Lena Dunham Interviewed Hillary Clinton And It Was The Feminist Smorgasbord You'd Always Dreamed About
For the first installation of Lenny, the feminist newsletter from Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner, Lena Dunham sat down with Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton (of whom she is an admitted admirer). The newsletter hit the inboxes of subscribers on Monday where they were able to the lengthy interview with Clinton, where the two discussed Wellesley, "sliming" (yes, sliming), marriage, and of course, politics. Dunham's interview with Clinton has a very approachable tone (which is good news for Clinton, who has been implementing strategies to repair some of her public image issues and appear more open and down-to-earth, particularly with the press), as Clinton discussed aspects of her personal life as well as her take on feminism.
Clinton gave a thorough response to questioning about college and university experiences, as well as the difficult financial position new and recent college graduates find themselves grappling with. It was here especially that Clinton appeared to be hoping to strike the down-to-earth notes that voters wants to see from her. Discussing her humble first jobs and her first forays into politics, Clinton revealed that funky salmon got her geared up about social justice as a young woman. Who knew? To illustrate the tone of the interview and perhaps more importantly, Clinton's intentions with the interview and how it plays into her campaigning strategies, here are some of the most interesting quotes from her sit down with Dunham.
On Forming New Political Views
I think that's part of what your late teens and 20s are all about. You have to decide what you really believe. You can certainly carry with you some of the values that you've inherited, but you have to make them your own or you have to add or subtract from them. And that's what I did.
I don't trust anybody who says that they didn't have some questions in their 20s. That's a period of such exploration and often torment in people's lives.
Clinton was a "Goldwater girl" in her later teen years, then started to veer much further to the left when she went to college at Wellesley.
On Marrying President Clinton
I was terrified about losing my identity and getting lost in the wake of Bill's force-of-nature personality. I actually turned him down twice when he asked me to marry him. ... That was a large part of the ambivalence and the worry that I wouldn't necessarily know who I was or what I could do if I got married to someone who was going to chart a path that he was incredibly clear about. My ideas were much more inchoate. I wasn't sure how to best harness my energies. And so I was searching.
This strikes me as a sentiment that many people who are engaged or married can relate to, particularly women. It strikes me as a vulnerable and honest anecdote.
One of Clinton's first jobs was working as a salmon-packer, which was evidently also called "sliming." She discussed how this job ended:
I noticed that some of them didn't look really healthy to me. So I raised it with the guy who was running the plant. He said, "What do you care? They're gonna be shipped overseas! Nobody in America's gonna eat them." I said, "Well, I don't think that's right. We shouldn't be sending salmon that's gonna make anybody sick." He said, "Oh, just don't worry about it." Anyway, I go home that night, I go back the next day, and the whole operation has disappeared. So I didn't get paid for that work. But it was called "sliming." That's what I started off doing.
On Student Loan Debt
I had a woman in Iowa the other day, 12 percent she's paying on her loans. I want to just compress those. Drop those. I want to get more young people with debt into programs where they pay a percentage of their income as opposed to a flat rate. That will make it a lot easier to save some money and not be so stretched all the time.
Lenny is targeted primarily to women in their 20's, many of whom may be crushed under out of control student loan debt. Though, the plan Clinton discussed in brief in this interview sounds an awful lot like income-based repayment programs that already exist for federal student loans. What else does Clinton have in mind for this problem?
I'm always a little bit puzzled when any woman, of whatever age but particularly a young woman, says something like, "Well, I believe in equal rights, but I'm not a feminist." Well, a feminist is by definition someone who believes in equal rights! I'm hoping that people will not be afraid to say — that doesn't mean you hate men. It doesn't mean that you want to separate out the world so that you're not part of ordinary life.
*nods head fervently*