Jemima Kirke of Girls has spoken sort-of candidly about the end of her marriage, to Michael Mosberg, with whom she split in 2016. They met in rehab, were married for seven years, and have a seven year-old daughter and a five year-old son together. Jemima has said that their marriage ended due to the fact that she was acting and evaluating her goals and position in life. So she had a bad go of it, and that gives her a particular outlook on marriage, one that she’s expressing through her art. Jemima has a BA from the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design and is a painter. Her latest work involves painting women as brides looking less than thrilled. She has some interesting and controversial thoughts about marriage and about sexual assault and harassment as well. Jemima spoke to Bedford and Bowery, and she gave this interview a couple of weeks ago but someone just emailed it to me and I wanted to talk about it.
Is your opinion on marriage different now than it was when you started the series?
It’s interesting; I finished the series right when the #metoo thing started. This helped me understand what my stance is on that. I do feel like the sort of hypervigilance that social media is having on anyone who says anything—it seems like no one is allowed to have opposing views anymore. You have to believe one thing and one thing only, and there can’t be any exception to that rule. And that’s what I find very dangerous. We’re not allowed to have two things be true at once. So for these women, I can accept that some are progressive, liberal, intellectual women who want to put on a white dress.
Did you talk to your subjects about their views on marriage?
It depends. If they had been divorced, then generally people were really interested in the subject matter. But married, they didn’t really want to discuss it. My friends know me well enough to know I’m not painting you in your wedding dress because it’s beautiful. Some aren’t necessarily ready to hear my—well, not cynicism, it’s just I want to reopen the case.
Just look at it critically?
Yeah. I don’t mind anyone being anything as long as they’re not calling it something else. The two honest ways to get married are for a green card or to do a big, crazy Sean Parker wedding. Because both are sincere; one is for necessity and one is, we want to throw a party and we want you guys to look at us for the whole weekend. Those things in between are where I’m asking questions.
Going back to the #metoo: Normally there are one or two stories like this, and then it sort of fades. But the consistency with which more stories are coming forward—
I’m happy about that. What I’m not happy about is what I was saying before; people’s blanket assessment of the whole thing. Rape to sexual harassment, it’s become almost the same crime, at least on social media. And it seems that no one stands a chance, if they’re accused, of being innocent, if they are. They’re not allowed right now. And it scares me. I don’t feel bad for men, but why are we oversimplifying this? Details always matter. And occasionally, those details will reveal that someone didn’t do it, or there’s a gray area. And I understand the whole idea, we push it a little too far, and unfortunately some people are going to fall through the cracks but it’s for a greater good. We want men to realize this is a real thing.
Lena [Dunham] wrote in defense of a friend of hers. I have no opinion or understanding about whether he was guilty or not, but I do know you’re allowed to have strict principles, but make exceptions sometimes because the truth’s always in the details and she knows those details. Yes, she should not have said something. I understood it as not necessarily “Lena Dunham needs to be heard again,” more as her defending someone who was a good friend and she was in an advantageous position to help them, and she overdid it. I do not criticize her for being inconsistent.
What is she even trying to say about #metoo? She’s talking out of both sides of her mouth. Is she trying to back up her buddy Lena Dunham’s essay defending a man she knew who raped a woman she didn’t know? Is she saying Lena “knows the details” as told to her by the perpetrator, but maybe Lena shouldn’t have revealed that? Is she giving us the Matt Damon and Dave Chappelle explanation of the levels of harassment and assault, as defined by a judging outsider who rejects victims’ claims on the pretense of fairness and perceived level of abuse? Because it sure sounds like it to me. It sounds like she wants to go full Dunham but isn’t fully committing to it. Of course people understand that those are different crimes, but focusing on the nuance of it and questioning victims is not the way to go.
As for her claim that the the only honest reasons for people to get married are a party or a green card, maybe she sticks in her bubble of cynical people who look, think and act just like she does. She thinks love, commitment and devotion aren’t real or that they’re so fleeting they’re not worth marrying for. She also questions victims, but she tries to talk around that under the guise of fairness. We’ve heard that weak ass argument from so many Hollywood bros, and it’s disappointing but not surprising to hear it from the occasional actress.
— Bedford + Bowery (@bedbow) December 20, 2017
Get that swag
Embed from Getty Images
Photos credit: WENN and Getty