Image via Getty

On Friday, Lena Dunham’s Lenny newsletter published a conversational interview with Dunham’s friend, the actress and comedian Amy Schumer. It’s a cringeworthy read: Here mostly to promote Schumer’s new book, it exemplifies the self-involvement and frequent hypocrisy which has generally left me cold on Dunham’s projects.

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Perhaps it’s the company—Schumer doesn’t come off as being particularly self-aware here, either—but the conversation feels like a corollary to the ongoing concept that personal self-empowerment is equal to feminism, that feeling good about oneself in a difficult and inequitable world is enough, and that doing so absolves one’s self of having to feel empathy or understanding of others. It also, very strangely, projects leering and potentially misogynist thoughts onto the mind of Odell Beckham Jr., a black football player for the New York Giants.

The interview begins fine enough, with Dunham writing that Schumer initially had auditioned for the role of Shoshanna in Girls, but that “it was clear Amy wasn’t meant to play an innocent Juicy Couture lover obsessed with emoji.” They chat about their own personal hustle and ambition, two things that have helped leverage their careers and afforded each the opportunity to attend the Met Ball (for Dunham, multiple times). And then we get this:

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LD: You and I were literally sitting across from each other at the Met Ball, and it was like a crazy countdown to when we could escape. You were like, “We’re honored to be here. We’re honored to be here.”

AS: I left so early. When did you leave?

LD: I attempted to grind my ass on Michael B. Jordan for an additional twenty minutes and then left right after you.

I was sitting next to Odell Beckham Jr., and it was so amazing because it was like he looked at me and he determined I was not the shape of a woman by his standards. He was like, “That’s a marshmallow. That’s a child. That’s a dog.” It wasn’t mean — he just seemed confused.

The vibe was very much like, “Do I want to fuck it? Is it wearing a … yep, it’s wearing a tuxedo. I’m going to go back to my cell phone.” It was like we were forced to be together, and he literally was scrolling Instagram rather than have to look at a woman in a bow tie. I was like, “This should be called the Metropolitan Museum of Getting Rejected by Athletes.”

AS: You were dressed like a boy, and you looked sexy, and I really appreciated you showing me your tits several times.

Dunham’s deployment of two black men here as both object— “I attempted to grind my ass on Michael B. Jordan”—and misogynist—“Do I want to fuck it?”—is telling, and deeply infuriating, particularly in her projection of an idea about black male athletes and their sexual prowess, all done to overemphasize how much she does not fit into a certain beauty or fashion ideal. (Never mind that Odell Beckham Jr. is as progressive a fashion plate as anyone, or that he simply may have been uninterested in talking to her.) Far as I can tell, Beckham was not given the chance to respond to her interpretation. (We’ve reached out to his representatives and will update if we hear back.)

Amy Schumer with Alexander Wang; Jenni Konner and Lena Dunham with Jenna Lyons; Odell Beckham Jr., all at the Met Ball. Images via Getty

Dunham then brings up Kurt Metzger, a writer for Inside Amy Schumer who recently took to Facebook to mock and belittle women who accused a fellow comedian of sexual assault, in the interest of “trolling.” They discuss how it’s unfair that Schumer would have to be held responsible for his actions—which is true in the sense that women are held responsible for the idiocy of men far too often, but is not true in the sense that Schumer employed and paid Metzger, a relationship that reasonably warranted a response from her. But she does say:

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AS: I’m like, “Come on, you guys. My dad shit himself at Adventure Land.” I do understand that [Kurt’s actions] would come back to me. I can see myself thinking that if I heard somebody on someone’s staff was doing that. I’d be like, “I wonder how they are going to handle that.” I get it. I get it, and I wasn’t even resentful of the connection. I was resentful of the lack of trust. Like, “Have I earned any good will with you guys? Do you believe that I feel that rape victims should be shamed on the internet?” Have I built up any sort of good will?”

The troubling imagery doubles down later in the interview, when Dunham and Schumer discuss Mayci Breaux and Jillian Johnson, two women who were murdered in a movie theater during a Trainwreck screening. To emphasize the real tragedy of their deaths, Schumer invokes this tired old trope:

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And it just so happens that they were two of the sweetest angels who have ever lived, you know? It is never some toothless fucking crackhead who gets killed.

It’s as flippant and insensitive as much of Schumer’s humor, and surely she’ll say it was meant to be a joke. It fits neatly into a part of the inspiration for Lenny: just two lady celebs bein’ unabashedly themselves, together. But in the context of this girl-posi interview, it reads as obnoxious.

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When Lenny initially launched last September, Dunham and her co-founder Jenni Konner positioned it as a friendly alternative to other kinds of women’s media that perpetuated “feminist in-fighting,” as she put it in a 2015 Re-Code interview. (I’ll note here that Lenny is helmed by former Jezebel editor Jessica Grose, and past and present members of its staff are friends with Jezebel staffers.) Given their setup for the launch, it’s this part of her chat with Schumer, above all, that felt particularly disingenuous coming from Dunham, the self-appointed savior of the genre:

LD: The other thing that I get really crazy about is this new world in which women aren’t just supposed to be protected from actions, they’re supposed to be protected from language. Women are so strong. My ovary has basically exploded in my stomach twice, and I was pretty chill about it. You think I can’t listen to some short comedy loser say something dumb about rape?

AS: Right.

LD: I’m not going to cry, I’m a fucking queen.

In Re-Code, Konner and Dunham specifically targeted Jezebel, which Konner called “almost entirely full of snark and cynicism”; Dunham responded that Lenny hoped to be “a space that’s snark-free, but where you’re still laughing.” Because we’ve somehow survived Lenny’s ascendency, and because women don’t need to be protected from language and snark after all, let us humbly and dutifully acknowledge here: This interview between two fucking queens was pretty fucking embarrassing all around.

UPDATE, 4:05 PM: An eagle-eyed reader points out that the online version of this interview is different. As noted above, the initial version delivered to Lenny’s newsletter subscribers reads:

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LD: You and I were literally sitting across from each other at the Met Ball, and it was like a crazy countdown to when we could escape. You were like, “We’re honored to be here. We’re honored to be here.”

AS: I left so early. When did you leave?

LD: I attempted to grind my ass on Michael B. Jordan for an additional twenty minutes and then left right after you.

I was sitting next to Odell Beckham Jr., and... [ETC]

The version currently posted online reads:

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LD: You and I were literally sitting across from each other at the Met Ball, and it was so surreal to get to do that.

I was sitting next to Odell Beckham Jr., and... [ETC]

Update, 6:10 PM: Dunham has tweeted about her Beckham comments:

Update, 9/3/16, 2:36 PM: Dunham has further tweeted and posted Instagrams regarding this topic, including an apology to Beckham.