Lena Dunham is teaming up with Jenni Konner, her production partner and “Girls” co-showrunner, to launch Lenny, a weekly newsletter for young women. In an interview with Buzzfeed, Dunham described the target audience as “an army of like-minded, intellectually curious women and the people who love them, who want to bring change but also want to know, like, where to buy the best tube top for summer that isn’t going to cost your entire paycheck.”
Dunham revealed that she was inspired to create Lenny after touring the US to promote “Not That Kind of Girl,” her first collection of essays. The reading events gave the writer-director-actress the opportunity to interact with her fan base directly. The discussions that followed, which ranged from swapping beauty tips to political debate (“I literally heard girls being like, ‘How do you keep those pink streaks in your hair?’ … but also ‘Who are you going to vote for?’”), encouraged Dunham to envision a space where each of these conversational threads could be pursued, an online realm for “people who want to talk about radical politics but also want to talk about fashion and also want to talk about Rihanna, and also understand that all of those things can be happening at the same time.”
Lenny’s editor-in-chief, Jessica Grose, describes the project, which will initially be self-funded, as “Rookie‘s Big Sister,” or “Goop meets Grantland.” Contributors will include Dunham’s famous friends — we’d bet money on an upcoming byline by Taylor Swift — and its own staff. Joining Grose will be associate editor Laia Garcia and editor-at-large Doreen St. Felix.
Grose is clear about what Lenny is not — a platform for feminist pissing contests. “The internet feminism conversation can be very circular and limiting and exclusive,” she observed. “It saddens me to see that a lot of the competition is about saying ‘you’re not feminist enough’: trying to kick people out of feminism rather than bring them in. And Lenny is an opportunity to say, ‘There are many different types of feminisms, and we can work together.'”
“With Lenny there’s no such thing as TMI, there’s no such thing as self-involved,” continued Dunham. “We’ll be allowed to show the ugly and complicated thought processes that go into forming your own brand of feminism, and your own identity, because it’s not all clean back here.”
As for Dunham’s own brand of feminism, she believes in recognizing “that part of feminism is giving women the freedom to make choices that you don’t necessarily agree with — without also excusing all female behavior, or announcing that all female behavior is feminist, which is condescending and ridiculous.” The “Tiny Furniture” writer-director is very much on board with “the pop culturization of feminism,” citing the example of Beyonce standing in front of the word feminist at the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards. “How can that hurt us?” she asked.
The newsletter will eventually become a website-letter hybrid, but it won’t include a comments section. This decision is likely an attempt to limit the number of trolls and hateful comments.
Lenny launches September 2015. The Season 5 premiere date of “Girls” hasn’t been announced yet.