Not That Kind of Girl

I wouldn’t call myself a fan of Lena Dunham, but at the same time, I am not not-a-fan either. My feelings towards her fall solidly in neutral territory. I’ve only seen one season of her painfully awkward (though often cited as painfully accurate) portrayal of twenty-something women on her show Girls and I didn’t like it enough to continue watching it.

However, I selected this particular title as our Book of the Month for October for two reasons. One because it was new and my taste for it wouldn’t be shaded by other rants, raves, or reviews. And two because Dunham is still a twenty-something herself, making her right up GenTwenty’s alley.

While I was reading, there were three prominent thoughts that I kept coming back to.

1. It’s chaotic. Maybe it was just me, but I felt like her narratives were all over the place. One second she’s a college grad, the next she’s a preteen sharing a bed with her sister. This happened so often I may be suffering from whiplash. In many ways, I feel this is representative of twenty-something culture as a whole. Our daily lives are often haphazardly constructed without much rhyme or reason, even after we have settled into a 9-5 jobs.

We jump from topic to topic, from Twitter to Facebook to Tumblr, from brunch to spin class. It’s a fairly common theme among our demographic, whether you grew up in NYC with a father who painted penises or not. I found it hard to follow along with the narrative at many points, often returning to the previous paragraph to connect the dots I missed the first time through.

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2. Do all stories really need to be told? I am an advocate for personal narratives, however, I would estimated that during 35 – 45 percent of this book, I kept asking myself what value she was trying to add by sharing certain stories. I believe we all have things to say, but often aren’t quite sure how to say them other than with an artistic flair we call our own and by boldly announcing them to the world.

Sometimes we never find ourselves in the right venue to share a specific story we’ve been holding onto. Instead of feeling that she was expressing how her experiences have led her to be the person she is today, I only kept having the sense that she was saying, “Look at me! My experiences were so different from yours! I’m so special!”

There is also the argument for her abnormal behavior. I’m not uncomfortable with discussing sex, but I was pushed into uncomfortable territory when she admitted to masturbating while her sister slept next to her. Actually, this makes me cringe, to be completely honest. There is a lot of back and forth on wether or not this is “normal” behavior, but as far as I’m concerned, it shouldn’t be encouraged.

3. What does she mean by “not that kind of girl?” Usually when this phrase is thrown about, it is to elevate oneself above others. Specifically used as a way to say, “I’m not like those other girls, I don’t care about what they care about,” and therefore promoting that one woman’s desires are better than another because they go against conventional stereotypes. I can’t say for certain where I fall on this “anti-feminist” title, but I do think it doesn’t promote the right message.

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Overall I didn’t find this book to be particularly inspiring. I don’t think Dunham’s story is particularly intriguing, and it didn’t speak to me in they way I was hoping it would.

What were your thoughts on Dunham’s “Not That Kind of Girl?”

Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham