7 Best Lena Dunham Quotes From Her Variety Power Of Women Speech
Lena Dunham has been an interesting figure both in pop culture and feminism for the past several years. With the creation of GIRLS, she entered the celebrity sphere with a bang, and immediately became the subjects of intense praise, as well as intense scrutiny. And while her politics may not always been aligned with mine or yours at all times, there's no doubt that Dunham has enabled a greater dialogue about issues such as race, class, and sexuality, among others. She is an unabashed feminist, an outspoken activist for young girls and an illustrator of their lives, and for that, she deserves our attention at the very least. After her emotional speech at Variety's Power of Women NY event held Friday, I'd say she's got it.
Attending the event to accept an award for her work with the Girls Educational & Mentoring Service, Dunham used her time at the mike to discuss her experience with sexual assault and the continued importance feminism has in our society. It was thought-provoking, moving, and completely honest, as only she could offer, and I think everyone could benefit from hearing what she has to say.
Here were the 7 most important quotes from Dunham's Power of Women speech.
"It will surprise nobody in this room to know that I am a feminist."
Calling oneself a feminist isn't necessarily groundbreaking in and of itself. What's important is that Dunham chose this as the very first sentence of her speech, solidifying feminism as a central part of her identity and belief system, which is pretty powerful, I'd say.
"There is no such thing as a perfect feminist, and I am no exception."
Keep dropping those truth bombs, girl, because you've hit the nail on the head. There is no one way to be a feminist, and there is no feminist out there that says and does the "right" thing 100 percent of the time. What even IS the right thing, half the time? I don't know, so I'm glad she admitted she doesn't, either.
"Here's the tricky thing about language: It lies about how powerful it is."
Language is incredibly powerful. It can uplift and inspire, it can create change, and it can also belittle and demean people and make them feel like scum on the bottom of a shoe. It can set movements back decades. It can do so much, and I wish more people paid attention to that.
"When I was raped, 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."
We already know that most rape victims don't ever report their assaults, but hopefully that number will go down the more we talk about it. Dunham has been open about her own rape for a while now, but to once again hear her speak so bravely about it is not only moving, but also incredibly important for others who might find themselves in her place.
"As a feminist and 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."
If there's one thing women need in this world, it's support in the form of advocacy from people with more of a platform and agency than we might have ourselves. I admire Dunham's honesty about an experience which must continue to be a struggle to process and move past, and I think it will definitely help others.
"Trauma can make us narcissistic and myopic, turning us inward as we struggle with what we have seen, felt and repressed."
There is still, in 2015, I think a huge lack of understanding of just how deeply trauma can affect the human psyche. It's yet another area in desperate need of further research, and not only that, but also of open and frank discussions about the issue and support for those who need it most. Dunham's point — that trauma can turn us into people we don't recognize — is something worth remembering.
"I am grateful every day for the gifts I've been given, particularly the gift of a voice and of people willing to hear it."
We're grateful Dunham continues to share her voice, too.
Watch Lena Dunham's full speech at Variety's Power of Women event below: