The Fantasy of Lena Dunham

After reading through many news websites, papers, and magazines, I’m a bit tired of seeing Lena Dunham’s face plastered everywhere. I’m tired not because there’s anything wrong with the young lady; I don’t have any personal animosity toward her. I’m tired because the exaltation of young actresses to the status of “feminist leaders,” “generational representatives,” and spokeswomen for the youth culture has reached an intolerable level and bodes ill for future of our country.

It all started of course with the Dunham ad back in the campaign of 2012 when the HBO actress from Girls likened voting for Obama to having sex for the first time. The ad struck a nerve with me not only because of its overt sexualization, but because of its use of a young woman to promote the ideology of a political machine that she probably doesn’t really understand. It bothered me because Dunham and the posse of actresses and leaders from feminist organizations that splashed across the airways in support of the reelection of Obama reminded me, eerily, of the writers, artists, and leaders of women’s organizations from the days of Bolshevik Russia and Nazi Germany.

In both Russia and Germany, women (and children) were used to promote totalitarian ideology. In both countries, the women’s liberation movement was well underway (though both taking different tones with the roles of women and what that liberation entailed). Women wanted emancipation economically, socially, politically, and sexually. The regimes were willing to accommodate and even facilitate the goals of feminists wherever they intersected with the goals of communism or socialism.

As a result, women began to see their personal liberation inextricably tied to participation in party organizations and to the promotion of party propaganda. For women who had never possessed much power politically or economically, this new status had an empowering and emancipatory effect. Their relation to the totalitarian state became, as a result, somewhat symbiotic. The Bolsheviks and the Nazis both exploited the idealistic interests of women in order to promote their regimes. In turn, women used the system to further their “liberation” of sexual and economic freedom as well as political power (which was never actually realized).

While women did fare better economically, to a degree, and had educational and political opportunities they never had before, they were still tools of the regimes. Stalin and Hitler weren’t interested in promoting women’s interests; they were interested in solidifying statist ideology. The “New Woman” of the liberation movement was not really a free, independent individual. Her desires were always subordinate to the needs of the state whether she realized it or not. 

The use of women (and youth) in Russia and Germany led to forced membership in state organizations that promoted totalitarian propaganda, controlled education, state-determined work, and even forced sterilization and abortions (or in the case of Germany, outlawed birth control and abortions for citizens deemed worthy to reproduce for the sake of the motherland and the promotion of Aryan society).

History is replete with the atrocities of both of these regimes and they don’t need to be repeated here, but the point is that many women who claimed to stand for liberation and freedom of opportunity substantially gave up those ideals to become tools of the state, which in turn promised them “liberation and opportunity.” Because women were making more money, had better divorce laws, could vote, and exercised sexual liberty (all varying depending on the time and the country), they were blinded to the power and control exercised by the government over their lives and over the lives of others (which was particularly tragic in Germany). 

The point is not that women should lose their freedom and go back to less liberated times, but that they should not place the security of those freedoms in the hands of a statist regime—and they should not be willing to tolerate that same regime violating the rights of others so women’s interests can be promoted by the power of the state. Women’s rights and liberties are not based on state power; they are based on natural rights and natural law as reflected in the U.S. Constitution.

Unfortunately, Dunham and those who follow in her footsteps are relying on a statist-style regime to secure their “rights.” One example is birth control. They look to the state to sanction their sexual freedom and their right to free birth control, ignoring that this very same state is acting in a totalitarian fashion by undermining the Constitution and the religious liberties of its citizens to promote, not ultimately a woman’s right to birth control, but it’s own power over the electorate.

In this way, Dunham and all the women who support Obama because he has promised to promote women’s interests are really handing over their constitutional liberties to an ever-expanding state that is only using them to cement its own power. In this way, Dunham and those like her are no different than the women under Hitler and Stalin. They’re living a fantasy and selling their souls for promises of liberty and security that in the end are only guarantees of tyranny and misery.