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Lena Dunham’s Feminist Week: From SNL to SXSW

Lena Dunham's Feminist Week: From SNL to SXSW

Girls‘ fictional protagonist Hannah Horvath proclaimed she was “the voice of my generation” in a fit of self-delusion and opium tea, but her creator Lena Dunham is proving she has a lot of important and relevant things to say — and more importantly, the guts to say them. 

Dunham hosted Saturday Night Live this past weekend, in which she appeared in (and thus tacitly approved of) a skit mocking “men’s rights” activists. The segment wasn’t particularly great or funny — it was perhaps more wish-fulfillment fantasy than a comedy sketch, since there’s no way a men’s righter could ever possess enough shame or self-awareness like the character in the bit — but Dunham and her co-stars Mike O’Brien and Cecily Strong took the opportunity to parody “activists” who fight for unequal pay for equal work. 

A few days later, Dunham gave the keynote address at South by Southwest, where she touched on the Hollywood sexism that made Adam Driver, the sole male core cast member on Girls, the show’s first breakout star. 

Indiewire provides a partial transcript of Dunham’s speech

“It’s a rough scene,” Dunham said about the current state of women in entertainment. “It’s hard to always offer comforting words on that topic. I think about this in relation to the cast on my show, which consists of three very talented women and also some very talented guys. Our male lead, Adam Driver, has had a bang-up year in movies which could not be more deserved because he’s a ferocious genius with an incredible work ethic, and I’ve learned so much from him. But the girls are still waiting patiently for parts that are going to honor their intelligence and their ability. 

“Women are typecast and men can play villains, Lotharios and nerds in one calendar year. The world is ready to see Adam as a million different men — playing good guys and bad guys and sweet guys and scary guys. The world is ready to see Adam do all that. It’s not ready to see Allison Williams, Zosia Mamet or Jemima Kirke stretch their legs in the same variety of diverse roles. Allison is relegated to All-American sweetheart. Zosia is asked to play more flighty nood-nicks. Even though both are capable of so much, they’re not asked to do it. And this is not a knock on Adam’s talent, which is utterly boundless and he’s exactly the actor who should be doing all this. It’s a knock on a world where women are typecast and men can play villains, Lotharios and nerds in one calendar year and something has to change and I’m trying.”

After admitting “there isn’t a place right now for me in studio-funded movies” and revealing that she funded her early movies by maxing out her credit card and borrowing money from her parents and her best friend’s parents, Dunham offered some heartfelt advice for her fellow women in Hollywood: “Don’t wait around for someone else to tell your story. Do it yourself by whatever means necessary.”

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