Lena Dunham’s memoir, Not that Kind of Girl was published at the end of September, and in the last two days, the internet has basically exploded around its contents. Dunham’s narration of her sexual behavior towards her younger sister, Grace, has resulted in many demanding that Planned Parenthood “#dropdunham” as its celebrity spokesperson. And then there’s the notable fissure that Dunham’s very presence has caused in feminist communities: Is she a sexual predator hiding behind quirk and white privilege? Is Grace Dunham, actress, poet and a supporter of her sister’s work (she’s traveling with Lena on her book tour a victim of sexual abuse, in spite of the fact that she doesn’t identify herself as one? Is everyone defending Dunham against the accusation that she’s a predator a child abuse apologist?
In response to the chaos, Nona Willis Aronowitz and Collier Meyerson created Those Kinds of Girls, a Tumblr where women can post stories of childhood sexual experiences – “strange shit” they did, or that was done to them, when experimentation was everything and boundaries were not yet a thing they, and their peers, were cognizant of. I talked to Willis Aronowitz, the newest editor at Talking Points Memo, and Meyerson, a web producer at All in With Chris Hayes, about the motivation behind the Tumblr, policing women’s experiences, and the stories we’re afraid to tell. Keep reading »
Last week, I was in a conversation on Facebook in which I admitted to not liking kids. (My comment: “Real talk: I don’t actually like babies, actually, or children.”) I thought about taking it down as soon as I posted it. An hour later, I was still thinking about taking it down. No one paid much attention to the comment; it’s not really a secret among my friends that I feel this way, although one friend wrote “Yikes,” which I’m still not sure how to respond to. Nevertheless, I felt like I had crossed some serious line. I post everything I write — mostly personal essays that connect to my political beliefs — on social media. As such, this status is definitely not the first time I’ve insulted someone with my beliefs. Yet affirming my dislike of children on Facebook seemed like a whole new level of evil.
But still, I didn’t take the status down. Keep reading »
There are two main versions of my name story. The first is the one I like telling, which is that I was named after my grandmother’s best friend, Charlotte. It doesn’t make any sense, I know. But it’s better — although I suspect less accurate — than the second version, which is that my mother was reading a magazine while sitting on the toilet (apparently this was an important detail), and came across an ad for Chanel perfume. Hence, a difficultly-named troublemaker was born.
I hate my name. Okay, that’s not fair. I have a complicated relationship with my name. For a long time, I just wanted to be named Jen, or Rebecca, or anything but Chanel. (I’m an only child, so there’s no one to compare names with, no sibling with an equally complicated name.) Teachers went into a full-on, sweaty panic when they saw my full name, and kids seized upon me with gleeful cruelty, creating every permutation you can think of and referring to me as such. Recently, when I was signing into the apartment building where I was cat sitting, the doorman informed me that my name was “not spelled that way.” Keep reading »