Monday, November 3, 2014

Doing What I Have To, I Guess

“You do what you have to do,” she said.
Well, I guess I’m doing it.

I have never been a fan of Lena Dunham. Her show never struck me as particularly unique or relevant, and her overall commentary smacked more as something conspicuously contrived than insightful. I found her book, Not That Kind of Girl, to betray vapid narcissism through its nonchalant rhetoric to which the author doesn’t appear to grasp the gravity of her assertions—and yet somehow, I doubt Dunham could’ve anticipated her current backlash despite how vehemently she purports to maintain her convictions.

Pretty much anybody with an internet connection or social media is well aware of what backlash I’m referring to and if not, there’s always Google. I honestly don’t want to reiterate the repugnant narrative. Instead, I want to draw focus to the reactionary apologism and complacency to which I say, “What the actual fuck?”

Fervent supporters—whether or not they’ve actually read the book—have justified Dunham’s account and present temperament. Between hastening my pace to meet deadlines and revisions, I found a wide range of excuses fans engaged to indulge Dunham’s antics. From writing her eerie expose as innocuous, allegorical, metaphorical, or indulging the pseudo-empirical in alleging this was normal childhood behavior: this isn’t the kind of apologia covered by a facepalm.

The most memorable had to have been my exchange with Clementine Ford, an apparently well-known (if not, avidly followed) journalist from Melbourne who writes for Daily Life Australia. As she proceeded to accuse me of “witch burning” because of my contentions, Ms. Ford seemed more inclined to assert her entitlement to preference than respect or ethics. The clincher: I told her I was a survivor of sexual assault and the ensuing exchange didn’t surprise me. From the frigid faux apology to the routine gaslighting, discrediting the merit of my contentions through some implicit ideation that I wasn’t of sound mind or objective, all the way to her expletives and profanities that culminated in a somewhat comical conclusion: “Enjoy your witch burning.”

Given the evident disconcertion Ms. Ford articulated in initial comments likening her as an apologist, I have to wonder if she’s more of a Stan than somebody whose undergone some serious cognitive dissonance. Honestly, I was surprised she engaged me to such a point considering who she was—a journalist of whom has cultivated a résumé and following over 20k—and who I am, a fledgling writer and overworked graduate student who seldom graced Twitter. Her confidence, her haughty hubris, was what unnerved me. I suppose her attitude and twitted tirade could be chalked up as a lack of ethics or prospective insight—or do things just work differently in her world, a flurry of festivities and fixtures pushing their invaluable two cents in the public and published domain? Is that attitude something to be proud of and publicized—and is it under the consideration of your employer(s)?

Apparently, it is.

Moreover, is this what Daily Life stands behind: the festicious shaming of survivors and crude convictions decrying their contentions? Perhaps Ms. Ford was fated to indulge me as I find myself inspired to write more into this, my experience, and the palatable parsimony disseminated by people whom we associate with journalistic ethics. A gander at Ford’s tweets indicate a cross between some eroticized existentialism and sanctimonious self-concept as she articulates an indignation to Dunham’s critics through drawing upon her own experiences, also claiming to have masturbated in proximity to a sibling and bribing a boy to show her his genitals…and I really doubt than any amount of rationale could adequately strike down this unapologetic confessional she relates as totes cool (seriously, check out her Twitter feed; too much disclosure to screencap).

In any case, Ford’s behavior contains a number of fairly obvious flags. Another gander sees her engage yet another victim of sexual assault with whom she has more gall to gaslight. You know, her obscene simplicity did strike some chords of sense as she grasped the basic idea of basic disagreement—but she ultimately cops out of engaging by chalking up disparities as wholly interpretative. She never speaks to what understanding she takes away from the book overall, from the particular section that’s gone viral, or why she gleans such resonance from Dunham’s disposition. Instead, she opts to gaslight and scoff with her fundamental ideology founded in facile arguments—and for what it’s worth, I find her treatment of victimhood shitty to say the least. She dangles an emphatic prospect in thinly, tackily veiled statements alleging I don’t know her story—which is again, not surprising. This is typical for people collating their adversities when they’re confronted with the realities that prove less to inspire solidarity or understanding and more of a conscientious site of conflict to which they seek to detract from in favor of asserting their credibility, their sensibility, and their entitlement to ascribe their ideals as well as privileged paradigms to marginalized space.

And, that’s bloody disgusting.

It’s been said before (notably, by Mikki Kendall; to whom I thank for her inspiration as she always has and continues to stand her ground: solidarity!) that Dunham’s debacle parallels that of the infamous Hugo Schywzer, a former figure heralded in predominantly white feminist spaces wherein contentions were only taken seriously after…well, you know the story, right? But despite this isn’t Dunham’s Hugo moment: apparently her recount devoid of any scruples whatsoever isn’t enough to turn people off her following. Certainly not Ford.         

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