Lena Dunham Racism: How Caitlin Moran Exemplifies the Problem of Feminist Privilege


A white feminist uninterested in intersectionality? Must be a day that ends in “y.” Still, the amount of privilege that British writer-turned-feminist icon Caitlin Moran, the best-selling  author of How To Be a Woman, owns is special and unique, like a snowflake. Generally, white feminists close speeches with two lines about inclusion and then suck on their thumbs when push comes to shove. However, Moran is different.

Indeed, her no-nonsense approach to expressing her privilege is inspiring to all who claim to champion equality while simultaneously disregarding the thoughts, needs, and desires of folks of color. Moran found herself caught in controversy when she brushed off as unimportant the truth that Lena Dunham’s HBO show Girls disregards the experiences of women of color. 

To explain herself, Moran said in an interview with Salon:

“If a woman of color was allowed to make show as funny and honest and daring as Dunham’s — wandering around slightly overweight, naked, spreckled with acne, and talking about abortion, I’d be pitching a fucking massive feature on that to the Times, too. And I wouldn’t ask that writer why there were no white characters in it, just like I didn’t ask Dunham why there were no people of color in Girls. I think it’s as dumb as asking ABBA, ‘Why aren’t one of you black?’”

There is a term for Moran's response. It’s called “white privilege,” and it was delivered to you in under 100 words by someone who is supposed to embody a movement whose very name means “equality.” 

For women of color, being labeled “slightly overweight” by a white male-dominated industry, where beauty is often defined by whiteness, is not the foremost issue in our lives. If that is the issue that consumes their time. must be nice for feminists of privilege. While one might enjoy Girls for the show's wanton discussion of sex, we don’t have the same ability to own obtaining abortions or sexual liberation within communities of color the same way that white women do. 

But I want to thank Moran for reminding us that white feminists with power have done little to help us break through that. If Moran really believes that wondering why a show endorsed by a supposed mainstream feminist voice is completely devoid of color is comparable to asking why there was not a black woman singing “Dancing Queen,” then the feminist movement is way worse off than I thought.

Women of color have always had a rocky relationship with feminism. Without minorities, feminism could not be what it is today. We have answered the call to action time and again, despite the lack of appreciation or awareness of issues that affect our communities specifically.  And while I appreciate the big, red, “Stop Racism NOW” signs held at rallies, I think it is high time that we cut the fluffy rhetoric and stop empowering white feminists with unsurprisingly narrow views on us like Caitlin Moran. 

If it is not intersectional, it is not feminism.