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Dunham has shown us who she is, and white women have continued to support and uplift her as a feminist hero.

by Sherronda J. Brown and Lara Witt This essay contains discussions of sexual violence, including r/pe and molestation Last week, a writer at The Guardian posed what she no doubt thought was a poignant question: “Lena Dunham is a hugely original writer. Who cares if she’s a good person?” Before you ask—yes, she is. See, Martha Gill is deeply invested in protecting a fellow white woman from the consequences of her actions, and she is willing to tell lies about Lena Dunham’s talent, ignore truths about her poor character, and gaslight the people who have and continue to rightfully criticize her and her dangerous white feminism in the process. Just a few days after Martha's contribution, Katie Herzog wrote "The Pleasure of Hating Lena Dunham Is Less About Her And More About Us" for The Stranger. All things considered, it looks a lot like Dunham or someone close to her enlisted white women writers to do proactive damage control ahead of her latest apology in a long, long string of apologies for shitty behavior. Even more frightening than the idea that this might be premeditated apologism on her behalf, is the fact that white women reflexively feel the need to defend Dunham in the first place, because like so many terrible white men artists and literary figures, she is a terrible white woman who makes media that they enjoy. So they stand by her in the name of abusive white feminism, and perhaps like the terrible men, they feel that she too deserves a chance to stand separate from her art, able to continue succeeding while she uses the bones of Black and Brown women as her throne. Gaslighting us, shifting the animus for the criticism of Dunham onto people of color rather than Dunham’s proven record of investment in white supremacy, is easier than interrogating themselves and the white womanhood that connects them. When Aurora Perrineau revealed last year that she had been raped by Murray Miller, Lena Dunham called her a liar. Dunham, who has long used “feminism” as a platform for herself, her voice and her work, issued a statement along with Jenni Konner, co-showrunner and writer of “Girls” stating, “While our first instinct is to listen to every woman's story, our insider knowledge of Murray's situation makes us confident that sadly this accusation is one of the 3 percent of assault cases that are misreported every year. It is a true shame to add to that number, as outside of Hollywood women still struggle to be believed. We stand by Murray and this is all we'll be saying about this issue.” But it's Dunham who was lying. As part of her recent PR run—which comes after the death of her website, the dissolution of her production partnership with Jenni Konner, the very public and controversial resignation of a Lenny Letter writer, and a call for women of color to no longer work with/for her—she has now apologized for this damaging lie one year later. And in classic Lena Dunham form, she centered herself and her own feelings in her apology for a lie that harmed a Black person who was sexually assaulted at 17 years old: “I didn’t have the ‘insider information’ I claimed but rather blind faith in a story that kept slipping and changing and revealed itself to mean nothing at all,” writes Dunham. Aurora Perrineau deserved far better, but women like Dunham are only consistent in perpetuating white supremacy and, in particular, misogynoir.
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White female innocence is predicated upon violence against Black women in which white women are complicit–that is why Sofia Coppola erased a crucial character.

By Sherronda J. Brown This essay contains spoilers and includes discussion of sexual violence. Sofia Coppola’s newest film and remake of The Beguiled sets itself apart from both the 1966 novel and the 1971 original film adaptation in terms of style and tenor, but carries the same themes of solitude and fear. Most significantly, it brazenly disrespects its original source material and the history that it drew from by removing an enslaved Black woman, Hallie, from a narrative about women in the Confederate South during the Civil War. Her reasoning for this erasure is less than convincing, citing a desire to “respect [the] history” and to spare young girls the image of a Black woman in such a degrading position on-screen. However, when looking at the original story, the vision of a resilient and assertive Hallie becomes clear. She has unapologetic disdain for whiteness and refuses a passive victimhood. Sofia Coppola deliberately chose not to show this – not to save us or Hallie from indignity – but to ease her own discomfort around the white subjects of her “girl power” western drama being slave-owning enactors of violent white supremacy. Her version of the tale relies on white female innocence, but white female innocence is predicated upon violence against Black women, in which white women are complicit. The Keeping Room, a 2014 film directed by Daniel Barber and written by Julia Hart, tells a story that is closely related to that of The Beguiled, but far more engrossing and compelling. While it isn't perfect, it gives us an enslaved woman whose character is fully visible in a similarly “revisionist western” that is not ahistorical and, frankly, has better writing, better direction, and better performances.
Related: WORKING WITH WHITE WOMEN IS THE BANE OF MY EXISTENCE

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