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Girls & Women

#wcw: why Lena Dunham is a badass

Flickr: Alien Artifact

#WomenCrushWednesday is a recurring column highlighting the amazing women shaping and changing our world, and why the team at Global Citizen has a crush on them.

When I first heard about a TV Show depicting the lives of four women (or rather girls…) in their young 20’s living it rough in New York City– I rolled my eyes and moved on. I grew up in New York City, therefore no one else knows what it’s like. But that’s the pretentious New Yorker side I sometimes convey, and to a fault. At the insistence of my best friend (who’s actually a born and bred NY’er… so actually more of a NY’er than I am, I hate to admit) I finally watched the show, Girls. I absolutely loved it.

Having been an avid fan of Friends and Sex and the City, both set in New York City, they are actually unrealistic. Girls, though similar to the other two shows in its portrayal of trying to make it in the big city, does so very differently (more on that later). So, once I established myself as a fan of the show, I had to find out who this Lena Dunham person was.

Wait, who is she? And what does she do?

Lena Dunham is an actress, author, screenwriter, producer, and director. A wonderwoman, if you will. Mostly known for her work on her TV show Girls, she basically runs a one woman show. She created, writes, produces and directs the show, and she also, rightly so, casted herself in the show. You have to give her a lot of credit for this, it’s pretty amazing how much she does to make her dream come true.


Flickr: Wally Gobetz

You might know Lena as Hannah Horvath, in Girls. Which really, is unfortunate, because Hannah is pretty self-centered, lost, rather naive, pretty lazy and talks of her life in the future. Her character also famously says she is the “voice of her generation”, which is pretty self-centered when you think about it.

The one liner in the ad above “Almost getting it kind of together” is a perfect description of young 20 year olds in the US, and of course of the show. And that’s just it. Lena is really talented at taking the portrayal of millennials in America and putting her own spin on it.


If you’ve been living in a cave, here it is in short, millennials have been portrayed as pretty much everything I mentioned Hannah is. To follow that, there have been a lot of explanations for it as well, i.e. a college graduates moving back home because of the economy. Yes, I agree, every generation is different because of the surrounding environment, I doubt anyone will disagree with that. So why is it then, when older generations talk of millennials, their connotations are playfully negative. But you know what, who cares about that?! Lena succeeds by being herself! And you know what’s even better? Millennials who are majorly successful like Lena, all broke the “rules” as well to succeed.

Lena the Badass

On top of being a lazy millennial, Lena is a feminist. And a great one at that.

Flickr: Fortune Live Media

Feminism  ≠  Man-hating


I hate it when people associate feminism with man-hating. It just means equal opportunities for both genders. Feminists come in to offer the same, not more, opportunities to women. But, really it’s about female empowerment. There is nothing wrong with wanting to empower girls and women to believe that they can mold their own future. (If you’ve taken part in our #ShowYourSelfie Campaign–and you should–then you too have worked to empower women and young girls.)  And Lena does that really well. She has a can-do attitude that allows her to excel and succeed.

Lena also authored a memoir, Not That Kind of Girl. The book is a melange of her essays, emails, and a lot of her life experiences.

Photo: Delora Faujour

In her book, Lena talks a lot about how men have either helped or hurt her career for the better. She takes her bad experiences and learns from them. Something I’ve been trying to learn how to do, myself.

Lena is a great example of female leadership. The video below is her cast talking about what it’s like to have Lena as a boss. They all say great things. I think somewhere, someone famous once said something along these lines: if you want to know what the boss is like, talk not to the boss’s superiors, but to their subordinates. I doubt Lena ever treats someone as inferior, but rather as an equal. 

Let’s follow in Lena’s example of great female leadership by supporting #ShowYourSelfie. Global citizens, you can be a part of making sure the girls EVERYWHERE have the right to mold their own future. Female leadership is not about power over another, but using your power to empower those who haven’t figured it out yet!


Joline Faujour