Modern Feminism: Scarier Than Halloween

By Heather Wilhelm Published on October 29, 2015

Hey, America, have you heard? Lena Dunham — the creator of a not-very-popular, vaguely depressing HBO show, abortion enthusiast, hoarder of various potentially destructive sexual and psychological hang-ups and someone who most normal, well-adjusted Americans have never even heard of — is “the voice of a generation!”

It sounds strange, but it must be true, because the media has told us this approximately five hundred times in the past three years. Here are a few examples:

“Dunham may be the voice of a generation of women,” Rolling Stone, April 13, 2012

“Lena Dunham has captured her generation’s story,” Vanity Fair, February 2013

“Lena Dunham: A Generation’s Gutsy, Ambitious Voice,” Time, September 24, 2014

“Dunham is the voice of a generation,” Harper’s Bazaar, October 15, 2015

Honestly, I keep dreaming that one day, I’ll never have to write about Lena Dunham again. Alas, she keeps popping up in the national consciousness, usually after spouting some appalling, wing-nut idea, and then mysteriously gaining swaths of media praise. She’s like a quietly desperate, mascaraed Donald Trump, shrunk down to five foot three and clothed in a nightmarish burgundy sweater with the female reproductive system emblazoned across the chest.

That sweater, by the way, is all too real: Dunham recently wore it to a Los Angeles Planned Parenthood benefit, where she “spontaneously” auctioned it off, raising $4000 for everyone’s favorite taxpayer-funded organization by selling what may be the ugliest sweater in the universe. Then, in true Dunham style, she stripped down to her bra onstage, took a close-up bra selfie — a close-up bra selfie, readers and promptly shared it with her 2.1 million Instagram followers around the world. It’s like an absurdist parody of early 21st century life, except less realistic and a little less fun.

Lest you think this is all a hoax or a fluke, this week, Hearst publications announced an advertising and distribution partnership with — you guessed it — Lena Dunham. With the deal, Dunham’s new “feminist” e-mail newsletter, Lenny, will be promoted throughout Hearst’s women’s magazines, which will in turn spread her brand of supposedly fresh, fun feminism to a largely unsuspecting readership. Not the reading type? Dunham, who recently interviewed Hillary Clinton for her newsletter, also has a new podcast, Women of the Hour, in partnership with Buzzfeed.

What makes up this glorious brand of feminism that the media’s been buzzing about since 2012? It pretty much boils down to one word: abortion. Feminist abortion fandom is nothing new, of course: Gloria Steinem just dedicated her new memoir, for instance, to the doctor who gave her an illegal abortion in 1957.

This modern strain of feminism, however, seems to be all biology, all the time, paired with a stunning willful ignorance as to how actual biology — or life in general — actually works. Dunham’s eye-burning uterus sweater, in this light, served as the perfect visual distillation of her brand of modern “feminist” politics. It’s a cult of sorts, reducing women into walking, helpless reproductive systems. Planned Parenthood, meanwhile, is the spooky, rickety middle-of-nowhere trailer where the cult keeps its headquarters, plus all the handcuffs and Kool-Aid.

So it is that we have Leora Tanenbaum, a senior writer and editor for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America — modern feminism’s strange new mothership — sharing her parenting wisdom by defending slutty preteen Halloween costumes in the New York Times. (The true problem, she notes, are “larger sexist forces at play.”) So it is that we have Lena Dunham, after months of undercover videos exposing the brutal realities of Planned Parenthood’s abortion factories, cheerfully announcing her “newsy, sexy, and cool” Halloween costume for this year: “a Planned Parenthood doctor!”

Well, to be fair, the idea is suitably terrifying. But really, Lena Dunham: What is it about those doctors that make them “newsy, sexy, and cool”? Is it “newsy, sexy, and cool” to give a Pap smear or STD test? There are thousands upon thousands of other equally accessible community health clinics that do this for low-income women. Is it “newsy, sexy, and cool” to offer mammograms? If so, too bad: Planned Parenthood, as the nation recently learned, doesn’t offer mammograms.

It’s pretty easy to guess what Dunham really thinks is “newsy, sexy, and cool,” of course: It’s the dismantling of tiny humans, which also happens to be a specialty of Planned Parenthood. This week, another Center for Medical Progress undercover video dropped. It is clear and straightforward, showing a Planned Parenthood abortion doctor from Austin, Texas, describing how to best dismember 20-week old unborn humans. Laughter erupts amidst the casual banter about yanking out heads, spines and limbs.“It’s amazing,” the abortionist says, discussing a colleague’s habit of fishing hearts out of 9-week-old fetal remains. “I have so much respect for development, it’s just incredible.”

Well, something’s certainly incredible, but it isn’t any “respect for development.” How strange that an organization like Planned Parenthood, which obsessively reduces human beings to body parts, has morphed into a stand-in for modern feminist empowerment. Unfortunately, unlike the macabre, over-the-top gore that comes with Halloween, this is the real thing.


Heather Wilhelm is a writer based in Austin,Texas. Her work can be found at and her Twitter handle is @heatherwilhelm.

This article originally appeared at RealClearPolitics on October 29, 2015, and is reprinted with their permission.

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