ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Janet Mock talks to Lena about her history of activism, dealing with public scandals, and their unlikely friendship. To hear Janet's conversations with Tina Knowles-Lawson, Maxine Waters, Rowan Blanchard, and more, subscribe to Never Before.

English
United States

TRANSCRIPT

00:00:08I'm Lena Dunham and this is my podcast women of the hour
00:00:18I want to tell you about an amazing podcast from Lenny letter called never before it's hosted by my actual real life friend Janet mock can you believe I have a friend that amazing who agrees to talk to me she's a true genius and a gem of a human woman never before an interview podcast that features radical dreaming guess who can all be neatly categorized as people I want to be when I grow up like Tina Knowles Lawson Auntie Maxine Waters Rowan Blanchard Etc and guess what this week's interview on never force with me Lena Dunham Janet have this special interview magic where she makes you open up like you never have before that project let's just say telephone number on me you'll hear me talk about my endless dream scandals my deep love for my sibling Grace and how do I craft a public apology because I've had to do that like maybe a few times so you're here that interview here now but if you want to find the rest of never before look for it on your favorite podcast app and have a listen I promise it's worth your while
00:01:22welcome to never before I'm your host Janet mock
00:01:28Chase guess has been called the poster child of white feminism a racist and classes and admitted molester and simply the worst but people who know and love her call her Lena Lena Dunham the creator of the HBO series Girls a writer and actress and an unrelenting advocate for Reproductive Rights when is also the executive producer of my show never before and my friend like laugh out loud texting daily sleepover close swapping Friends of the kind of friends who check and challenge one another so today I'll never before I have an honest conversation with me about everything every controversy ever learning moment and every apology I've always been curious about what accountability looks like when you mess up so often and so public and I go there with Lena as we discussed some of her greatest public backups like the time she perpetuated a racial stereotype about black men through the football player Odell Beckham jr. or the time she wrote about exploring her younger sibling
00:02:28nether regions where they were kids in her Memoir not that kind of girl or the time she said on her podcast women of the hour that she wished she had an abortion in order to two distinct my ties abortions I know I hope you're still listening because we get to the good she's done like her fearless work on behalf of Reproductive Rights and her desire to use her access and her white girl privilege to create more space for women stories you may even get some tips of how crafting the perfect public apology We Begin our conversation at our Beginning by talking about how she tracked me down after reading my book redefining realness
00:03:15I'm thrilled and honored and ready how do we meet I reached out to you because I had read your book and so I asked my agents for your email address how do they have it really agents know everything and so they gave me your email address and I remember you like playing hard-to-get like you definitely took like a good week and a half to answer my email and kept it real cool and then I kept emailing you and then finally you were like okay we can meet for breakfast and I remember we had breakfast at the smile and you were like are you vegetarian nose like no are you in your like great then I'll order bacon I most like this relationship is going to go great I think I think you actually DM me and I just thought it was so Random was like why is Lena Dunham do you have any me and then I felt like maybe Ashley introduce you to my work cuz I knew you both you know Ashley for you both had like a relationship and I we had a black a loving relationship to Twitter just connecting with each other screenshotting it and texting it to Aaron my husband who is my boyfriend at the time and of course he slept because Tiny Furniture was his everything
00:04:15Sam and he has kind of been like a big fan of yours more than I was I kind of was like a reluctance I die for a long time was like this white girl with his HBO show
00:04:26call I think Ashley did introduce it to me because my younger sibling Gracie you've gotten to know wizard of just entering the world of having conversations about and if she wasn't coming into their own like gender non-conforming trans identity and I said I don't feel like I fully understand it either super academic stuff or I like watch Lee Bowery videos another my only understanding of like what it means to be trans and now she's like you have to read this book and what I really came away with when I read the book was I was like oh this person is like a really brilliant women self-help Guru and the angle of like politics trans Nest identity it's all there but it's not what I was left with and I was like I just want to know her that's so sweet never be haddock a feminist dinner at your house they invited me to which was awkward actually like I thought it was so bizarre it was really bizarre way to be when it happened was it was right
00:05:26Bible came out and Grace and I have been exposed to this rid of public Scandal if you will about the idea that we were like incest us basically kind people are raped her Friday when she doesn't know neither is the case that we do sleep in the same bed fairly often so one of my friends was like why do we organize a dinner like cool radical women at your house and I kind of very quickly realized that when you bring 12 feminist together over dinner it's never just like that's all just soothe each other like everyone is coming in with a fucking agenda and then also it's Lena Dunham's house it just was like weird in that sounds like the power structure of it everyone was wondering or maybe let me just use I terms I was wondering what was everyone's angles and connections to you as women I've met online through sort of feminist dialogue and I think my instinct as a person and it's gotten me in trouble a lot as I'm not a skeptic like I am
00:06:26until proven otherwise I've had a lot of crap and I know that about you because it really took me awhile to soften you up like I remember being like I was working 9 to 5 and then the night shift trying to make you be my friend where is I am like the easiest Target and every time you every time I've seen so many times since you're always like you know we're friends right. Do you know that I really feel close to
00:06:53because I feel like sometimes I'll come in and you'll like think that I'm like kind of a business meeting like I literally just want to hang out with you I love you you're my friend it was the night before I think I did before the pilot for my show that I had with MSNBC I was like I feel like I'm on the verge of something like I'm being invited to Lena Dunham's house I have a TV show coming out I'm on the come-up
00:07:16George Opera so that's funny cuz I was like dude walked in like I remember you like I'm going to be a little late because I'm going over some stuff in my producer you like walking in the six Super Chic outfit and like I'm going to say something here that I feel comfortable saying just like I think salmon is stars are most stylish group
00:07:35National feminists are she I can give her some clothes at the party I think there is like the certain matter uniform but there's a sense of like but I think maybe an older generation thing and I've gotten to a lot of conversations around this a sense of wanting to trample down femininity in order to be taken seriously right like the point of like patriarchy exist and Spike having us run around in circles and be like let's police each other's presentation over and over again in order but like not actually really say something of substance which is the feminine he's not the issue and we would present is not the issue it's hierarchical way in which we pretend around one another but yeah the uniform at I don't wear the uniform you wear the opposite of the uniform and you and I have the edge of the most with a lot of agendas you and I were actually connecting I felt that too I did I really did but you know something I've always wondered with you Tiny Furniture how old were you when you made that sound
00:08:3523 when I made that movie and then rolls around the same time right now. I wrote girls that were made up movie in November we went to South by Southwest film festival in March sold it I was signed immediately and before my 24th birthday I had already written the pilot to Carl's and we shot girls like basically right after I turn 24 and girls just want you into this hyper visible space you were seen as an emblem of an entire generation of young women I wondered does Fame stunt you in a way that you're stuck at 24 forever and a sense that she such an incredible question that I wish someone had asked me sooner or I wish someone had told me about Sarah because it's interesting and ways I feel a hundred years old like when you take a lot of public heat I've had Publix candles around my family around my sexual assault both Publix candles around things that were and warrant a result of my own ignorance like I will take full responsibility
00:09:35ability for all the times that I like you know popped off on Twitter and didn't think about what I was saying but there was also a lot of times we're like my very identity and the core of who I was was questioned and it really like felt like being steel stuck in a fire in your made stronger I also had over the last 6 years really serious health problems cuz I have endometriosis what you think forces you when you undergo you five or six surgeries in your twenties and have the experience of your body basically revolting against you like I was on in-force menopause for 2 years I felt like I was a hundred I'd looked around another 20 some things and I felt like I remember once going to like a book fair with my dad and look at a couple who were like eating tacos and buying comics and just crying so I was like I never was that and I'll never be that and my boyfriend I will never have that experience and will never send anonymously on a corner eating tacos
00:10:28so there's the ways in which I feel wise and ready and then there's also the ways in which I feel like my friendships that I had when I was when I started the show until I finish the show this past August I didn't have any ability to look at them critically I felt like socially I was a creature trapped in Amber who would accept anybody who is interested in me a lot a lot of energetic leeches into my life because I was so at the time I didn't think I was taking it all the criticism but I felt so beaten down by at that anybody who would say to me like I like you you're a good person like I left those people in and I think it made me sicker and so was this weird combination of being like curled Apple asking for my mommy and just looking for whoever in the cafeteria wanted to sit with me and feeling like this like old Yoda figure who women would call up and be like what do I do I just accidentally said something racist online please help me and I was the person who they called so it's like those two realities exist together that makes sense it does I also wonder to the the sense of when do you know that you're an in
00:11:28spider like you start outside right like you were doing your own YouTube videos at 1st and U statues out of needed a series with your friends and then you you know then you go on to making this you know your first film and then your next film and then that launches you into this whole nother space of being the center of a show a creator of a show the whole universe and then going to being invited into the party how does it feel to be this outside invited in and so negotiating that sense of cuz I'm always I'm always worried about like this for my own census you feeling like an imposter and so many spaces and I don't know how that hits you when you're like the number one trending topic every 3 months but it's interesting because I kind of never started and ultimately realize that that was another part of the Arrested Development is like I'm still very stuck in many ways in the mentality of being like rejected at summer camp I mean to be 25 like as a kid with mental illness I was always very fit
00:12:28play sensitive and then starting at 13 I was always sick both with obsessive compulsive disorder and what I Now understand was endometriosis I would like to go to the hospital every 6 months of the horrible stomach ache no one could explain I had a lot of beer around social interactions and so we see this all the time in Hollywood backfire like the man who had pain injection as teenagers now start fucking models and making hideous business deals and crashing Maseratis my reaction was more like I don't I don't think I'll ever feel if I remember going in the first met ball and I said to my mom as long as I'm alive I've never going to feel like I'm welcome at this party I'm just not like either when I walk in and people are saying my name and I experience like Lena Lena turn this way turn that way smile do you think you're the reason Hillary Clinton lost the election in like your prescribing an awful lot of power to me that I don't have I don't experience myself that way in that has got me in trouble like the whole Odell Beckham's and came from me seeing myself as this I got your life camp
00:13:28saw myself as a fat girl at Camp just because you mentioned that Odell Beckham situation I feel we need to explain it to people who may not have been privy to one of your 400000 different controversies get it was fun texting with me every 5 minutes or 10 and up Olivia Pope that shit
00:13:48I would like this one's really bad yeah she's like oh God yeah I mean what that was was on Lenny letter which is my newsletter Amy Schumer is one of my best friends and I were having a conversation about the Met Ball and we talked about feeling like really out of place in an event that's really a fashion event and I describe sitting next to Odell Beckham and feeling like he wasn't interested in talking to me and then I sort of I projected onto him a narrative that he found me unattractive or wasn't able to engage with me because I didn't resemble like a more classic vision of female Beauty and then the internet very rightly so was like do you understand that you're contributing to I mean you can summarize is better than I can like what the internet felt it was contributing to I think a lot of the controversy was the racial Dynamics write the scent of a white woman projecting all these thoughts on to this black man right when the black man hadn't even said anything and I store Glee we know from Emmett Till all the way through that white women have proclaimed the certain narratives on to these men which
00:14:48dangerous and violent and I remember being you know as someone who cares about you deeply and loves you and whose you know tries to hold you accountable in our private space and our Sacred Space that we've created together we like oh you're not going to turn around on this on black women hair do you know it was interesting because that was the last straw I mean judging by Twitter there were a lot of black women who are done with me already and then that happened and it was like double done and I didn't feel like a victim but I felt sorry and I felt like I really owed it to people to not just give the apology but didn't do the research the layers are which people can read it to like a lot of folk can look at that conversation between the two of you and laugh and then a lot of people can be horrified and I always think about how the ways in which we come to these certain experiences and you know cultural pieces so differently right
00:15:48defend me from something like that but what I've had to stay with gratitude with Clarity is like I don't experience that as a comfort I experience. Like I'm not doing my job because I haven't properly educated my audience about the issues that are essential I don't want to be let off the hook by a bunch of white girls my age so that the space in which Lenny letter came from is at the platform and what she wanted to launch it started because on my book tour I was really moved by the audience who came and talked to me about their problems and I was also fucking bummed cuz it was all white girls and I was like I'm talking about experiences that are Universal sexual rejection misogyny rape being harassed by a teacher in 5th grade being physically and emotionally abused by her boyfriend those are white experiences those are female experiences whether your transmitter your sass weather White whether you're black and so today and see that the audience that I was attracting really looked like the girls on my show give her take some pink hair so your first interaction
00:16:48actually seen what your audience looks like a hundred percent for the whole time I've been behind a camera in a studio in Queens I had no idea so when people are like no one cares about this who is in a white girl I was like who knows we didn't know so when I got there and I looked at my audience I felt grateful to have this full room and a sinking sickness that I had not done my job and after that I thought if Jenny and I can't take what we've created and bring in more voices and use the system that have elevated me to elevate other people then all of this will have been for nothing and I think what is hard is that when I look at an issue of Lenny letter I feel proud because every single week There's diversity of sexuality there's diversity of race there's diversity of class we're trying to tell really complicated stories about women that have often been buried in history but a lot of people are never going to come to that because of their associations with me and so there are times I wish I could poop Myself Away
00:17:48and let the staff of lightning in the work that they do speak for themselves because it hurts to think that these amazing women who have chosen to share their stories with us won't get as many listeners and leaders as they deserve because of an association with me I want people who think I'm a fucking piece of shit just don't understand that Lenny letter is a safe place for them what part of you cares why do you care so that's the one thing I feel like a lot of people who don't know you and who aren't in life with you don't understand that piece of you that care so much there's like a deep investment and ensuring that folk are included or heard and wanting to be seen it not like you know justify any of the public Miss steps in the steaks that you've made what you rightfully owned up to but there is a part of you doesn't have bleeding heart Progressive liberal who like wants everyone to feel included where it what part of where did that come from and you are in your own experience
00:18:48I think few things one as I was raised in a really liberal community and then your car will just super white Community but it's a community that has a strong investment and making sure people stories are heard my mother was live through civil rights movement and Vietnam and you know it was protesting her face off before Roe v Wade and like those are values that we were raised with but it's like I also think when you feel disenfranchised does a young person that like you can go 2 ways you can grow up and become a fucking bully or you can grow up and feel a really really strong need to not see other people suffer that way it's not like I'm like think of myself as like some Angel who wants everybody to have a chance clearly I'm like very almost selfishly devoted to my own work into my own voice into my own style but it really really matters to me that mine's not the only voice like but I also have always wanted to be really careful that I didn't try to project I didn't try to seem like I was like making up for my sins by
00:19:48you know bringing everyone like perform wokeness or perform know cuz people are smart you know they would get it if I was like on my fucking Twitter like a bunch of Haitian children and a black lives matter poster like I'd be so whack so all you can do is put it into action and remember your first political action you ever took not not as Lena Dunham but I just like lowercase a lowercase Lena my mom was a group part of a group of women's Action Coalition which was like an organ twak which was an organization of downtown women that included
00:20:21Cindy Sherman Marilyn Minter Elizabeth Marie Louise Lawler Laurie Anderson a lot of a lot of gas white women it was not a diverse group but it was a passionate group and one of the things that they did was they were protesting they wanted to put in a coned plant on the end of the block where the Fruit Stand with me so I walked around with my mom and my sister a stroller with a sign that said don't read and I remember just being like psyched cuz it was cool and all my friends were there and like it just felt important and then a few times of my mother took me to a lot of reproductive Justice protest and then in high school I was like really vegan so I put a lot of signs up that we're like meat is murder Darius Rave like reject whatever like I was so annoying like I don't blame anyone for my friend and I also put a stop to a water gun game does having drop the school because I felt it mimics the violence in Iraq and everybody was like we hate you like there's a water gun game of the big Financial pool or if you want you
00:21:21thousand bucks and I went to the principal and I was like you think this is like really the word triggering didn't exist. You think this is really dark for people considering the violence happening in Iraq and like even the principles like you fucking loser but then all the water guns got taken away and strung up across the lobby and I was a horrible tattletail like a boy recently tweeted at me and was like you're the reason that I went to rehab for six months because you told the principal I was on drugs are for something I didn't do that. I might have only done that like I was a fucking tattletail Janet so my political act involves a lot of tattling happens when is a whistle-blower and annoying
00:22:01what was your first political act as a public person think that my first real political act as a public person was the PSA that I made for Obama in 2012 which was comparing voting to losing your virginity and I wrote it along with his campaign staffers and they shot it and Judd Apatow's office in LA and it came out I remember staying up all night just reading these like comments that were just like Lena Dunham is making a mockery of the American democracy she's treating voting like it's sax this is disgusting this is Despicable by the night time the night was over here like 10 million views like I was not prepared and I remember I had just come from like my friend's house where there was literally an orgy going on and like she's like for anyone who doesn't like my PSA you should also know that I just got up out of a pile of lesbians and I'm fucking wasted like I just like went for it because like I just got out of a pile of lesbians and I'm ready to party and like everyone's just like shut up
00:23:01Santa be like politics I was just like how could what I said offend anybody but I was also personally didn't understand what the Dixie Chicks said could offend anybody like I was like in New York your last thing I hate the president all day long that you wished you lived in Europe for the rest like I no sense of patriotism who is writing about you at that time where it was it largely men yeah it was like Breitbart it was some guy called Steven Crowder he dressed up as me I remember he like wear the same shirt and like a diamond necklace and he's like a fat white guy and I remember being kind of upset cuz he was able to do like a pretty good approximation of me like it did not look like me and he liked it a version of it that was like just making everything I said into some just like joke of Millennials sluttiness and I New Politics make people angry but I didn't know how angry they made people and it was the first time I was like had that feeling was like oh my God I was like I can't win I was like cuz already there were tons of like woke feminist on the internet who are like this is a piece of trash and I want to use it
00:24:01toilet paper all of the controversy around the shows about issues of inclusivity and diversity and intersectionality it already happened so I was already getting messages that were just like shut the fuk up like you I mean it's funny because you what you white bitch I didn't want to say but I didn't know the term tone policing yet so I didn't recognize that like when you say to someone like excuse me but I would never talk to you that way that that's like you using your like little prissy White Privilege like I drove by the house or even yell at each other sites like idiots on saying I want scream to my mom would go fuck yourself and die and it was like an issue for 3 years so like I didn't understand that smart thoughtful people could write you like take several seats and kill yourself and that was their way of communicating and now I no longer assume when someone curses at me or tells me to go kill myself that they're dumb because they're probably not they're probably angry
00:25:01want to be heard but at that point I was like that's how you're supposed to talk to a lady so I was like it was hard for me to receive those criticisms so I was like to receive those criticism from people who were like shut up and kill yourself and then I also dad had the all right thing shut up and kill yourself and I was like oh everyone hates me that's a revelation that's something that I've always found so intriguing about in the particular space you take up in the cultural and political conversation is that you are equally as polarizing on all angles of the political Spectrum there is no except for I'd say your core audience who loves you and Leslie which would be largely young white women who are fighting for Reproductive Justice who are feminist who are you know I'm struggling with body issues relating your people who are dealing with issues of body positivity and fat shaming and
00:26:01I think a lot of people who have suffered in abusive relationships are of experience sexual assault have been come forward and really talk to me about how local I've been has meant to them but besides that that's office to Who's down and who's not the first time I became really conscious of your politics was your book tour the way in which you and your sibling design not to be part Workshop to be part of an obviously conversations between other women authors and then part uplifting voices of other folks people may not have heard of what was the design process around that quick question I mean I remember just saying to Grace who's like so smart about stuff was like I just don't feel good about going out and peddling my book like a product and the book is a product to feel like it's also very much about me coming into my own as a woman and as a feminist and as an assault Survivor it was my first time really acknowledging that I had been raped because it was something that I had buried so much because there wasn't a language around it even though I want
00:27:01super liberal school it was like there was no language around being like I was assaulted and I don't know what to do and so I felt sort of felt like I had existed at school and this ring of Shame of having like basically just been a girl who had sex with a gross guy with a girlfriend and I was like trying to outrun that reputation marker because I wasn't able to say to anyone like guys he raped me I did not make a choice and that's not a part of who I am so when the bookstore happened I just knew that I didn't want to go out and just go like please buy my book and you'll get this accompanying button I wanted it to feel like a space of unity and is also right before the midterm elections so
00:27:41I remember asking my boyfriend was saying to me last night I was like just saying how anxious I am about to rock star boyfriend rock star boyfriend so handsome don't know how I got him in my life he's very frustrated three-quarters of the time but he seems to want to be around and it's shocking but my rock-star boyfriend who is pretty full of like his fans loved him they always have the only shit he gets his for dating me to be totally honest everyone's like you're the best why is that your girlfriend and I'm like I'm like I'm sorry but besides that like people just like you write great songs you stand for really good things you're such a sweet person and he said he's not a divisive person he doesn't have a device of bone in his body like he's like very like Springsteen in the way that he likes to lick bring people together with like a working-class bigger and I'm like want to burn everything down and it's like frustrates him it does cuz he's like if you were like less like defiant and irritated you could bring people into your space and I'm like I wasn't raised to do that I don't know how to do that
00:28:41want to do that but at the same time I want people to feel safe and that's the thing that's always battling inside me is like my desire to bring people together and safe spaces and my desire to be like a fucking asshole who just does what I want and says what I want because I look at the history of the women in my family and I look at the history of the woman who I admired and I look at all the female authors who I love who killed themselves because they couldn't even make their voices heard and I'm like oh I'm here for all of you I'm not even here for the people who are live on this planet you always bring up female writers why books you know most people there you know if you think about Didion or Efron they went from books to screen and you started on screen and then sense of going into books and it seems like when you started writing personally specifically Memoir that's when you really attracted the the IR of a lot of people are just like isn't she heard enough she's already on the screen was that lost on you at all this
00:29:41when you're going into writing your essays about the idea of like a twenties at that point I was 26 when I got my book jail being like telling people what they're going to do and like ice cuz everyone's like it's part time or part advice book and it wasn't really an advice book it was a memoir but I mean I'd always written prose since I was a little kid I've gone to college for creative writing and all of my most profound relationships were with book somewhere with authors and I think especially a lot of people will say when you're fairly friendless child I mean I had some people but not a lot of people you develop really intense relationships are like media so for Jack it was music like he had a lot of trauma and his childhood that he dealt with by listen to Springsteen and listen to Billy Joel and teaching himself to play the guitar and like getting into the punk scene and like that was his form of heel for Judd Apatow his loneliness was channeled into an obsession with comedy and with comedians for me it was authors particular female authors my dad would take me every Saturday to the Barnes & Noble on Court Street and
00:30:41go to the Poetry section and you just go through and find every book written by a woman that I haven't read yet and he had a rule which was like you can't spend a lot on clothes but you can always spend as much money as you want them box which was like mean within reason I wasn't solely books that were $1,000 but like he would go through and get me all the poetry paperbacks and I'll just go home and read like I wrote my first-ever fan letter I wrote was to Nikki Giovanni and 5th grade each word was in a different color cuz I thought she would like that and notice it more than other family dinner so I made my dad get me these pens and I was like dear and pink Mickey and purple and she did not write back but I'm not blaming her what made you write to her love poems and it was like part romance part sort of like polemic about raise I'll just so understood reading it and so kind of galvanized and I remember feeling like something hit my cracked open and me in the way that she was able to be vulnerable and
00:31:41I remember like just feeling like that was what I wanted to do with my life I never thought at that age about comedy like it's almost like I've started doing comedy because I would say serious things and people will laugh at them like my heart was with these like super confessional female poets and with you know Sylvia Plath and and Sexton and Virginia Woolf and then I started to read like the second wave feminist thinking and it's still to me like the greatest day you can have is just like read a whole book by a woman in one sitting and the last time I had that experience Barbara Smith's collections that she wrote alongside the kitchen table women of color press Collective and is feeling like so filled and so seen and also
00:32:28made to like one a rally and do something for someone who writes them where I I find it completely liberating for myself but at the same time really constricting and trapping of the people who love me who share experiences and that share history with me how do you grapple with writing about the people who are in your personal life that you didn't push board public because of the platform on which you you stand on its hard like I never ever as long as I live will not have guilt about what writing about Grace did to Grace life cuz I never imagined like Grace read that chapter and was like yes I feel seen this is what our relationship is and take out this one detail and then suddenly we were in the crosshairs of not just all right but also a feminist to or telling us that our relationship wasn't normal or that I had been grooming Grace for some kind of sexual assault people were treating Grace's queerness and Grace is gender nonconformity like it was a result of the relationship that we had and it was so
00:33:27painful for her for them I'm still learning my pronouns because it's been a recent transition and it was so painful my whole life has been devoted to protecting Grace Grace and my 6 years younger little baby girl and so to know that Grace is being attacked for doing nothing but just existing was like you never will move past that it feels like I drive it feels like I drown my baby in the bathtub and I don't have a better way of saying it than that like I was watching girl on the train great movie and there's a part where character literally drowns her baby in the bathtub and I just started to leave because that feeling of like I fucked up I heard the delicate saying even though Grace is a grown up now Grace is a strong independent activist with their own opinions who will say to me actually this experience activated me and taught me things and I don't regret anything I'm also shocked by the silencing that folk have done in terms of Grace's age
00:34:27see in this in this narrative that you both share in the shared history of your sibling hood and I was think about how just like how that goes on to the erasing of of Trance vocal queer folk and folk of color from a lot of the spaces that we're in. They believe ultimately that Grace is trans NASCAR race is queerness is a disease that was acquired through mistreatment which is one of the oldest gaslighting tricks in the book that exists to silence people who are differently as someone who was extensively around around my child sexual abuse and the years in which I had to undo the learning right like even wanting even wanting to write about that I was even trepidatious in my in my book I got even say that I'm reluctant about how I think about this because of the fact that people will think this to like the reason why I am the way that I am course it's so interesting his grace was Grace was from the time Grace was born my mom would push based on the street in his stroller and people would look and go like
00:35:27the cutest son and Grace were fully be in a pink dress and people would think that they were a boy like that was my mom was like I could put her in a straight-up Tiara and heels and people be like what an adorable son you have because the intensity of Graces androgynous or masculine energy was that powerful I'm from the minute grace had agency Grace was dressing like a boy and Grace has written about this a Grace was never email in the way that I was female and I was always very shy mean every picture of me is like me and like a tattered nightgown would like a flower in my hair and I remember really strongly feeling like from the time verses for Grace was like my cat lick my little son but that's how I felt about Grace was like that I have been given a gift of like I have a little son and I have to take care of him and like those are the intricacies of our relationship that no one will ever understand like that is probably the most painful situation that I've encountered obviously with writing Memoir there's a little or stuff like when your parents feel exposed or misunderstood or like it's hard to write about my
00:36:27productive illness or my abusive sexual relationship or my rape without that also feeling like it projects onto Jack because it gives people a glimpse at what he's dealing with in terms of a partner like it's not super sexy to be like a rockstar who's girlfriends like and I haven't been able to have sex in 6 months because I have a broken vagina it's like go date a model like white like it's really like a toughie like why is he not dating a nasty gal model nobody understands what are the things that I admire so much about you is your willingness to
00:36:59not just be open and vulnerable but your willingness to make mistakes publicly it's something that I find myself tripping up over the fear of making a mistake and being called out for something and so rarely am I called out for much from people who actually care and that I actually respect what is your process like when you fuck up I think the first thing that I do obviously I'm defensive like everybody else and I don't like to be called out it doesn't feel good and I'll ask my boyfriend or my parents like I don't handle criticism well like I always would be like if my parents have found my homework and it wasn't finished it but you didn't finish your homework and I feel like I could always turn it around on them so it's barely been an education for me to be like okay messing up as a part of being human and it doesn't take away from your Humanity in fact it adds to it and you said you like I've got Jack like I just go like I look at the credit I read through the criticisms and I just go like do I feel in my bones that these people are right and this warrants an apology like both go into
00:37:59actually and spiritually and by the way like when you talk to like your publicist something else will always be like don't apologize it's just going to extend the media cycle and I'm like I don't care about extending the media cycle I'm fine and my fucking house I just want people to know that I hear that what constitutes a strong Fair Redemptive apology for you I never really think about the concept of being redeemed because to be totally Frank I kind of feel like I'm so far past that was so many people that like I don't think about it as a way to get people to like me again and I think if you do that something really an authentic comes out of you I just think about it as a way to show that I understand so the first thing I say is I'm sorry because you need to say that clearly without any ifs ands or buts so it's not like a Housewives apology of like I'm sorry if that hurt you I'm sorry if that hurt you but you didn't serve enough Chardonnay like it's like I'm sorry here's why I'm sorry here's the critique and here's what I recognize about the critique here's how I'm going to do better in the future. To me is
00:38:59the roadmap I don't then look at the comments to hope that everyone goes like you're forgiven like a lot of the comments like you're still a piece of shit on my great but at least I've told you that I hear you and a complaint that I got a lot of people being like you keep apologizing when is your apology meter going to run out like when are people going to be fucking sick of you and cancel you because you can't stop talking about him like if you put out as much content as I do you put yourself on the line for as many issues as I do and you speak as much about your personal belief system as I do like you are just going to fuck up like if you look at the history of people who have been like
00:39:35like them or hate them prolific sinkers overtime like they've had some scandals and nobody especially somebody who came to the public eye not particularly political and not particularly awaken like has has a blemish-free past so I don't think about it as being like you run out of apologies I just don't want to make the same mistakes over so it's funny when people like you already fucked up. Odell then you said this thing about abortion and like the shooting at each other I like that was horrible that situation was Odell I feel I will always work to think about things differently the fact that I then misspoke about reproductive Justice on my podcast that's a totally different issue and also that's an issue that I've devoted huge percentage of my life working in come too so that one hit you harder than most of them because you've been in the space for so long it felt bad because it wasn't like a statement I could stand by I wasn't like I was like you guys making a great point I was making a joke and it just wasn't funny
00:40:30and so that one was really rough and it was rough on the people that I work with because I think they were like that podcast is such a secret like healing space for us that to have that negativity bleeding was really tough but also yes it was tough because that was my first political issue and it will probably be my last level of Engagement was so deep Center of Reproductive Rights constantly and like the first thing I did after that was go to Planned Parenthood and get immediate raining cuz I was like I won't let that one happen again but was also hard was like to see how excited people are to come for you like that's why I guess when you feel like you've been like fighting that uphill battle for 6 years and then you say one thing on your podcast and everyone's like go kill yourself you're not doing anything for this move that you're like I have ate slept and breathed this dialogue and this rhetoric for as long as I've been alive and I just like don't believe in a world where I say that and get death
00:41:30cats and Mel Gibson beats women and says he hates Jews and it gets an Oscar like I just I'm angry about that and something else that you were of our first female president that you've not for us but you pulled me down to North Carolina with it going campaigning and rally the troops to go vote I was so annoying like I was the last person my friends wanted to hear from for like 18 months cuz I knew it was either going to be like complaining about the election or asking them to do something and you said something so poignant which was it's a privilege to be heartbroken by the system for the first time at age 30 obviously you're fine but how are you how are you able to step back up and continue to be deeply engaged in this work we just have no choice right now and that like
00:42:25you know our heartbreak has to be overpowered by our anger and our sense of Engagement and activation and I think recognizing my shock every friend I talk to who was a person of color who is a trans person who was an immigrant was like yeah this is the system that we've been part of like Donald Trump is nothing new Donald Trump is something that's new to white girls who were raised in downtown New York Donald Trump is nothing new he is the embodiment of what everybody else has been facing for their entire lives so what do you say to those white girls who helped elect him the 53% it's complicated because part of me is like fuck you but I also think
00:43:05that I love you no matter how you voted and even if you voted against her own rights I'm for you and even if you voted against my rights and even if you voted against the rights of my friends who don't look or act or believe like you do I'm for you because even if you voted yourself into this pickle I still believe you deserve everything you are promised by a candidate who believes in your Humana for me a huge part of feminism is like Eve like this is something Hillary Clinton's had someone ask her like what do you think about the fact that Millennials aren't for you and she said it doesn't matter if they're for me cuz I'm for them and that's how I feel like if you like me if you hate me like I am here and I won't until I die I will be here for you I'm here for you if you wrote a shity thing about me on Jezebel I'm here for you if you don't know who I am I'm here for you if you think I'm a racist and I'm here for you if you think I'm delusional downtown Diva like I love you
00:44:00even if you don't want my love I still love you
00:44:05thank you so much Lena Janet it was really moving to talk to you I love you
00:44:11I'm here for you even if you don't
00:44:30give enjoyed our show subscribe to it and read it on Apple podcast I know you hear that all the time at the end of every single podcast but it's super important and it helps us reach more listeners we need to hear from Miss Tina Bina Maxine all of the Fates so go do it
00:44:47Justin Selena was our guest this week I'm going to leave our next guest he's the epitome of black Excellence a genius and that's not just hyperbole if you walks across the stage he said all the trophies they were before as a product of pineapple Street Media and Lenny letter it was produced by Jenna Weisberg & Josh when Liz Watson and Barry Finkel executive producer is Lena Dunham special thanks to Max Linsky and Ben Cooley our music is my hunsdale soon
00:45:20hey I just want to give you a heads up we're going to be off next week but don't worry just take it as a chance to live it up get some sun read a book watch them trashy reality television spend time with your loved ones then come back repaired because honey it's going to be even better

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