It’s not clear why Dunham is considered a feminist icon except that she says she is a feminist and is very frank and open in Not that Kind of Girl (2014) about her personal difficulties, many of which her TV character Hannah shares. This approach fits in with Third Wave T-shirts proclaiming “Bitch” and “Stupid Girl” as if rebellion against being a good girl or an achiever is liberation. Dunham’s book mentions taking medication for obsessive compulsive disorder, anxiety that “has followed me through my life like a bad friend,”[i] phobias, difficult PMS and endometriosis, difficulty with authority figures, being too passive in romantic relationships with men and being attracted to “jerks,” being critical of her overweigh body but an exhibitionist, self-loathing, using drugs like cocaine, and being repulsed by her university (Oberlin). Her book starts out, “I am twenty years old and I hate myself” but struggles to “have it all.” She shares very personal stories about her sexuality, such as learning to masturbate after third grade, loosing her virginity and just pretending to like sex. Dunham concludes with the common sense advice “don’t put yourself in situations you’d like to run away from.” If you have to run, “run back to yourself, like the bunny in Runaway Bunny runs to its mother, but you are the mother, and you’ll see that later and be very, very proud.”
[i] Lena Dunham. Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned.” Random House, 2014, p. 71.