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It’s time to unsubscribe from Lena and Amy (and start hate-reading Gwyneth again)

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There may be a significant minority of readers who consume works they are likely to despise. If there is not, then we must explain both why the term “hate-reading” is in popular use and why Andrew Bolt maintains a career. Or, for that matter, why I do. Or, why so many of us maintained such a long fascination with Gwyneth Paltrow’s GOOP, a newsletter aimed at a fictional wellness idiot so gullible and rich, she might be tempted to steam-clean her vagina. Steam-clean her vagina. Gwyneth, publisher of a recipe for a daily breakfast drink that contains an ingredient called “Moon Juice Sex Dust” and costs somewhere between $10.52 and $200 per homemade serve, is really only good for one thing: the hilarious reminder that incredible privilege rarely brings forth its equivalent in wisdom.

As many adoring hate-readers of GOOP did, I enjoyed the woman’s Marie Antoinette resolve. No matter how often Gwyneth was reminded that women of even the western world could not afford to bathe in the alpaca semen she was selling, she failed to see the point. She traded aspiration as freely as she did organic lube and, fuck, it was the funniest thing. And this funny thing, launched in September 2008, the very month Lehman Brothers collapsed and worldwide economic consensus had it that we were in the biggest economic toilet since 1929, got even funnier. As an estimated 5 million US citizens were forced to foreclose on their homes, Gwyneth continued to prescribe a diet rich in organic money. Her Let Them Eat Kale decree now serves only those who have the wages of the finance sector. Us 99 percenters who weren’t bailed out chose to Occupy Gwyneth by laughing at her.

It’s fun to laugh at blind privilege. It’s even a little bit useful. GOOP became such a stark illustration of the unsustainable consumer aspiration actively courted by the 1%, it was instructive. Just as Citibank ran an ad campaign that persuaded consumers to “live richly”—i.e. well beyond their means—mortgage providers actively sought out targets for what it called at the time Ninja loans. This acronym— No Income No Job No Assets—was in wide use on Wall Street well before the financial collapse. These guys clearly knew that their practices defied the most basic principles of lending—and despite what The Big Short tells you, there was more than one economist sounding the alarm on these criminals. After the GFC—or, rather, in the middle of what will be studied in the future as an even greater depression—GOOP is particularly funny.

There are few people who read GOOP for anything more than a chuckle or a candid look at the empty brain of a rich and magnificent twit failing to see that this is a poor and terrible time. We don’t read it to be “inspired” but to have our envy or our rage activated, like almonds! GOOP is now a relic of a “live richly” era wherein homes to store our Moon Juice Sex Dust were not well beyond our reach. We can laugh at it because it’s old-fashioned; it’s part of that women’s magazine tradition of invented problems that sell invented solutions.

Ideology is always easier to make out when it gets a little old. You can look at a Women’s Weekly from the 1970s and giggle at instructions on how to make casserole and style one’s hair for hubby in a single afternoon. You can look at GOOP and see it as an artefact from an avaricious past; a corporate-sponsored recent past that produced the poverty of the present. These are easy “hate-reads”; they are documents that tell us a little about the worst of the time that produced them. It’s fun and it’s kind of easy to do this archaeology of women’s media. But, if one wants a little living anthropology, perhaps the question to ask ourselves is: what will women be hate-reading in the future?

Regular readers will be unsurprised to learn my answer: The Lenny Letter. Irregular readers can just consider this post a “hate-read”, I guess. Or, they could consider we’ll all be laughing, GOOP-style, at Dunham in the very near future. I encourage you, again, to get in early and not see Dunham as simply “problematic” or imperfect, but as a neo-conservative ideologue.

After Lenny’s dreaditorial on the importance of “self-care”/how every sassy item of clothing a gal buys for herself is an act of revolution, I was not alone in detecting bass notes of neo-conservatism. Actually, last week a US neo-conservative website wrote a piece urging The Conservative Case for Lena Dunham. Too right. The woman is a rampant individualist who considers shopping for cute outfits the utmost dissent. Live richly. She supports the neo-conservative Hillary Clinton, is opposed to the decriminalisation of sex work and bangs on, like Oprah before her, about the need to follow one’s dreams.

When you sell the lie of upward mobility, recast shopping as liberation and pose for photographs regularly at elite social events with Taylor Swift, you’re a model conservative. This behaviour, especially when it is so routine, does not disturb dominant order, but preserves it. If you’re only defending the “rights” of “relatable” “babes”, such as Taylor, yourself and people who think your homemade tattoos are awesome, you’re as progressive as copper wire. Social justice a bit like the National Broadband Network: it only works if you extend the big pipe of liberty to everyone. Not just your #slutwalk “girl gang” with pink hair and toe rings. That’s not bringing the freedom fibre to every home.

Lena, just like Gwyneth, cannot see that the particular version of justice, and of wellness/”self-care”, is inevitably served to a minority. And, no. I don’t mean she should have more women of colour on her show. It’d be nice, but it is not an act of aggression to omit them as she does; it’s probably an accurate reflection of the New York life she leads. What I do mean is she should shut up and have a really long think before she embarrasses herself as badly, I am pleased to report, as she did late last week. Well, that is, if she wants to continue to be seen as a “progressive”, and not as the neo-conservative an avowed right-wing commentator so accurately diagnosed.

The Dunham ideology is beginning to show, GOOP-style. In the most recent Lenny Letter, Lena laid her ideology so bare, many found they could not look in her direction with fondness again.

In an interview with fellow neo-conservative ideologue Amy Schumer, Lena recounted the terrible story of her time at the Met Ball. Apparently, the poor thing was seated next to NFL wide receiver, Odell Beckham Jr.—young, hot, black and male—“and it was so amazing because it was like he looked at me and he determined I was not the shape of a woman by his standard.”

Beckham had not said a word to Dunham, but she knew what he was thinking: “That’s a marshmallow. That’s a child. That’s a dog.” He also, she says, seemed “confused” that an audacious, sassy, self-actualised lady like her who had the GUMPTION to dress in a tuxedo—oh, my goodness, the gender-bending thrill—could even exist! What a yokel! He actually seemed more interested in his cell phone than Lena Dunham. How is this possible?

Okay. Loads of us ascribe cruel and complex motivations to others when we are being ignored. Loads of us are self-involved. Most of us are sufficiently self-aware not to publicly retell these paranoid moments, as Dunham, did, as fact. And Dunham’s subsequent apology, which offered her feminine insecurity as an excuse, doesn’t change the fact that much, much more than most, a filmmaker and publisher is absolutely in the habit of editing.

Still, Dunham didn’t see a thing wrong with her frank attribution of crude sexuality to a young black man, until several black people pointed it out. And, bully for her in apologising etc. and turning this into a “teachable moment”. But, seriously. Did she, now 30, not do even a little post-colonial reading at Oberlin College, a university so expensively sensitive to “cultural appropriation”, its (chiefly white) students sought a ban on “inauthentic” tacos? Was there seriously not one unit that required this privileged daughter of Manhattan to read a bit of Fanon or Baldwin or Said? Mr and Mrs Dunham were badly ripped off.

So are Dunham’s young fans who crave a path to a better world, but receive instruction on racism instead. (I’d call it “casual racism”, but this seems inappropriate, given Dunham’s choice of attire.) Even if Dunham has received absolution, a great fuel for both America’s celebrity and its after-school specials, this doesn’t begin to excuse the rest of the effing interview.

Look. I love crass female candour. It’s my very favourite. But I don’t think either Dunham or Schumer can be said to be candid, when they are not even being honest with themselves. In a passage about Schumer’s new commitment to gun control, the comedian describes how the fatal shooting of two movie-goers at a screening of her hit Trainwreck moved her into action. Quite understandably, Schumer was personally touched by the death of these two women. She learned what she could about them. “And it just so happens that they were two of the sweetest angels who have ever lived, you know?” she says to bestie, Dunham.

And then, “It is never some toothless fucking crackhead who gets killed”.

Now, we could put this down to a moment of comic bathos, I guess. But, Amy has already said that she is not going to joke about gun violence. “I wish I could muster the energy to put a clever and sarcastic spin on some of the grave statistics about gun violence in America, but I have to tell you, I just fucking can’t,” she writes in her best-selling memoir.

So, Amy wasn’t joking when she said to bestie Dunham that a “toothless fucking crackhead” is less likely to be murdered than an “angel” of the sort inclined to go and see her empowering films. But let’s set aside that Schumer is entirely wrong about the “grave statistics” she refuses to even joke about and that the people most likely to die by firearms are from populations most likely to be underserviced by dentists and over-serviced by dealers in crack cocaine. (I’ll leave you to figure out what colour these people are.)

Let’s pretend that toothless fucking crackheads are not especially prone to gun violence. Even so, the Dunham-Schumer message is clear: some lives matter more than others.

Some people are worth defending more than others. Some people deserve our respect more than others. There are ordained groups of “diverse” “angels” whose rights we will defend. And then, there are toothless fucking crackheads and athletes who don’t even bother to rape us with their eyes.

Call me very old-fashioned—and I am sure that some Dunham-happy ditz on Twitter will—but I suggest these words from 1848 might be useful for Lena, Amy and anyone who considers that there are some groups of people worth defending, and others—including people with bad teeth and athletes who don’t pay me attention–who deserve a bollocking in a newsletter read by more than 600,000.

The free development of each is the condition for the free development of all.

You don’t get to choose who has freedom. You don’t get to say who has earned your defence of their rights. I mean, you could try excluding white men, men who don’t look at you or people who dislike the music of Taylor Swift from the program of emancipation you tell me you have written for the world. But, that’s not freedom, is it? It’s a very partial freedom delivered only to “angels” with pink hair, an attitude and numb democratic consensus for the very questionable views of Hillary Clinton. It’s a freedom extended to certain deserving categories of people, ergo not freedom.

It’s a $200 smoothie. It’s a high-end vaginal steam-clean. It’s a casserole made for your “girl gang” while you were colouring your hair bright pink and Instagramming the whole empowering shemozzle. It is, in short, a sales job in the very worst traditions of women’s magazines. Unless your interest extends only to the travails of the sassy and female and rich, you should unsubscribe from Dunham and from Schumer. Maybe resubscribe to Paltrow for a little old-school hate-read.

95 responses to “It’s time to unsubscribe from Lena and Amy (and start hate-reading Gwyneth again)

  1. Jesus Helen. If you were any more puritanical, you’d be a fucking nun.

    While you expend so much energy decrying the motivations of the nouveau fem and her parent’s evil bank balance, getting your magnifying glass out, searching for blemishes on the moral skin of the chicks who have made it bigger than you.

    I kind of love how you make light of the pink-haired and empowered Sportsgirl feminist, but what you fail to see is the irony. Pretty rich coming from a woman who makes a sport of out reducing people to “Privileged White Daddy’s Girls” and “Real People” If you were any more divisive, we’d have to induct you into the KKK.

    Gwyneth Paltrow hires poor academics to write essays for her blog about letting go of jealousy and bitterness. Maybe you should give it a read. (Sorry. I forgot. You don’t read anything by rich people).

    Brutalising the rich, like mocking Americans is a socially acceptable act of prejudice amongst the culturally elite.

    Go on, tell me you couldn’t give a shit about money, what you care about is attitude. Conservatism. Sheep herd mentality. Neo fems who don’t deserve their riches and fame because they’re too… um… obvious.

    Oh sister.



    Because you’re not obvious AT ALL.

    1. I am certain that you feel you have made an irrefutable point about personal hypocrisy, Rivs. And that’s lovely for you. I will permit you to enjoy this moment of saying nothing without the terrible burden of analysis and let it stand in for real critique. I kind of suspect you need a boost.

      1. Hi Helen,
        You and Judith Lucy were on Triple J when I went to uni. As a sheltered white boy, you took me way outside my comfort zone and I loved you for it.

        Glad to see you out kicking arse again. This post and your comments are just .. *bellissimo* (with hand gesture).

    2. Didn’t you read the bit about Marxism? Were you not aware that those on the left have an issue with the rich and privileged whether they be male, female, American or otherwise. Divisive in the first instance perhaps but when did capitalism ever unite anyone? At what point does criticism become divisive anyway? Does criticism of racists divide society or do the racists?

    3. I’m sorry, Rivs, but commissioning poor academics to write articles on letting go of jealousy for a blog otherwise saturated in privilege is perhaps not quite the magnanimous act you seem to want it to be. Don’t Worry, Be Happy? Let them eat kale, indeed

    1. I am also glad that someone FINALLY made the accusation to a female writer, “You’re just jealous of other women”.
      Actually. No. I’m just a tedious Marxist who offers a communist agenda hidden beneath stories of the pop culture. But. Sh. Don’t tell.

      1. Helen PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE write so much more. I’m so glad that there is are feminist voice out there that can see through the bs of these silver-spooned navelgazers desperately trying to co-opt people’s movements like feminism.

    2. but it’s just so kind of Gwyneth to hire poor academics to write articles about “letting go of jealousy and bitterness” that is after all what academics are known for, their ability to not be jealous or bitter or hold on to things

  2. Thank you Helen Razer for this superb critique, from Cathy Bray the Poet, or as I called myself in my 2013 Fringe show NO FIXED ADDRESS (before Tony Abbott gave Phil the Greek a fiefdom): the Duchess of Over Disclosure.
    (Dame Dame Duchess Disclosure, Birchgrove-proud Coo-ee,
    Took great care of her suburb etc.)

  3. Is the underlying attitude here (whether it’s Paltrow’s or Dunham’s or maybe even yours Razer, and mine as well) that irks, not the what is said specifically but the how? How these things are thought/said/published with self involvement but little self awareness? Is it empowerment to not analyse what you’re doing or saying but just do and say? Because that’s definitely attractive, I’d imagine it is especially if you’re culturally pressured against that behaviour. A selfish freefall that can entertain? Sounds like the sad crack that is improv, or crowd work in a stand up routine. At least Razer is actually writing her material.

  4. I actually really enjoyed this article, I don’t agree with all of it necessarily however fundamentally I do. But, I have to ask, what’s your issue with pink hair? Lol

    1. Okay. Girls is really good. And it was as her fictional character, Hannah Horvath, that Dunham said this, and it was supposed to be funny and not a statement of reality. And she didn’t say “voice if my generation” alone. She said “well a voice of a generation” after and the comic context was that she was asking her parents for money.
      Girls is really good and this scene, IMO, is hilarious. It hooked me. And one kind of gets the feeling across time with Girls that Hannah may not even be a particularly good writer. That’s one of the strengths of the show. She is not like Carrie Bradshaw, whom we are supposed to believe is a good and celebrated writer, ( even though we regularly hear evidence to the contrary) but a complete disaster., whose memoir is unpublished, whose Masters is incomplete.
      I want to be really clear that, in my view, Dunham is a wonderful filmmaker.
      (Unfortunately SPOILER ALERT it seems that in the finale of the last season, Hanna is “really coming into her own as a writer”. I find it depressing that Dunham has given her character over to the success narrative after five seasons.)
      My point is: don’t diss the lady’s work! It’s v good.

  5. I’m not a fan of Lena, Amy or Gwyneth, and you make some good points in this article. However, here’s what I don’t get:

    If feminism is about equality, why do you hold these women more accountable than their male counterparts? Why must they meet a higher standard of being?

    There seems to be some invisible hierarchy of bigotry, and activism, where, for example:

    A person can fight for black rights while also being homophobic or sexist, and no one will question their commitment to black rights…

    A person can fight for LGBT rights, and also be sexist or racist, and few will question their commitment to LGBT rights…

    However, if a woman is not completely intersectional (fighting for every segment of society, across race, religion, age, wealth, ability, sexuality, etc) her “feminism” will be questioned. She’s not a “real feminist”, her “version” of feminism is considered damaging, or she’s accused of only being interested in making things better for herself.

    Double standard, no?

    Jane Campion made a very good point recently when talking about film directors, “There won’t be equality until there are as many mediocre women directors as there are mediocre men.”

    In choosing to hate on women like Lena, Amy and Gwyneth, you’re making the mistake of jumping on the bandwagon that says women are not allowed to be mediocre, that women must be held to a higher account than their male counterparts, rather than treating them with equal (dis)regard.

    My “version” of feminism? Even when women I don’t like and don’t agree with get into positions of power and gain publicity, it is good for feminism. Because in an equal world there would be an equal number of high profile women that I hate as to how many high profile men I hate (no shortage).

    (N.B. Of course I would rather the world be filled with people who I respect rather than hate, regardless of gender. However, currently there is an oversupply of selfish bigoted morally corrupt arseholes in positions of power and influence. Equality is somehow more realistic than expecting these people to develop a conscience.)

    Currently there are so many men given a platform and airtime over the voices of women, we don’t need to pile on to the few women who get through. That doesn’t mean you have to agree with them, but you could have written this article about any number of men who suck (like I said, no shortage) but instead you cherry picked some women who suck, who, due to inequality, would have been harassed even if they didn’t suck.

    Better yet, you could flip the script. Pick a couple of women who you do respect, but who are being unfairly hated on, and be a public defender against trolls. Be a Super Hero, rather than a Super Hater…

    Or don’t. Because it is every woman’s right to be every bit as mediocre as their male counterparts.

    1. Okay. First, please don’t use the term “hate on” unless you are a US citizen under twenty-five.
      Second, please don’t accuse me of intersectionalism. I am familiar with that nascent inter-discipline. I don’t like it. It is indistinct, for mine, from identity politics and serves at best as a good reminder not to be an idiot.
      Third. “Hating on” “women”. Oh, seriously. They’re not a protected species and for the love of cock, I spend most of my time writing about blokes. But the identity of people is of very little interest to me, hence my lack of interest in intersectionalism. The ideology of people is much more interesting. As Schumer and Dunham gave such a bare account of their, I wrote about it.
      It’s big news. The piece has been widely distributed. In a publication, by the way, owned by Hearst. Dunham and her company had every opportunity to edit this pro for-profit dispatch. I mean, it wasn’t an idle moment by two gals just shooting the shit, now, was it? It was a mediated and widely distributed document that apparently I shouldn’t analyse because they’re women.

      1. You may say you don’t like intersectionlism, however your argument here seems to be basically it. You don’t like that they call themselves feminists when all they stand for is white wealthy privileged women like themselves, and they show a lack of insight or compassion for people who are lacking in wealth or black. I don’t like them other, but do I think they deserve more criticism than all the other superficial famous people? This is about the third article (or more?) you’ve written about why you think Lena should shut up. That is an unusual amount of attention, that borders on infatuation. Both mainstream media and alternative outlets are full of bigotry and superficiality so I don’t see how the distribution of these women’s content is worth singling out. BTW the English language is predominant precisely because it adapts and incorporates new words and phrases rather than be dogmatic, and “Hater” and “hating on” are viable choices in the year 2016, regardless of age of the user. You don’t have to use these words yourself, but others are free to (regardless of age, gender, sexuality, race, religion, wealth, education et al).

        1. Edit: typing via mobile phone, and no edit or preview feature on comments, so I note in my previous message a couple mistakes that might cause confusion. One sentence should read “who are lacking in wealth or *who are* black,” and a later sentence should say “I don’t like them *either*”, rather than I don’t like them “other” (I am perfectly fine with people being “other”). I think the rest is understandable enough.

        2. So. Just to be clear. I have a psychological problem. I am bitter and obsessed.
          That’s a refreshing way to view a lady writer!
          FFS. For the nth time. As if it were not amply clear in the text. What I have sought to do by means of focus on a particular popular and gifted young artist who holds forth in addition to her creative work is describe a very dominant ideology.
          Lena Dunham is a popular presence. I am not focusing on her because I am jealous and bitter. Even if I were, it would not be relevant. The point is: is what I am saying about this ideology. Do you agree that “a rising tide lifts all boats” is a positive message? If you do, fine. If you don’t, fine. But argue in terms of what I have very clearly stated is the problem here. The problem is the beliefs we conceal from ourselves (AKA ideology) . That Lena Dunham writes so often and so guilelessly to such a large audience makes her a useful focus. I am not “dissing” her and please look up “intersectionality” before you accuse me of it. Intersectionalism is about valuing identity categories. I am about assessing ideology in this piece.
          The minute Lena Dunham keeps giving us clumsy hints of her ideology is the minute I will stop writing about her as anything other than the very talented artist that she is. If you think this is a personal vendetta, you haven’t read my piece.

    2. YES YES YES. My thoughts also, and so thoughtfully and eloquently articulated. I enjoyed the piece and generally agree w it, even. But what you have outlined was very conspicuous.

  6. I would brutalise anyone who supports the ‘entrepreneurship’ of the Kardashians ( as Dunham does)So it’s ok for someone like Dunham to perpetuate the objectification and commodification of women?and not for someone who thinks/ uses their brain – ( instead of their tits) aka ‘the cultural elite ‘ to lambast them ? Tribes of young women are led to believe that the way you look and your ability to market your look through whatever means possible is something to aim for in life. Being rich and powerful (or american)isn’t a crime but using that position to perpetuate destructive myths is . At the very least don’t call yourself a feminist when what you really are is a self promoting celebrity air head .

  7. Rivs IS Taylor Swift..fact!Thanks for a great feature Helen, really made me larf, but that means I’m a bitter twisted loser sick with jealousy etcetc…hey ho…onwards and downwards 🙂

  8. I loved this piece. I appreciate that the critique really lies in the lack of intersectional awareness of these comedians. Self care is and always has been a radical response to oppression from gender, race, sexuality, poverty, etc (per Audre Lorde etc). But to write a wealthy, capitalistically driven self-care that not only fails to include the points of intersection with oppressive systems, but actually obscures and erases the visibility of such systems in the process, is really troubling. In fact, the case could be made that only female comedians who still tow the line are allowed to be made so visible, so popular, etc. It’s because they conform to the existing terms and dimensions of society, and not because they are radicals, that they can be recognized and intelligible at all.

    1. no no NO to intersectionalism. I don’t like it at all. Its intentions are good, obviously. And Lorde (who predates the inter-disciplinary movement) gives us a good reminder that there are always people being left out of dominant discourse.
      In my view, intersectionalism does not provide a theoretical framework that necessarily places people inside discourse. I recognsie it’s an earnest attempt, but I see it as a very liberal utopian project, which is why it was so popular at the UN.
      General rule of thumb for me is: if liberal institutions say something’s good, then it’s probably bad. Although, I have read the Crenshaw and the Hill texts and discussed with legitimately intersectional friends the frameworks of this discipline, and even with these more rigorous criteria, I still see it as elaborated identity politics.
      I am not for a moment saying that the recent more prominent participation, in particular, of women of colour in feminist conversation is a bad thing. It’s a great thing. I am not even saying that different experiences do not bring different, and richer, perspectives to a theoretical discussion. They do. One of my fave femmos, Gayatri Spivak, wrote as she wrote due in some part to being Indian. She changed the shape of feminist discourse. Thank you India, to quote Alanis.
      but no no no I am not intersectional. I do not recommend this framework to others. I do not see that identifying people by categories and then asking that the value of those categories be reassessed as ultimately useful, either politically or theoretically. There’s far too much of a celebration element to intersectionalism, which becomes absurd when you consider that most brutal of all the oppression categories, which is poverty. “I ask that you value my poverty category”. NO. I will not celebrate your poverty and its culture.
      (Sorry. I do go on. But no one will let me write professionally about my reservations about intersectionalism. So I had at it for three minutes here. I appreciate your comments.)

      1. Thanks for the three minutes. I’m actually far more interested in where you would go with this kind of analysis than I am trying to infer the peculiarities of your stance from the various ways you shoehorn it into the pop culture diatribes.

      2. “No one will let me write professionally about my reservations about intersectionalism.”

        Forgive me for being a whistlehead, but I can’t tell if you’re joking there. Your comment about it is one of the most interesting things I’ve read recently and I’d love to hear you expand on it and perhaps even a sieve-brain like myself can work out whether or not her own growing distrust of ‘identity politics’ is valid or just another brain fart. I’ve never read GOOP or Dunham but my favourite hate-read is the stumbling OMG GUYS IS THIS OKAY I’LL CHANGE IT IF IT’S WRONG facebook page of a particular Aussie femmo whom I’ll refer to as ‘Madeleine Holden’.
        Maybe I should shut up myself.

        1. I quite understand that no editor is particularly interested in a critique of intersectionalism. Although it’s true that Hillary has mentioned it in her campaign, it is an idea still limited to only a few people. No point in criticising it if most people don’t know what it means.
          If Clinton keeps mentioning it, I’ll have an audience for a criticism of it, though.

        1. NP, Isabel.
          You can Google “critiques of intersectionality” and come up with a few results. I’m not the only gal who finds it lacking.

  9. The comments on a Razor article are always so much better than the article itself, which is actually a compliment to the author IMHO.

  10. Honestly, though.

    “You don’t get to choose who deserves freedom.”

    Unless you’re Helen Razer. And you use sarcasm to conceal your high school-grade logic.

    Rolling your eyes at Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle blog – to whose target demographic you really don’t belong, is such an ill-informed cliche. All it really means is that you subscribe to a pink-haired buzz feed blog or Facebook feed which makes click bait out of “Rich girl Gwyneth promotes vagina steamer and $70 organic garbage bags ” headlines. Have you actually read any of the articles on her site?

    Are you not pandering to a popular misapprehension that Paltrow is nothing but a spoilt white girl?

    Would you prefer Dunham if she was a Jersey girl? Swift if she was fat? Schumer if she was campaigning for drug reforms?

    Get some originality up ya.

    1. If only there were some way to search such terms, or some collaborative encyclopedia online that could answer this question!

  11. Sadly, even Gwynie has let go of GOOP….. yes, even she has moved on. As for Lena and Amy, humility is not a strong point of either.

  12. Hi Helen,
    You have the ability to put your finger directly on the reason why Dunham and Schumer shit me to tears. I always knew they did, but now I know exactly why. I am genuinely glad for the insight.

  13. I googled for alpaca semen but can only get it in 100ml bottles. Where can I get 800 bottles to fill a bath economically? I’m afraid Gwynyth doesn’t provide an answer.

  14. (Our) Gwyneth aside, I’ve never heard of the people you have written about, (and I assume that”Girls” is/are a TV series that I’ve never watched), but despite my ignorance I enjoyed this article.
    I am SO over the great and the good telling me that I would be a better person if only I were more like them.
    As for “It is never some toothless fucking crackhead who gets killed.” Jesus, I don’t believe somebody said that, then having said it, decided it was OK to publish.
    I guess that’s life in the bubble. The only awareness in self-awareness.

  15. “It’s fun to laugh at blind privilege.” Sure it is, and I’m as guilty as any. It’s either that or cry.

    The rest of my commentary would just amount to hagiography, so no point in me writing it, and it would only serve to blow your tyres up a bit too high, and who needs that sort of pressure.

    This is the sort of stuff I might write one day, after I’ve retired and don’t have fears about repercussions. Plus I’d have to develop the courage. I have these sorts of thoughts, but tend not to tell people as I have found that pointing out hypocrisy and cognitive dissonance in others arguments tends not to win you friends.

    And I still have this desire to be liked, which I hope to completely get over.

    Carry on Helen. You’ll pay for your truth-telling. You do know that.

  16. Aren’t they all just grifters, and will grift where they can. Grifter (as in what Trump is called) = holding to a false consciousness in the face of logic and making a buck out of it all while the time allows.

    It’s easy to act like Lena Durham once (even without irony), but it takes work to be consistent year after year while being sincere and ernest about it.

    I dont have that skill (or so I think), so I am unlikely to earn a wage doing GOOP or somesuch.

  17. From the comments here, it really does seem that people still don’t understand that disagreeing, giving criticism or taking an issue with something someone said or did, doesn’t mean you’re trying to silence or tear them down, or even telling them how to live. Mostly it’s just sharing your own opinion, and hoping maybe the person may be informed about how it was/is hurtful or ignorant, in the hopes they might educate themselves so make better choices in the future. Or can make steps to rectify if they did hurt someone.

    You can point out flaws in someones logic while not sinking to the lowest common denominator of just insulting their physical state or sexual history. That’s why it’s called constructive criticism.

    But this is the problem, most comments who disagree with something won’t even try to articulate a reasonable response beyond an insult, a slur, a ranting tirade that doesn’t even connect to the topic or issue.

    For example the Amy Schumer heckle video on Youtube, the top comment is “Kill it with fire” and the rest of the the top comments don’t get much better with many using swear words to insult her, or simply make lewd comments about her weight or ‘attractiveness’. Others are airing her sexual history…
    Not many comments are discussing what actually transpired in the video, or her actual response and why they feel it was wrong, if that’s how they actually feel. They see it more as a hate “pile-on” to have fun trolling and getting responses and seeing just how far they can push it, and just how many they can get to agree, or even disagree, because they love the responses and attention from being so ridiculously outrageous.

    It’s pretty sad. This comes from someone who loathes Lena and Amy for their hypocritical ways, but doesn’t think they or anyone deserve to be insulted and threatened physically like this.

    It does also make me wonder… Even if/when someone admits to wrong-doing they and trying to make steps to correct it. Why do people still go on about it about it despite the person doing what they wanted and apologiesing? Is it a case of the public loving the hyperbole? Is there literally no back-tracking allowed these days? Perhaps these ‘celebrities’ realize this… and so instead of correcting themselves, knowing people won’t believe them or let them ‘off the hook’ regardless – simply dig in, deeper. Knowing full well it will make little difference.

    The hyperbole certainly has a lot to answer for.

    1. For the nth time. This is a piece about popular ideology. The stuff that provides a moral rationale for unequal systems. It’s not effing “Intersectional” and it’s not effing “hating on other women”. It is not hyperbolic. It is an examination of the dumb things that people say to keep things as they are.
      It’s a look at how ruling ideas present themselves as “rebellion”. It’s not dissing women. FFS. Read it again.

  18. Seriously, decriminalisation of sex work? It’s already alive well and kicking anyone gets in the way of a traffickers arse. Let’s all turn into Germany, they’re really looking after their girls over there. Capitalism is alive and well when HR believes this.
    And this
    And this

    1. To argue for the decriminalisation of sex work is to argue for the rights of workers who work in any case. Whether sex work is criminal, fully legal or licensed in brothels, it is performed and consumed by the same number of people in the several nations where this data has been collected. So saying that you want it decriminalised is not to endorse it. It’s just saying that it is something that happens and that the best way to avoid (a) a clogged juridical system (b) injuries to sex workers and (c) transmission of STU is making it fully lawful.
      And, how do you get from “I think a worker should not be thrown in jail for performing their labour” to “I think people should be able to steal other people”. What is this, a slippery slope argument? Sex trafficking is terrible of course, as is any other form of slavery. But I am not proposing that it should be legal or tolerated.
      Just as decriminalised cannabis use does NOT result in increased death by meth or whatever, decriminalised sex work does not result in sex slavery. And, yes. The Spain argument. The increased reporting of slavery originating there is due to Spain’s proximity to nations with asylum seeker populations. Sex trafficking is, obviously, going to impact desperate peoples most. And, the thing that we’re not supposed to talk about is that many women seeking asylum will claim that they have been sex trafficked so that they can get asylum. Because apparently “bombs are raining down on my home and my family was slaughtered” is not sufficient reason to grant someone asylum. I’d be like “yes I was TOTALLY sex trafficked” as well, if forced to seek asylum.
      I do not approve or disapprove of the sale of sex services more than I approve or disapprove of any other labour exchange. Don’t give me that”you’re a capitalist” malarkey. Because I don’t make a distinction between a child tin miner who dies for Apple and a sex slave. It’s all terrible.
      But I don’t think sex is terrible. If someone sells it, I am not saying they have a “choice” any more than I have a choice not to work. But, heck, I would be annoyed if writing was a criminal act.

      1. Helen, the stats very clearly show that trafficking happens in far far larger numbers in countries that have decriminalised/legalised (depending on which country you’re speaking of) sex work. Any number of reports support this.
        Where has this legislation actually helped in woman in sex work? The only thing ever created to help women feel safer is The Nordic Model. Which when it was first created even the bloke meant to enforce it didn’t think it would change things but guess what rape was reduced dramatically and instead of being raped or beaten the girls now just have their hair pulled or their faces bitten…I’m sure not what happens often to most of us at work but an absolute win for any one on prostitution.
        Do you know anyone can’t call themselves a sex worker (and does) in the media, so pimps and brothel owners often make up entire associations – with no true workers even involved.
        I think it’s fantastic that you answer do many of your commenters. I ask you to please consider reading into this because people listen to you and generally you stand up for the most vulnerable people in society – it’s estimated that according to diff countries and indig populations between 60-80% of women in sex work have suffered sexual abuse as kids. And if they do find a way out the stats across 9 countries show they at 68% of them have Traumatic Stress Disorder that would be found in citizens who’ve been involved in state sponsored terrorism. Would you at least look at PimpState or the stuff these guys talk about is hideous and they always want the youngest girl possible.
        Sex is not an issue, sexual coercion is. Surely you can see by the differences in porn from when you were a teenager to now to see the kind of treatment these men expect to met out, purely because they’re paying for sex. Thanks for the time. TT

  19. re: Social justice a bit like the National Broadband Network: it only works if you extend the big pipe of liberty to everyone. Not just your #slutwalk “girl gang” with pink hair and toe rings. That’s not bringing the freedom fibre to every home.

    Liberty is the absence of coercion. Freedom is the ability to make choices once you have your liberty.
    If Social justice is “a bit like the National Broadband Network” then I do not want any part of this immoral concept. The NBN is paid for with my money which is taken without my consent, aka stolen. This is an act of coercion and as such violates my liberty. It consequently restricts my freedom to use that money to put it in another ISP – or whatever I choose.
    You do not extend liberty – you let people alone. You do not bring the freedom fibre as people should have the freedom to choose whatever is available; be it copper wire, fibre or satellite – or none of the above!

    1. Damn fascist government imposing footpaths built from public monies on us all. It should be User Pays. And if you make the decision to live in rural Australia and perform a socially useless labour like producing food, well, you jolly well have to cop the fact that it was YOUR CHOICE and if you want something more than glacial satellite speed to engage in contemporary business, well just charge more for your milk. If you WORK hard, you can get hundreds of kilometres of optic fibre cable delivered. Why should the peopel pay? What have you ever done for them?

      Oh. FFS. Laisse-faire economics is dead. Try to read something. Or, don’t. Whatever. This is no sort of argument at all. And if you have not considered the generations of cost saving to a multitude of government services (but I guess you want us to do away with Medicare, right?) that an NBN will provide, then at least think of how a telecommunications system, such as the one put in place by the PMG, makes new business possible.

  20. wow are you a dazzlingly good writer.

    i never had a problem with goop and part of it was because paltrow became the patron saint of not giving a fuck to me. of course she knew she was constantly, relentlessly pilloried and didn’t give a fuck. kept going. for years. of course she knew what she was getting with the v steam. she did it anyway. and when i happened to find myself at that same little spa? i had one too, and really dug it. (yes, i came from nothing, but now i can afford a trip to a local spa).

    dunham and schumer are insufferable to me in many of the ways you mention, because of their unaware privilege hopped up on their millennial self importance and delight – although i do admire each has hella hard workers and not lacking talent. dunhams tweets about beckham were horrific, but what was worse was her apology – which was all about her and her feelings, none about him and what it must be like to be him.
    but here’s a dumb question that i’m sure has been asked so often, the answer will come fast and furious. what is so wrong with them, blindly playing to their peeps? because the one question i have about this brilliant piece is, that they are “selling the lie of upward mobility” – i don’t think they are, i dont think they intend to, i think they are just creating content with each other, and they are having an effect on hollywood, which is no small thing. its not helping women in somolia, but it is something. jennifer lawrence writing about women’s wages on lenny changed how women are compensated in that industry. doors are opening faster for women in the entertainment industry – that holds a lot of power – than in any time in history. yes, they are having that effect in HW because it benefits THEM, but they are having an effect. are they racist AF? yes. are they class clueless? HELL yes. but does every one have to be everything? because not everyone has the capacity to see things in a big picture way. i think the vitriol against dunham is that she is claiming to carry a mantle of feminism, and she carries the smallest most minute sliver. but she does carry that sliver. i frankly don’t expect anything more of her.

    1. Jennifer Lawrence arguing that she should be paid 20 million a film instead of a mere 10 illustrates the point of my piece well.
      The liberal/conservative ideology is “a rising tide lifts all boats”. Many of us continue to believe that if certain heretofore marginalised people receive great financial or other reward, then everyone in that group—women, people of colour, LGBTI people etc—will benefit.
      This does not happen. The fact of a black president does not mean better conditions for black people. The fact of more women on boards does not mean better conditions for female workers. Jennifer Lawrence’s negotiations have no meaning at all for women workers who are not paid millions of dollars per project and that her elite project is construed as inspirational is ideology.
      I mean. Great for Jennifer Lawrence. My heart bleeds for those poor actresses who cannot afford two private jets. But, if we see such moments as “democratic” and not as a way to serve unequal conditions for workers, then we are dumbos.

      1. This is dumb. The point of Jennifer Lawrence being shortchanged 10 million is simple: if she, a powerful woman at the top of her field, is getting screwed, what chance does the average person, at the bottom of the totem-pole, have?

        It’s not about her needing 10 million more than a million women need 10 bucks, it’s about showcasing that even huge outliers with proven success and pedigree experience brazen discrimination. To sweep under the rug her issue and call for attention for more earthly concerns instead, is like telling first-world women to suck it up because women in the third-world have it worse.

        Man, you leftists truly do eat your own. Enjoy your oppression olympics.

        1. Leftist. You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
          Urging for spectacular income of a privileged few has not now nor has it ever been an aim of the left. How can you possibly think that “leftism” means support for wealth inequality?
          What you are describing is classical liberalism, or the mutant Austrian and Chicago schools of economics. Von Mises or Friedman (I am not going to tell you who these people are; clearly, you are very well versed on different economic positions so you will know) believe that wealth at the top trickles down to benefit all. This is called supply side economics. Both leftists and (demand side) Keynesians (Stiglitz) do not.
          You have made a very fundamental error. Which I’d feel bad about if you hadn’t come across like such a smug little thing reading me the “truth” about economics.
          First, get a clue. Then comment. The other way ’round is more painful for everyone.

      2. except i don’t think anyone here is claiming that a rising tide lifts all boats. i guess some people might think that, and ive heard a version of that, under both liberal and conservative guises. i think they are fighting a different fight. jennifer lawrence thinks she should be paid as much as a man who ignites the same audience response, has the same level of talent, and is in the same demand as she. in large part because of her letter on lenny, she now does. for some people the fight is in their family, for some in their neighborhood, for some it is in the world.

        but doing something for your family has an effect. that jennifer lawrence now wants a female director, means that two very feminist directors DO get their shot and then DO get to make their own passion project next that are more reflective of a broader reality. that Jlaw, amy, and lena are speaking out is helping women. that amy and lena are speaking out and exposing their racism give discussions like this a chance to be.

        1. I do feel like the point I am making is now considered so dangerously leftist (it’s not) that you’re just failing to get it, despite your intelligence and my clarity on the matter.
          If we talk (and we do, all the effing time) about How Important it is that we have “diverse” (i.e. currently disadvantaged) in powerful positions such as media and politics, we implicitly accept that these acts are, even if not a guarantee of, but tantamount to equalty itself.
          Yes, as I often say, I like seeing kick arse ladies in cinema and what have you. But, no, I do not confuse the fact that a female director has secured the right to make Zero Dark Thirty, FFS, anything to do with any kind of freedom.
          If you keep saying that “representation” is important, then you begin to believe it. Then representation functions as religion. Oh look. There is a comforting thought. I do not have to worry about the troubling things in my life any more, because the US may have a female president. And we’re thrilled by the idea of this “equalising” female president for which reason, again? She simply has an appalling record on legislating for women.
          Please. Understand how the judgement that power held by the elite is power held by the elite. Jennifer Lawrence’s complaints about equal pay have NOTHING to do with everyday labour. Not one thing. And, in fact, if she wins that battle, then the fact of unequal wages (not just unequal between women, but classes) gives us false religious hope.
          I am about five seconds away from screaming WAKE UP SHEEPLE on the internet. That so many can hold that the experience of the elite few trickles down to the many (and regularly fail to give me an example of how or when this has worked, short of saying “it’s inspiring”) and NOT see that this is capitalist ideology is beyond me.
          FFS. Jennifer Lawrence is nice and feisty. But she doesn’t matter one bit.
          As for the female director of Zero Dark Thirty. How inspiring that a WOMAN is finally able to make just the sort of propaganda that allows the US and its allies to go on killing millions. FINALLY EQUALITY.
          How can you not see this? Seriously? How can you not see that the mania for representation, or the Great Man of History view, is capitalist individualism incarnate?
          And FFS where are all these “equal wages” going to come from? If it ain’t women earning shit money, it will be someone else. This is a rule observed by many economists of a capitalist economy. It’s not sexism that creates poverty. IT IS CAPITALISM FFS

          1. Look. This, like many of my comments here, is a grammatical casserole made from the offal of my telephone.
            I gave you the gun quote “the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all”. I am not pulling things out of my arse, here. I am drawing on nearly two hundred years of thought.
            If you cannot see that “aspiring” and admiring representational categories does not have an near religious function, then I don’t see how I can convince you otherwise. I have done it pretty clearly. I am not that up myself, but I am proficient enough to know when I have communicated an idea fairly well.
            You can continue to believe that Jennifer Lawrence will somehow set us free in a magical way if you wish. But for the love of Karl, please try to argue that point and consider the first principles of your argument before you come at me with “but it’s inspiring”.
            Or, you know, as others have advised me, don’t read things that upset you. I mean, I have a pretty hard time avoiding Lena Dunham but I, by contrast, am as easy as anything for you to avoid.
            If you want liberal individualism celebrating women’s great achievements, go to Daily Life. Go to Jezebel. Read basically anything over at Fairfax. Spare yourself the trouble of leaving a more unusual analysis (which does have traditions) you clearly don’t want to grasp in the first instance and just go and read anything on the internet that praises “inspiring” women for their contribution to private wealth accumulation of the five jillion articles being written this minute about how, apparently, “women shouldn’t tear other women down”.
            Maggie Thatcher.

          2. As an x-gen xpat living abroad for some time now, I find this article and the comments fascinating. I agree with 90% of what you put forth. Admittedly I’m not nearly clever enough to fully understand the entire ‘ grammatical casserole’ that is cooking here. And again I’m reminded how happy I am that I grew up sans social media when I was 20-30 something, such a little trouble maker it tis. To my tangent. Your above comment…. “As for the female director of Zero Dark Thirty. How inspiring that a WOMAN is finally able to make just the sort of propaganda that allows the US and its allies to go on killing millions.” is ridiculous and irresponsible. If it was meant to be off the cuff it failed at least for me. The US and its allies are not killing millions. You in essence reinforcing a false belief that Obama, the agencies, Allied JFC and US military are murders without a cause. Foreign policy, economic stability and military strategy are complicated to say the least. Moreover a film about the killing of UBL isn’t propaganda considering said terrorist and AQ were responsible for 9/11 and frankly all deserve/d more than just a double tap. Cue ISIL, Boko Haram, Al Shabaab and their ilk. I think they missed the lesson “The free development of each is the condition for the free development of all.” Not sure where you live but well that doesn’t matter considering nowhere is really safe. Homegrown followers are popping up like poisonous weeds. Incidentally I don’t think we need a rally film to know they need to be put down, but if one is in the works I’d prefer the best director for the job do it. Period. Tangent over. Thanks for putting your opinion and intellect out there. PS. The self-deprecating comments are bordering on very Amy/Lena. You’re too cool for that. Like when did thank you go out of fashion? Oh right. Millennials.

      1. It’s “well said” only if you believe that the glorious equality enjoyed by a bunch of rich people trickles down to the rest of us. Which it doesn’t. Never has. Never will.

  21. Some sound points. But why refer to Lena’s parents as Mr. and Mrs. Dunham? Either take the time to check if this is true – it’s not, her mother is Ms. Simmons – or don’t assume that parents always share a name.

    1. Hi, Jean. I had assumed (before I checked) that the parents of Lena Dunham were, being those of avowedly liberal people, different. I also assumed that most readers of a piece that is obviously written from a feminist standpoint would see this choice to say “Mr and Mrs Dunham” as humorous. It was an intentional choice to adopt the most old-fashioned, patriarchal way of referring to her family. I did this to be a bit cheeky and share a moment of mild disrespect with the reader (don’t we all, even feminist, like to kick against the orthodoxies we have created for ourselves?) and to add to my more general theme of showing that Dunham, with her :rising tides lifts all boasts” view, is the product of conservatism.
      But mostly it was a joke and an attempt, as is the feminist tradition (notwithstanding our reputation as humourless) to avoid the creation of orthodoxies. You know how younger feminists call each other “ladies”? Like that.
      I should say that I am myself never Ms Razer, but always Miss Razer. I actually prefer to be identified as an unmarried woman. And I enjoy adding the “Miss” box in documents that do not have it. (Which is most of them.)

  22. Just read the article, first time reading your work (sorry), and I thought: what a smart, well-articulated article. Then I scrolled through your comments and saw you engaging with pretty much everyone and man am I blown away by how fucking smart your answers, responses and retorts were. I guess what I’m saying is you’ve got a new fan, keep slaying.

  23. Enjoyed the article. It brought about this thought: Women like Dunham and Schumer, or really any individual ascribed the status as a leader in advocacy for an underserved or underpowered group, will invariably be both a help and a detriment to their supposed causes.

    Such people are often called inspiring, and it’s certain that some number of people will be inspired to effect change (either personal or societal) as a result of this inspiration. Other individuals will be lulled into a stupor and continually milked by the elite just as we’ve all been doped into passivity by The American Dream for centuries. I’ve seen no data to suggest one is more powerful than the other, but I’ll certainly be Googling that more later.

    Ultimately, it doesn’t even matter who or what someone like Dunham is. Were she the perfect specimen of equality advocacy, a paragon of virtue, empathy and understanding, she would still be used as a tool for the advancement of capitalist agendas. Thus, then, does criticism of her even matter? It’s like mental masturbation without the benefit of climax. It’s enjoyable in the moment but you just end up more frustrated than you started.

    I’m not sure if there’s a more effective target for criticism, or if anyone would click on the link minus a famously controversial name, but I’d like to read that article, particularly if you wrote it, Miss Razer.

    1. Again.
      I am not criticising individual people. I am laying bare their thinking that they have conveniently let slip.
      I also happen to have had sixty thousand page views for this piece. So if the “click bait” nature of writing about celebrity is a problem, then I don’t know how to overcome it. Do you?
      While I understand that 2000 words on the terrible ideology of Milton Friedman and his influence on the world might be more serious, it would be very barely read. BUT I did sneak in some stuff there about the Chicago School.
      While I did make one short statement about privilege being a hurdle (not a complete barrier) to understanding, that really wasn’t the point of the piece. It just wasn’t. I don’t think my relative poverty makes me a better person. I don’t think Lena Dunham’s wealth makes her a better one. This wasn’t about “some people are good”. It was about how ideology is bad.
      Please re-read. And then get back to me with a topic that you think would be a better way to engage people on the topic of neoliberalism.

  24. Tragicomedy is not realizing that your deep think piece and subsequent commentary also come from a place of privilege, and that endlessly debating every little nuance of theory does not actually help the underprivileged people you claim to care about. Much in the same way you rail against Gwyneth and crew, some might rail against all of you for having the luxury of banter. Perhaps instead of splitting hairs and defending your position you could be out in the world making a real difference?

    1. Oh. What a novel and bracing response. “What are YOU doing about it, then?”
      Well. Here’s the thing. Labour in the western world has been organised in a pretty specific way since the industrial revolution. We all tend to specialise. This is how we survive. My specialty is writing. Part of the job of writing is to consider responses to it. You know. Considering what your audience has to say. and, in the contemporary era, clarifying your point.
      You may see that I am arguing “fine points”. I am merely iterating my major point. And, really, your criticism that I should be out doing something instead of writing something presupposes that (a) writing about things is not doing anything and (b) that anyone has come up with a solution on what should be done.
      In my view, we have not yet produced an adequate conclusion on what should be done to address the problems of the world. I am in the fortunate position of being able to contribute, in my small way, to that shortfall.
      Anyhow. Yes. I should probably be at a soup kitchen,
      Jesus, mate.

    2. I believe the written word and exchange of ideas do create a difference. What do you do? For a living or otherwise to make change? I’m genuinely curious about how your reply is materialized in the kind of making a real difference you suggest.

  25. Wow! I’ve never come across your work before, but have to say that I loved it, though I as 37 yo gay latino, I doubt I’m your target audience. At any rate, was a fun and intelligent read that I very much enjoyed. Look forward to reading more of your articles in the future.

    The Queercast: Getting to the Heart of Queerness

  26. Incredible, clever writing and a really engaging topic. It is a secretly joyous feeling knowing that all beginnings have ends and by this I mean stardom, but is inevitable really. It feels like rarely does a star (or individual) stay to shine bright forever and Lena has paced herself quite well. The transience of this and perhaps exposure of their inauthenticity leaves space for newcomers -which is exciting and fresh.

    I guess I am left not wanting to criticise, but converse on what may be a sort of ‘so what sensation’: Lena exposing herself and Beckham like that, is in character to the peculiar and personal exposure and ‘normal’ humiliation that she pumps in Girls. The embarrassment that goes on in our private minds. It’s her strongest tool. Perhaps less so about her neo-liberal/feminist stance? No brand can really be all-encompassing of everyone, otherwise it would lack in its individuality that got it its traction to begin with….?

  27. Why as a poc do I feel like I have to wait on the sidelines watching all this happen until everyone comes to the party?

    Forget the crack heads, ignore people of colour – they are irrelevant, but good for punchlines.

    The intersection of class, gender, race, sexuality et al is real. It seems all the protagonists provide is an angle on two of these: gender and class (is white a race?) – female and middle – a story now getting as mundane as middle class and male.

    I wanted to like Lena – suffered through season 1 of girls and could do no more. Read an article in Lenny and unsubscribed after its third month. Watched season of Amy Schumer. It never felt right. The superiority and exclusionary nature of anxiety ridden women who were so glad to have a voice at last. Broad City – now that’s a show.

    1. Thanks so much for your comment, with which I largely agree.
      But I do want to say that there is a distinction between the work of an artist, and the individual political views that artist shares outside an artistic context.
      I agree, obviously, that Girls is hardly an “inclusive” program. Then again, 99% of shows on premium cable are not inclusive and when PoC appear, they do so largely to appease this imaginary white audience. African Americans are victims or perpetrators of crime. Persons from the subcontinent are doctors. Etc. So I would say that to hold Dunham particularly to account on this score is not the most valuable thing to do with one’s time. Her world on Girls is tiny. But, hey, so is everyone’s. And, really, HBO was never going to change the world. Yes, obviously, it would be great to see TV that is not shit and narrow. But, even if we did, nothing much would change.
      What CAN change the world is policy. And it is when Dunham holds forth on that matter that I take issue with her. While you are right to point out there are parallels between her blind spots on Girls and her politics, I think it is better for the sake of argument not to “call her out”, or anyone, for the art that she makes. It’s just TV after all.
      I would also say that a good politics, for mine, is one that doesn’t exclude anyone. Which is to say, it’s not just a matter of including people, and being intersectional and making sure every sort of oppression is on your political to-do list. We cannot possibly understand every form of cultural exclusion in the world. If we keep trying to do this, we’ll do nothing else.
      I think the thing is to ask: how can we change large scale organisation of our societies to reflect the needs and fairly enable, but not exploit, the abilities of everyone?
      You can actually do this without thinking about how bad you are for ignoring transpeople or PwDs or the Druze community. If your foundational assumption is: it’s for everyone, then it is for everyone. The way to offer justice to everyone is not by wondering “who have I left out”, inclusion for mine is a very neoliberal/third way principle. The key, for mine, is absolutely refusing to stand for this class thing any more.
      Again, to answer earlier questions, this is the problem I have with intersectional ideas. Intersectionalism asks us to affirm, or at least recognise, the identity categories of every kind of person. My question is: what then? Once I have affirmed or recognised you, what then? Do I say “that doesn’t matter” or do I say that it does matter? And if I say it doesn’t matter, then I run the risk of ignoring the social conditions that come with your identity category (I tend to use the word “class”) and if I say it does matter then I am affirming the social conditions that, in large part, created your identity ctaegory (class). We can see how difficult intersectional approaches are when we look at poverty. If I affirm or recognise your poverty, what then? If I say “you have a voice” but do nothing to ensure that you do, what was the point?
      Intersectionalism takes the view that poverty (economic class) is just another intersection. Just as important and no more important than gender etc. I think it is so much more than that.

      1. I hear you Helen Razer , but I think you are missing Estelle’s point. WoC have been waiting on the sidelines and for the most part shaking our heads in disbelief as govt policies go to the icky bottom of the banana basket, while we only get access to any forum or receive any attention about intersectional concerns if we are dead, dying, a victim or a criminal (on the ABC, SBS and NITV).

        The problem is that, while white women speak for WoC and dominate that discourse called feminism, they are obviously not speaking for WoC. Going home to a husband who assumes it is your job to cook and clean and raise the kids after work, and both his mother and your mother will emphasise your cultural obligation to comply? Tried engaging with a white community nurse who puts on a contemptuous face and asks if you are eating too many spicy foods as a way of explaining why your baby is so unsettled? If that claim had any legitimacy, the Southern world would never sleep. Tried being a single mother in an ethnic community that praises family values even when your husband is beating you everyday? When child services threatens to take your children away for exposing them to harm, you leave him for the sake of the kids, and suddenly realise that you cant get a decent job to pay your bills because of your skin colour and because most people are used to seeing coloured women cleaning toilets and washing dishes? So you move to a much poorer area and your husband, who now joins the cohort of angry disillusioned men, will take you to court for your inability to care for your children adequately. Tried going to a white female boss and asking for a pay rise to help address your disadvantage? Her resting bitch face non-verbal response is usually quite priceless. She sees herself as a victim and a self-made Wonder Woman, and she does not want anyone clouding those perspectives. Ever gone to our emergency ward and been spoke at loudly because language barriers apparently equate to being deaf? Or immediately asked if you are on drugs, even though you are in tears with a sick baby in your arms? Tried appealing to a panel of privileged white people doing a job selection. You may hold a stellar CV, you may be brighter than all of them put together, but you will never make it past the “but will she ever really fit in” question, which is really just code for white privilege. Watching your affluent white female friends voting for the same lazy, self-serving white male candidate (who was a tennis player in his previous career) every time because they are concerned about the economic implications of putting a coloured person in charge for their white husbands? WoC have come to realise that, with social segregation, ethnic ghettos, long hours of working and Howard’s insidious restructuring of public school education so that children focus on white history, and schools ban words like racism or homosexuality for being too political for school discussions, there is a very deep line being drawn in the sand. Intersection isnt just about economic class.

        Julie Bishop’s recent hissy fit after not making the vote – and good for her – was nice n’all, but at least she had the confidence that quitting was not going to see her sitting in some secretarial job, wondering if you are going to make it to the next paycheck. Its all very well to point to the privilege of Gwyneth, Lena etc etc, and decry it, but it really is a waste of time and doesnt speak to the reality for many of us who simply try to survive – for the sake of our kids.

        Some of the most racist people I have come across are white women – rich and poor. Some of the kindest women I have ever met are white women – rich and poor. I dont share your view that class covers it, but I am interested in hearing more.

  28. I just enjoyed this read (because I like bagging out rich,privileged, white twats for being overly opinionated, spoiled and out of touch – personal hobby of mine). But alas, the rule of never read the comments section on anything just kicked in. It’s always an experience somewhere between twitter-trolling and self-congratulating that leaves me with a fetid taste under the tongue.

    Shall now brush teeth

  29. I like your contribution, although I don’t agree with most of it. Just wanted to point out that using “rising tide lifts all boats” again and again as your straw man is inane. If you were just arguing against supply side economics/Chicago school fine. But you seem to be taking issue with the fundamental idea that free markets are the most powerful tool for lifting people out of poverty (ie taking issue with capitalism itself). You can’t say supply side economics bad therefore capitalism bad, and make it seem intelligent by throwing around labels and names. There are strong arguments to be made for capitalism from a humanitarian perspective – brushing over them by conflating the supply side debate with the debate over capitalism as a basic structure is a red flag to people with a grounding in economics.

  30. Razor, I read this when it was written and liked it, I reread it now and loved it. I do not believe the dead come back, but if they did, I reckon Hunter has somehow crawled into you, partly out of camaraderie and drug fucked confusion, but more likely because of the desire to spit in the eyes idiots. I say this with all the rage of a soft suburban middle, middle, off-white wog, I laughed. Not chuckled knowingly, but laughed. Bravo.

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