters, and hid the exploited.”

Perhaps the most powerful part of the speech, however, was when she opened up about being raped. “When I was raped I felt powerless. I felt my value had been determined by someone else, someone who sent me the message that my body was not my own, and my choices were meaningless. It took years to recognize my personal worth was not tied to my assault; the voices telling me I deserved this were phantoms; they were liars. So as a feminist, and a sexual assault survivor, my ultimate goal is to use my experience, my platform, and yes, my privilege, to reverse stigma and give voice to other survivors. […] Connecting with other survivors reopens our world. Instead of scrambling for power by silencing other women, we’re able to mutually strengthen each other through collaboration and support.”

Watch Lena Dunham’s full speech below.


This follows Dunham’s recent column for US Vogue, in which she describes her pro-choice stance on reproductive rights for women, and how said stance is down to what her mother taught her while she was growing up.

Via Cosmopolitan UK

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