It’s nearly impossible to go on certain parts of the internet without seeing article after article, day after day about Lena Dunham or her HBO series “Girls.” The show has sparked a lot of discussion and controversy; sometimes Dunham responds and sometimes she does not.
A season two episode titled “On All Fours” was particularly provocative. During the episode, Adam Driver, an emotionally erratic alcoholic, may or may not rape a character called Natalia. Some viewers and critics thought what he did was definitely non-consensual (and therefore rape), but others did not.
Finally, months after the season closed, Dunham addressed the issue in an interview with the Los Angeles Times:
“Did what Adam do constitute rape? That’s hard for me to answer. I’m a rabid feminist. and no woman should ever be placed in a sexual situation that leaves her feeling degraded or compromised. That’s not what sex is supposed to feel like … But I don’t think Adam is a villain. If he thought he had even touched the R-word, he would be unable to live. To me, it seemed like a terrible mis-communication between two people who didn’t know what they really wanted.”
I agree with her that it seemed like more of a sexual mis-communication than a rape.
So Dunham addressed the scene, albeit gingerly; it’s edging on unfair how often Dunham is put on trial and forced to answer for phenomena and situations beyond her control. She’s pressured to be responsible and progressive and sensitive constantly, even if it would mean compromising her show.
What I want to put her on trial for here, though, is referring to herself as a “rabid feminist.” There are better words for what you want to say. I would have preferred ‘staunch,’ ‘ardent’ or ‘passionate.’ Feminism is not at all like rabies; it is not spread through vermin and you will not froth at the mouth for caring. If you have caught a case of the feminisms, you will not be taken out back and shot like a rabid dog, but you might be called a bitch.