On Friday and Saturday, Lena Dunham and “SNL” star Cecily Strong used their time at the podium — at an industry charity luncheon and the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, respectively — to discuss feminist issues.
Dunham appeared at Variety’s Power of Women awards ceremony as an honoree for her work with Girls Educational & Mentoring Services (GEMS), an organization that helps sexually exploited and/or trafficked girls and women develop their full potential. The “Girls” creator spoke of the importance of GEMS’s work and shared her feelings of worthlessness and powerless following her own sexual assault.
“When I was raped,” Dunham said, “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, as 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.”
As the first female comedian to take a turn at the podium at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in six years, Strong delivered a solid, 23-minute stand-up routine. Though her jokes touched on a variety of political topics, Strong put feminism — and her support for Hillary — front and center. Introduced by President Obama, Strong said of herself — as well as of the Democratic frontrunner — “It feels right to have a woman following President Obama, doesn’t it?”
She then took aim at conservatives’ regressive stances regarding women’s reproductive rights, quipping, “Since I’m a comedian, I’m not gonna tell you politicians how to do politics or whatever. That’s not my job. That’d be like you guys telling me what to do with my body. Can you even imagine?” (You will find thatat the 2:32 point.)
Though she took a few swipes at Hillary, too, Strong made the journalists in the audience to “solemnly swear not to talk about Hillary’s appearance because that is not journalism” — and also to report that “Cecily looks great tonight.”