ESPNW has a long interview up with Girls creator Lena Dunham, justifying the focus on a non-athlete by talking about her recent foray into running and exercise. The interviewer also asks Lena some questions regarding women in sports, including the phenomena of female athletes like Serena Williams and Ronda Rousey getting body-shamed. Ronda Rousey went so far as to call out all the haters, saying she’s proud she doesn’t look like a “Do-Nothing B*tch.” Here’s Dunham’s theory on what that’s all about:
Fixating on bodies is a way to police women. We can no longer keep women from owning property. We can no longer keep women from voting. But we will find a way to police and repress powerful women and let them know that they do not matter to us and that they are not in control of their own destiny. I really think it comes down to misogyny. And then women join in because that’s what they’re being taught from the time they’re born. They don’t even recognize that they’re agents of their own oppression.
With Serena Williams and Ronda Rousey, men are thinking, “You could beat me up, that f—ing scares me, you have achieved more than I ever will in my lifetime, so I’m going to get online and tell you that you don’t look like someone I want to f—.” That is where I believe it comes from. And it’s so unenlightened. And man, it’s a bummer.
The fact is, Ronda Rousey could punch you in the face any time she wanted, and she has completely created her own life and she’s having an incredible career that most of us could only dream of and she doesn’t give a s—- what you think. And that point of view is really, really threatening to certain people, especially when it comes in the form of a woman, because to a man, a woman not caring what you think means that all your power is gone. You can’t control her anymore.
Before we go full #NotAllMen, let’s give Dunham points for noting women are just as guilty of body shaming as guys are, and this is really more of a culture thing than something we can pin wholly on one gender or another. Plus the sooner we stop taking observations about that culture as personal attacks, the sooner we can step back and admit these kinds of subconscious attitudes exist and try to work on them.
But what about those people that don’t think there’s anything wrong with body shaming? That think all the hate heaped on Lena Dunham for being ‘fat’ and ‘gross’ and regularly naked on her show is appropriate because ‘fat isn’t healthy’? Well, the fact that Serena and Ronda and many other athletic women get the same kinda crap shows you there’s no magic line someone can cross where society suddenly lays off on spewing vitriol about their bodies. Hell, Heidi Klum just got body-shamed by the Republican presidential frontrunner, Donald Trump.
That’s just the society we live in, and it will continue to be so until we somehow manage to go full Star Trek and leave our baser ape tendencies behind. I dunno how we get there, but talking about it like this probably helps.