Thursday, February 26, 2015

Not that kind of girl: Lena Dunham tells you what she's "learned"

Feminist lit seems to be topping the best of 2014 lists. Among the books to hit the shelves in 2014 was Not that Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham. Dunham modeled the book after Helen Gurley Brown’s book, Having it All—more in construction than message. Dunham leans a bit more to the feminist, coming-of-age bent than Brown did. I am not a diehard Lena Dunham fan, I have not watched Girls, and I generally have not enjoyed anything I’ve see her act in. However, she’s making news and is splashed across at least one major magazine cover every month. I am a fan of feminist lit, as this is touted, and I enjoy memoirs.

My perception of Dunham did not change much. She’s a rather whiny, over privileged girl from Soho. However, she disclosed in her book that she became aware of these things as she aged and tried to put things in perspective. According to her, not even the offspring of well-known artists have it easy when trying to break into the entertainment industry. Alongside the normal coming of age issues like flagging motivation and low self-esteem, Dunham has had to face sexism and age discrimination. Yes, women are still not treated fairly in the workplace (Patricia Arquette might have mentioned this recently, too.). Perhaps my favorite part of the book is Dunham’s proclamation that she will name names of the men who treated her poorly when she made it to Hollywood. She’s polite enough to wait until he’ll more than likely be dead and her career will be rock solid, but she will be telling all. I can't wait.
Lena Dunham’s book is great. A good solid read that sheds light on a new icon. If you've read other recent memoirs by female television or movie stars, such as Bossypants by Tina Fey or Yes, Please! by Amy Poehler, this would be a safe bet for your next read. Keep in mind, young women are tongue in cheek these days so don’t come expecting a lovely story about a chaste and well-mannered young woman. Life is messy and these women don’t sugar coat it. Young women, all women, should read their books and be proud of the advancements made, but also be aware  of what it took to get here and how much further we have to go.
And, just for another shameless plug, don't forget Caitlin Moran in your list of feminist reads. I recently read and reviewed How to Build a Girl, but if you're feeling particularly angsty, you should check out How to be a Woman, also by Moran.

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