Lena Dunham: My feminism shouldn’t ‘be picked apart’ for Uncle Terry photos

Lena Dunham

Lena Dunham occupies an interesting position in today’s pop culture world. When she first blew onto the scene, I’ll admit to being bothered by her smug, hipster attitude. As time has worn on, Lena’s come to symbolize how owning one’s less-than-perfect body is an empowering thing. She also — unlike Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez, and Courtney Stodden — understands the definition of feminism.

Now Lena has found herself in a Twitter-bound mess. It all started out so well because she was speaking out against Lady Gaga’s recent video collaboration (directed by Terry Richardson) with R Kelly. You know, the same R Kelly who preys upon underage girls on a regular basis. During the rant, Lena referred to the photoshoot wherein she posed for Terry Richardson in VMag. That was a typically suggestive shoot for Uncle Terry. At the time, I wondered why Lena would have subjected to herself to such treatment. Here’s Lena’s rant where she tries to explain everything:

There’s no denying that Lena does have a point with what she’s saying about R Kelly. No arguments there. I do have to wonder how Lena can explain her association with the the revolting Uncle Terry as “one PR experience.” It’s not only a matter of the V mag shoot.

Lena has also posed in Terry’s home studio, and there are social ties between them as well. Lena’s BFF, Audrey Gelman, acted as Terry’s official girlfriend for three years. Audrey was Lena’s inspiration for Girls‘ Marnie character, and she and Lena have been super tight for many years. Since Terry and Audrey only announced their breakup last week, it’s hard to imagine Lena never socially hung out with her best friend’s boyfriend. Maybe Lena never liked Terry and only tolerated him for her friend. I’m just saying, there is some distortion of the truth here. Lena knows Terry on closer terms than her claim of a PR necessity would reveal. Despite what Miley says, Uncle Terry does not empower women at all. Feminism and Terry do not go together.

Lena Dunham

Lena Dunham


Photos courtesy of V Mag & Terry Richardson’s revolting blog

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

70 Responses to “Lena Dunham: My feminism shouldn’t ‘be picked apart’ for Uncle Terry photos”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. T.fanty says:

    I think that the most revealing part of the whole thing is Lena’s tweet “you do not learn to say no overnight.” I think she gets that the criticism is valid, and is taking ownership of it. I respect her for standing up now.

    • MissMoody says:

      Yeah that was a good line. And the criticism is valid but at least she’s not defending him. I half-expected something along of the lines of “..but..but…but…he’s an artist!”
      Sidebar: Who the hell was this gf of 3 years? And how low is her self-esteem? There’s no way Terry hasn’t been perving around for the past 3 years

    • Sloane Wyatt says:

      T. Fanty, I don’t give Lena ANY credit. She KNEW about Terry before she ever posed for him. She SAW the repellent ‘old terry tumbler’.

      Only NOW is Lena distancing herself from this criminally disgusting pig and only because their close association hurts her brand’s bottom line.

      • Jackie Jormp Jomp (formerly Zelda) says:

        OR she grew up and understood that it isn’t cool, despite what she had thought before. Which is pretty much exactly what she was saying.
        I HATE Lena Dunham, but all she did here was admit her previous attempts to be cool about Terry Richardson were misguided.

      • T.fanty says:

        I think that’s equally fair. I’m choosing to see it differently. Lena is middle-level famous, and she could either lose weight or go the Melissa McCarthy “fat girl” route, and she isn’t opting for either of those. She did what she needed to do to get famous and now is trying to stand up for something. Put her next to Beyoncé or Gaga, who do have alternatives and endorse predators, and Dunham looks good.

        Maybe it says something about how low the bar is that I’m willing to defend her.

      • Faye says:

        I’m with you, @Sloane Wyatt. It’s one thing if she’d had that shoot years and years before everyone knew what Terry Richardson is about. But she collaborated with him fairly recently, and after his preying on, sexual harassment, and borderline sexual assault on women was known. A self-proclaimed “feminist” doesn’t get a pass on that from me when she’s not even willing to outright condemn him now.

        I saw a picture of her at a recent party posing with him and smiling it up – so that doesn’t sound like someone who has learned from her mistakes.

      • LAK says:

        I understand both sides of the argument. On the one hand, she probably knew and understood all about Uncle Terry, but she needed to do something that would help her on the fame ladder. Many of them do it.

        Once she doesn’t need Uncle Terry anymore, she can shoot him down. At least she’s owning why she did it.

        With regards having a BFF with an intolerable SO, i’ve been there. We actively avoided the intolerable SO and to this day will not acknowledge him even though he is long gone.

      • queenfreddiemercury says:

        I’m going to agree with Jackie Jormp Jomp. I still dislike her but I think people in showbiz (especially women) get pressured to do things that that they don’t want to do. It’s a shady business. I’m happy she’s saw the light. And is speaking out better late than never.

        Terry is one of the sickest and most powerful dudes around. He’s worked with just about everyone. He’s directed a few of Beyonce’s new videos. Lady Gaga and Miley videos and shot just about everyone. So again the more people speak out about him the better.

      • gefeylich says:

        Jesus Christ, this chick wants it ALL WAYS. Dude, you say you hate fashion, you know you look like ass when designers dress you like a sofa again and again, tweeting afterward “HA HA it was a JOKE,” and yet you go to runway shows and befriend designers AND CONSTANTLY WEAR THEIR EXPENSIVE BESPOKE CLOTHES. Schizoid.

        And now you say that you think pigs like R. Kelly and Richardson are, like, pigs, and yet you happily posed for Richardson and are now calling it “something I did before I knew how to say “no” EVERYBODY LET UP OK?”

        Look, either you’re a feminist who truly doesn’t give a crap about how you look and wouldn’t associate with known male douchebags, or you’re not. Make a damn choice. You ARE supposed to be “the voice of your generation” and a “new role model for today’s young women.” Right now you just look like a “supreme waffler who does whatever she damn pleases & everybody else can go f**k themselves.”

  2. Aussie girl says:

    Why do they all have to put on his fucking stupid classes?? That is all.

  3. QQ says:

    Wait wait wait *screech on 22s* THIS GUY IS DATING A GIRL In her what? 20s? Of Fucking course… UGH (I wish you could see my gasface)

    So yeah Bullshit on that Lena, but at least you made some sort of statement considering that now liking R.Kelly and his sex songs to children is in, hip, ironic, and kistchy or some such

  4. CTgirl says:

    I just wish that the press wouldn’t report on Lena Dunham. She has a self important attitude that annoys. That being said, we all make mistakes and one media mistake shouldn’t define someone.

  5. Marigold says:

    Um, yes, Lena, it should be. At least a little. Especially since you’re downplaying something that was much bigger than PR. Also, just come out and call Terry a sick pig. That’s what he is. Say it. You’ll get a little respect from me if you don’t surround your criticism of his actions with fluff.

  6. Kiddo says:

    What I’m saying to myself,”It’s toothpaste, it’s toothpaste!”; way TOO early for that.

  7. Cazzee says:

    I can’t stand Lena Dunham (see under: smugness) but her tweeted comments show that she regrets that Richardson photo shoot, understands the implications of what she did, and wouldn’t do it again. Life is for learning.

    Also, she is right about how the whole ‘hanging with the a-holes’ thing will give a girl credibility that she is edgy and cool. Maybe that’s the schtick that he offers to women who pose with him…sounds like she realizes now that she was trying really hard to be cool, which is always a mistake!

    • lisa2 says:

      We see the same thing with women that gravitate to someone like Chelsea Handler.. No not saying she is a TR or a pervert.. but just that whole hang with the a-hole or people that make racist jokes to be edgy or cool. I don’t understand that kind of desperation.

      When you are cool it is there. You don’t have to create it or gloom onto someone else to get it.
      As they say.. be the Sun not the Moon.

      • Linda says:

        I think you are being terribly unfair by mentioning Chelsea handler in this matter. Chelsea is a lot of things but to mention her in the same vein as a sexual predator is awful.

      • Hakura says:

        @Linda – Personally, I interpretted Lisa2‘s comparison differently, & she did make a note that she wasn’t saying Chelsea was a TR or pervert.

        I took it to mean that the abuse/&/or sacrifice a lot of people make in order to be with the ‘cool kids’ can involve other subjet matter. TR uses sex to exploit, where-as Chelsea uses racial/crass jokes. While that probably (& should) make people uncomfortable, too many tolerate it for the sake of their ‘cool status’, even when it’s harmful physically or emotionally.

        I’m thinking that this is possibly what Lena decided to do, for the sake of her reputation/PR.

  8. jinni says:

    The thing is she not really some powerless ingenue that just burst on the scene and can’t say no. She has had people like Judd Apatow, as well as her connected parents to help her. So she has power and clout in the form of her family and friends. She could have said no to having Terry do the shoot. So her “you do not learn to say no overnight” is not something I’m buying. Plus it wasn’t just one incident of her hanging out with him. She’s just full of it.

    • Brown says:

      Agree. She, like 99% of Hollywood, is full of shit. Do as I say, not as I do.

    • Tiffany :) says:

      She got Judd Apatow’s support after she wrote, directed, and made a short film that he enjoyed. It isn’t as if her parents hooked her up with Judd. There are all types of “levels” to the industry. It isn’t like she grew up like Goop, having Thanksgiving with Speilberg.

  9. Jennifer12 says:

    She knows she’s disappointed people; I’m one of them. Don’t stand up for something, then get caught doing the opposite. And don’t LIE about it. One PR experience, my arse.

  10. Erinn says:

    Funny how it’s only after her friend and he broke up that she’s tweeting negatively about TR.

    Friends don’t let friends date Uncle Terry.

    • jinni says:

      Exactly. I wonder how her friend feels about that first tweet that’s posted.

      “There’s still a sense that being down with the predatory behavior of guys makes you chill, a girl with a sense of humor, a girl who can hang”

      If that’s not shade towards her “friend” I don’t know what is. Or maybe Lena didn’t really see Terry as a predator until someone called her out on her connection to him. Because her behavior towards him sure does seem to indicate that.

  11. GoodNamesAllTaken says:

    Terry Richardson could play a perv on TV. He looks just like what he is. How can all these people stand him?

  12. Sloane Wyatt says:

    Lena, are you FKM? In what hipster universe is it feminist to have toothpaste froth dripping down your chin like a ‘facial’?

    Girl, you’re advancing the cause SO MUCH by posing for Terry the Date Rape Druggist of underage models and homeless girls. Clearly, Dunham, your privilege allows you to assume the mantle of irony by sitting on the perv’s lap.

    Ed note: I had to delete the link, it was to adult material. Just google “old Terry tumblr” if you want to see it, but no links ok?

  13. marina says:

    Meanwhile, she allowed a woman to basically be raped on her show. Whatevs. Those glasses probably have cooties.

    I still predict, that in five years, she will be skinny, like everyone else in Hollywood. The one photo in the chair was obviously photoshopped to death. No way her thighs are that smooth.

    Go away, now. You are totally full of sh*t.

    • Tiffany :) says:

      I have seen the show and don’t remember a woman being “basically” raped on it. Are you suggesting it was a story line you felt uncomfortable with? Or are you saying that an actress was in danger during taping?

      • marina says:

        Adam and Natalia.

      • Tiffany :) says:

        I remember that scene, I actually thought it was a good one. I think that it is important for women to discuss situations like what happened in that scene. It has been a while, but if I remember correctly, the woman took a stand and said that she wasn’t into the dark tone/treatment that she was receiving (crawling and aiming for her face, right?). She was up for some kink but he was going way over the line and she said she wouldn’t have it. (I thnk I remembered thinking that she stood up against him, but Hannah wouldn’t have in the same situation).

        I don’t think that a screenwriter writing uncomfortable storylines makes one less of a feminist. I think uncomfortable situations and horrible actions are necessary in storytelling so in order to start conversations. To use an example in order to better explain what I mean, an episode about date rape isn’t necessarily advocating date rape, it can also serve as a warning about it.

  14. Plyte says:

    I don’t have a formed opinion on her, enough to say anything, but is it just me or she looks a lot like Mariska Hargitay in the header picture? I’m not happy about that, really.

  15. Hannah says:

    “Girl Power! Here I am posing without pants on!”

  16. Faye says:

    I don’t give her a pass on it, as I said above. However, in regards to Terry Richardson, I wish more pressure was brought on the editors of Vogue, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, etc. who continue to give Terry work. Not only that, they honor him at fashion parties, hobnob with him, etc. The same editors and fashionistas who pimp out their politics in practically every issue in the name of “women’s rights” have no problem glorifying a known sexual harrasser and possible rapist. It defies belief.

    • missminute says:

      The only thing that defies belief is that a man can be called a “predator” with absolutely no evidence or conviction. Not even the statements on record indicate rape or harassment.

  17. Latisse says:

    God, I call BS. She is so ready to call out R. Kelly as EVERYONE should. But explains away her association with Terry with that vague statement. Let’s presume that she didn’t know about pervy Terry beforehand. Why not call him out now as explicitly as she called out R. Kelly.

    Why not say, I made a mistake, he is a pervert and creep and doesn’t deserve to have access to young girls, I will never associate myself with him again. Why not? Because her feminism only serves to be touted when it is CONVENIENT for her.

    When it comes to taking a feminist stance that might have unsavory repercussions on her career, forget about it.

  18. judyjudy says:

    That tooth brushing picture seriously grosses me out.

  19. pretty says:

    my only experience(?) with this Lena Dunham person had been through this blog’s posts but i recently started watching GIRLS and i really really love it! i’ve only done watching season 1 but wow i think the show is great. she is obviously very talented. but i don’t see any smugness comiing out of her. and good for her for those tweets!

  20. littlestar says:

    All I have to say is that I’m glad there’s at least one celebrity out there calling out that horrific monster R. Kelly.

  21. Dani says:

    Just because it was ‘one pr mistake’ doesn’t mean she gets a pass and can pick on others. Can’t stand her smug, over entitled, hipster shit. She’s just a rich girl who had her parents help her out. I bet anything that if she didn’t have that first kick, we wouldn’t even know who she is today.

  22. Maria says:

    White feminism at its best; R Kelly is a pig, so is Richards.

    She gets no credit for admitting to learning, she’s had three years and is connected, she knew better.

    I’ve never liked Lena since tweeting she felt radically emo while wearing a burqa; she can blow me along with her “picked apart feminism” which is empowering only to women who share her skin tone and class.

    • The Girl Who Would Be King Of The Popes says:

      To quote Patsy Stone, ‘Pretty accurate so far’. Glad I wasn’t the only one thinking that her weighing of rapists against rapist didn’t balance out.

  23. MsAubra says:

    Not sure who this guys is, why he so famous, and why everyone creams their crotches to do shoots with him, so I am sure he will be “out of style” in 2014.

    The emo feminism that seemed to be ignited by the likes of Naomi Wolf and others is simply a huge yawn to me.

  24. Ginger says:

    I don’t watch her show but I’ve read enough about her to know she is trying to further the feminist cause through her writing and acting. And I also know that she does receive a fair amount of criticism and praise for her actions. So here’s what I have to say about her Terry Richardson photo shoot: “Her feminism shouldn’t be picked apart” YES. IT. SHOULD.

    This is what happens when you work with a known pornographer. You can’t have it both ways my dear.

    • InvaderTak says:

      Well said. To borrow a phrase from rhett Butler, she’s like the thief who’s not the least bit sorry they stole, but is terribly sorry they are going to jail.

    • JWQ says:

      To me the problem is not that he’ s a pornographer. If a woman (or a man) in her right state of mind and of legal age is fine with being photographed in explicit sexual acts, naked or being touched by him, it’ s fine. I don’ t like it, I would never do it, and I would prefer for it not to happen at all, but it is her choice, and if it’ s not a problem for her, know what she’ s doing and is fine with it, it is acceptable. The problem with him is that he manipulates young and gullible girls for his own personal fetish, pleasure and success, and that is a rape. He probably threatens them to do what he says because he’ s a famous photographer and lots of actresses and singers do what he says, which means that you, nameless model, should do it as well in order to get a career advancement. Which is terrible!

  25. j.eyre says:

    I do like the line about not learning to say no overnight. But she does not denounce having promoted Richardson’s work nor actually state she regrets those collaborations.

    I appreciate her point but without coming down on either side, she is not supporting her stance that her feminism should not be held to one “PR experience.” She is still hedging her bets and asking us to look the other way so she can make her point about R. Kelly. And I would give her credit for a change of heart or enlightenment but again, on her last tweet she puts it out there “that’s always.” So is she admitting she posed for a person that sickened her?

    It is stronger than most people have gone on this and I like that she poked her head out of the door. But I am not letting her off the hook.

  26. Irishserra says:

    Mmmmmmnope…. Still not buying it Lena. Back to the drawing board.

  27. Dreamyk says:

    Sorry, Lena. Uncle Terry has been doing his misogynistic schtick for a very long time. You knew who he was, what he does and you decided to endorse his disgusting behavior by posing for him anyway.

    I will never understand why any woman would pose for him. Ever.

  28. Anna says:

    Ugh I can’t stand Lena. Watching her show is horrifying and she has a history of doing/saying incredibly offensive things about minorities, women and “3rd world countries”.

  29. GIRLFACE says:

    In Lena I see a bigger problem with the particular brand of hipster, self-entitled “feminism” that is coming out of the woodwork. I have friends who subscribe to this. Somehow the word ‘feminism’ has been subsumed into hipster culture, which is totally fake and as a consequence, the meaning of the word has lots its authenticity. Terry Richardson is part of the problem of this new culture’s innate hypocrisy and dim-wittedness. Hipster culture thanks to Urban Outfitters and drunk college students on Pinterest everywhere, has become a dilute parody of itself. I remember when “indie” culture was coming into being in the mid 90’s through early 00’s… it was birthed of grunge, post-punk and other 80’s subcultures. Feminism used to mean protests. It used to mean zines. It used to mean kids with no money writing congressmen and standing in doorways, refusing to move. t used to mean kids with no money reading Naomi Wolf books from the library and analytically dissecting them in pamphlets they printed at Kinko’s with their Christmas money that they distributed on campus for free. It used to mean activism. Now there is a disgusting, nascent definition of ‘hipster’ that applies to kids with rich parents who weren’t always afraid of the machine but had to make a choice at some crux in their lives whether they would live a life of rejection or pretend that art mattered to them. They don’t stand for anything but Facebook likes. Lena Dunham is one such product of a wealthy family and in my opinion, is a harbinger of the uptown hipster; which has been such a miserable disgrace to witness in contrast to the poor, hairy, stinky, self-screen printing, self-sufficient, truly independent, forward thinking, truly progressive, hipsters out there. She is a glossy affront of a cultural movement that is forever lost. That’s why I don’t like her. She is driving the bandwagon that dull women with leggings are jumping on all over the country without knowing why except that they are bored and want attention. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, you are not a feminist until you actively do something about women’s rights.

  30. abbizmal says:

    I watched Girls once and was not impressed. Girls is not interesting and not funny. I just don’t get all the hoopla and awards. Clearly, money does buy a lot. And Uncle Terry? I can take better pictures than any he has and I don’t know shit about photography.

    PS – I’m not so sure that is toothpaste. Could be something really nasty.

  31. Huh says:

    You are so rude to post that to someone else, sun, you really are.

    Lena is problematic for me, and I do think that while she on a certain level is a feminist and has to some degree made her own fortune, I also think that she cannot appreciate her numerous advantages, that her talent is overrated, and that she is on a certain level lying about TR and ‘PR experience.’ She has been part of a self-satisfied group of ‘artistic elites’ for years now, and there is NO WAY on this green earth that she did not know that her BFF’s long-term boyfriend has been accused of predatory behavior up to and including assault against less-advantaged (…but traditionally much more attractive), vulnerable, young women. I think Lena is very much trapped in the cult of the body and probably has a disconnect with imagining that fashion models are real people too and can be abused, but that’s just IMO.

    R. Kelly is predatory. So is Terry Richardson. And Lena Dunham is horribly defensive about her relationship with him, and is likely lying right now to support her best girlfriend. It’s not a good look. Her feminism to be is “I do what I want, and whinge when it doesn’t work for me,” which is an interesting version of feminism.

  32. Observer says:

    I can’t with the infantilizing.
    “I didn’t know any better boohoo, still learning…” – You are an adult ffs! You should know better by know. I’m sorry but it’s so annoying when women (with privilege) do this.
    I’m glad she called out the disgusting pervert R.Kelly but really, she could have done the same with Terry without the whole “I’m just a little girl who didn’t know any better, I was pressured”
    Bitch please.
    The little girl act is so off putting, especially coming from a grown woman.

  33. Han says:

    terrys ex defended lena, she tweeted that lena tried to see the good she saw in terry and that they both regret it.

  34. mutterhals says:

    Oh my god, this bitch here with her fat arms.

  35. CR says:

    I love every woman (and guy) on this site who is posting about how gross that predator Uncle Terry is–and how not cool it is for Lena Dunham to have associated with him for so long. Seriously–thank you for standing up for women everywhere. Power to the people!!!

  36. Jennifer12 says:

    Here’s what really upset me: after reading this, I googled Terry Richardson. Amongst his revolting pictures of women looking like deer in headlights, kind of warily game, like, what just happened with their chests and privates exposed and his pervert self swinging naked beside them…. amongst all this were photos of the president. Obama posed for him.

  37. Lohola says:

    ughhhh…seriously…the woman is just 27yrs old…I don’t care how mature you think are or were when you were in your 20’s you’re still figuring it out. Even if you don’t relate to her show, she’s a woman in the media trying to do something different and started the process at an extremely young age. How old was Angelina when she was married to Billy Bob?…He’s a total a**hole too. Eventually she figured it out. I can think of times when I was younger and bought into some older guys sh*t when I shouldn’t have, and even more times when I had to watch my friend date someone and hold my tongue for fear that I would inadvertently push them closer together. I can’t think of anything more anti-feminist than degrading another woman’s feminism especially when she seems to be actively willing to learn and adjust her perspective and doesn’t seem to fear open discussion of she’s projecting as a public figure…Call her on things, definitely, but discredit completely her for making mistakes even though she’s willing to cop to them…seems counterproductive…I don’t know I just get upset with the viciousness and low blows that women have quite frankly been trained to throw at each other. The patriarchy as it is doesn’t even need to work to exist, we do the work for it.

    • Observer says:

      “Just” 27!? At what point in our lives do we stop blaming it on age? Look, evidence of Terry’s disgusting perv act was everywhere, there is no way Lena could have missed it.
      I feel like if we keep blaming it on age no one will ever take responsibility for their shit.
      Don’t get me wrong, I am glad she’s learned from her mistake but my god….I mean, there were (and are) images of Terry and his past EVERYWHERE.
      Especially since I feel a lot of women do this whole “lost girl” act when they have to own up to their shit.
      I give her credit for calling out R.Kelly though and hopefully she’s learned something from the Terry incident.
      And I disagree with you, I absolutely believe we should be able to criticize other women’s feminism….heck, that’s how you learn right!?

      • Lohola says:

        I say just 27 meaning that when she entered this crazy biz that she’s in she was in her early 20’s. Also, at the bottom of my comment I said that yes we should call on things and the impression that I get from her is that she would rather that we did. I As far as putting up with or collaborating with Terry, I can kind of see how you could get wrapped up in that bullsh*t…your friend is dating this guy, you’ve been in the art scene since college where there is all sorts of “art” like this going on, your contemporaries are all posing for him-including highly respected artists and politicians, and you are still low man on the totem pole in your chosen profession, I can see why it would take you awhile to have the confidence to be to speak up about things and really be able to see though the crap…I just think this woman takes a lot of undue sh*t and especially from other women…Forgive me I just watched the film Missrepresentation again recently it makes me a little sensitive to female on female slagging