The interweb collectively rolled its eyes today as Lena Dunham said yet another disputable statement, this time in regards to abortion.
During a segment in her pre-recorded podcast Women of The Hour, Dunham explored her own internalization of the abortion stigma in our society (found at the 14:30 mark). Dunham has never had an abortion. However, her defensive response to someone’s insinuation that she might have had one, made her recognize her own stigma around the issue:
Sounds harmless, right? Until Dunham added, “Now I can say that I still haven’t had an abortion, but I wish I had.”
Cue the thought pieces.
Surely Lena Dunham knows better than to compare the experience of having an abortion to obtaining a goal she envisioned on her dream board? In the tweeted words of one respondent,
But let’s just say Dunham’s point wasn’t to be controversial (redundant, I know). Perhaps her point was that if we really are to create a space where there is no stigma associated with the choice to have an abortion, we need to stop looking at abortions as undesirable things. In fact, we need to do the opposite of that. We need to start thinking of abortions as things we want.
I’ll leave you to go into Dunham’s mind and explore that one. But instead, let’s explore the many other reasons why Dunham’s statement was problematic.
First of all, Dunham’s comments come at a time with the Trump administration is threatening to take away birth control options for women. One of the master arguments pushed by the conservative right is that women flippantly use abortions as birth control and that abortion is an industry is trying to monopolize on women’s vulnerabilities to gain profit. Dunham’s poor choice of words was indeed flippant and feeds into this deeply troubling argument that women put no thought into their reproductive decisions.
The reality is that many women who get abortions are incredibly aware of this dilemma. Only 34% of women feel that the decision to have an abortion is an easy one to make (though virtually none regret their decision after having made it). Even more so, there is a sizable percent who find this decision to be emotionally and mentally difficult. Religion, culture and socioeconomic status are some of the many pressing issues that play into a woman’s decision to have a procedure (or not). In fact, it is the pressures other people place on women facing this decision which can often lead to shame or distress. While Dunham may not have these same concerns, it seems a bit insensitive to wish oneself an abortion without considering the gravity of the experience for many women. Not to mention the entire procedure itself just doesn’t seem that pleasant or desirable.
Still, if there’s one good thing that comes out of yet another infamous Lena Dunham verbal blunder, it’s that we are having an enlightening abortion conversation.
Touché, Lena Dunham, Touché.