Lena Dunham was completely bashed on social media for her "white privilege" in making the following comment. She was at some fancy event and showed up in a tuxedo:
I was sitting next to Odell Beckham Jr., 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 standards,” she told Schumer. “The vibe was very much like, ‘Do I want to fuck it? Is it wearing a … yep, it's wearing a tuxedo. I'm going to go back to my cell phone.’ It was like we were forced to be together, and he literally was scrolling Instagram rather than have to look at a woman in a bow tie. I was like, ‘This should be called the Metropolitan Museum of Getting Rejected by Athletes.’”
People who bashed her reacted basically thus: "Hey, white lady--I know you're used to being the supposed 'beauty standard' in America, but guess what? Not everyone has to find you attractive, and you're certainly not entitled to anyone's attraction."
I get it... somewhat. Of course no one is entitled to anyone else's attraction. And of course Dunham was making an assumption about someone she didn't know. Maybe Beckham Jr. was having a bad day, or responding to an important text, or about to beat his best Scrabble score and wanted to concentrate. Calling out a specific person for being a misogynist based on just that encounter is awfully premature.
And yet, I think I understand where Dunham is coming from. As a woman who doesn't meet mainstream feminine beauty standards--pretty much ever--I can't tell you how horrible and demoralizing and irritating it is to be summarily dismissed by men simply because they don't find me attractive. I can't count the number of times I've been sitting at a table with feminine women and had the men at the table completely and rudely ignore me while chatting up the other women.
Nor am I alone in this. Butch friends' anecdotes and empirical research suggest that on average, men care more about impressing women whom they find attractive than about impressing women they find unattractive. And we're not just talking about single men, or men of a certain age, or men who are looking for a date. (No, of course not all men typify this pattern, but it is a pattern nonetheless.)
To me, Dunham's comment was much less about white privilege than it was about being invisible to men when you don't look the way a woman is "supposed" to look. I agree that it was very uncool of her to publicly call out a specific person and ascribe negative motives to him when she didn't know what was going through his head. But I think the bulk of the anti-Dunham comments are completely missing the point: women are "seen" or ignored based on their gender performance, and this pattern is incredibly frustrating.
Gear I Like