Lena Dunham responds to feminist backlash over abortion joke

'Girls' star was speaking at Tribeca Film Festival

Lena Dunham has addressed the backlash she faced over a recent joke about abortion.

The Girls star was forced to apologise last December after comments made during her Women Of The Hour podcast, in which she recalled talking about termination during a planned parenthood meeting in Texas. She told listeners she had never gone through a termination herself, but joked “but I wish I had”. This sparked a wave of controversy, with one pro-life charity accusing her of treating abortions “like getting your appendix removed”.

However, speaking at a panel at the Tribeca Film Festival this week, Dunham said that it was the reaction from “other women who shared my politics” that was hard for her to take.


“I can take whatever the ‘alt-right’ wants to say, that’s fine,” Dunham said, as reported by The Guardian. “I can’t even understand what they’re saying, it’s insane, and everyone that I know and love knows it’s insane.”

Dunham continued: “It’s when I thought I was being misunderstood, or willfully misunderstood, by other women who shared my politics that things were really hard.”

“I’m not even going to say I was taken out of context – I made a joke and people had a really negative reaction to it,” Dunham added. “As someone who has devoted a lot of their adult life to reproductive choice, justice and freedom, to be misunderstood by other pro-choice feminists was like hell to me. That was when I started thinking I really need to be more strategic [about what I say].”

In her initial apology, Dunham said her joke was meant to “explain the many reasons women do or don’t choose to have children and what bodily autonomy really means”. She added: “I’m so proud of the medley of voices in the episode. I truly hope a distasteful joke on my part won’t diminish the amazing work of all the women who participated.”