Lena Dunham Turns An Insult Into A Good Point About Paid Family Leave

Photo: Richard Shotwell/REX/Shutterstock.
Lena Dunham is adding to the list of issues she'd like to advocate for. The avid campaigner for women's equality, who has raised awareness about endometriosis, sexual assault, and more, had a revelation over the weekend about the importance of family and medical leave. It all started when she canceled a book signing at Los Angeles bookstore Book Soup. "So sorry to miss folks at @BookSoup today! I'm so thankful for the chance to be an indie bookseller but am alas under the weather," she tweeted. One disappointed fan was not okay with this excuse.
"No offense, but you're too sick to sit and sign books? I was back at work six days after a c-section," wrote a woman in a tweet that Dunham screenshotted and posted to Instagram. The message caused the actress-writer-director to do a little soul-searching, she said, even though her knee-jerk reaction was to fight back with sarcasm. "At first it made me laugh a lot— like, oh, I'm sorry, I left your award in the car," Dunham wrote. "But then I really contemplated how dark it is that our culture prizes these speedy recovery narratives because guess what? They're actually ways to keep women from feeling fucking pissed that they don't have proper maternity leave or medical and family-care resources."
Though there are certain women who speak competitively about how quickly they returned to work following childbirth, a recent poll showed that 72% of Americans support a paid family-leave law. Paid family leave was part of Hillary Clinton's platform, while President-elect Donald Trump promised six weeks of paid leave for new mothers only. Dunham didn't directly mention Trump's victory in her Instagram post, but signaled how everyone can still do their part to change attitudes. "We may not have an imminent policy change on the way, but we can change the way we talk about this stuff, and treat childbirth (Or fatherhood! Or illness!) as the serious and personal journeys that they are," she said. Other women chimed in on Instagram to agree with her. "You're absolutely right, Lena! As great as that is for her, it's really not right for her to shove that expectation on someone else. And it hurts my heart when women do it to other women. Sigh," wrote user nikirae_1k. "This! We have a right to take the time we need and deserve without being looked down upon or feeling ashamed. Go you for putting your health first. Feel better soon, Lena!" said solbeing8. On Twitter, however, the comments were less than friendly, reminding Dunham of her previously stated desire to move to Canada if Trump won.

More from Pop Culture

R29 Original Series