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It's Lenny Letter day!
Now just what is that, exactly? It means that the much-hyped feminist newsletter from Lena Dunham and fellow Girls executive producer Jenni Konner finally dropped in the (digital) mailboxes of forward-thinking women (and a few men, probably) everywhere.
When the project was first announced it was met with some contradicting opinions. Many of Dunham's fans and followers were thrilled at the idea of an email newsletter that would presumably start a lot of intelligent dialogue about the issues facing women today, but there was a sizable group that felt the idea was a bit overbearing and, to put it bluntly (in their words, not ours!) just a little too much Lena. Both sides had valid arguments, but there was no real point in arguing until there was actually something physical to analyze. And now there is!
Dunham has been previewing a bit of the newsletter's main draw, an interview with none other than Hillary Rodham Clinton. It's no secret that Lena's been fully entrenched in Camp Hill for ages now, so this was actually a pretty perfect way to kick things off for Lenny—bias and all. Some will no doubt read the Q&A and cry favoritism, but is anyone really looking to Lena Dunham for fair and even coverage of the 2016 election? Didn't think so. We'll choose to judge this section of Lenny by its ability to be insightful and offer some sage advice.
But instead what we got were some great anecdotes about Clinton's life before the public eye—like the fact that she campaigned Wellesley officials to remove curfews and male visitation rules and worked at a salmon fishery in Alaska (!) after college. Sure there were some of the requisite political discussions, including Clinton's views on handling student debt, the problem with race and policing in this country and of course a few soundbites on that F-word—yes, if you're wondering, she does call herself a Feminist—but it was nothing we hasn't heard before on CNN broadcasts of stump speeches or in basically every magazine interview. It's far more interesting to read Hillary discussing the meaning of one of her favorite dresses from the 90s; the non-filtered Hillary, if you will. It's kind of painful to say, but this was one of the more enjoyable Clinton interviews in recent memory. Props to you, Lena.
Of course the inaugural Lenny Letter isn't just a love note to Hillary Clinton, despite the impression you get from the press. Dunham and Konner attempt to hit all the usual suspects of a fem-lit newsletter. There's the column Out of Print, which highlights female writers and artists from the past whose work went largely unrecognized (the first subject is National Book Award finalist June Jordan).
There's the column Tracing a Trend, which attempts to speak to the non-offensive and non-frivolous side of fashion—you'll remember the newsletter's mission statement that promised to work on "keeping abortion safe and legal, keeping birth control in your pocket and getting the right people elected, all while wearing extremely fierce jumpsuits." We don't know about you, but we're super relieved that Lena Dunham is officially giving permission to care about clothes (this time around, it's "denim trousers that are the exact reflection of the attitude you've wanted to carry all your life")! We can finally stop masquerading around in our Feminist Corduroys.
And finally, there's the column Rumors I Heard About My Body, in which Lenny partners with the team at Planned Parenthood to answer, well, rumors about your body. Normally we would be quick with a sarcastic comment that hides our slight embarrassment at reading an essay titled "Is My Period Weird?" (spoiler alert: it's not), but with today's all-out assault on Planned Parenthood we're going to give the cheesiness a pass. This is a good, if overly women's mag-y, way to highlight all the good work PP is doing. (Did you hear that, Carly Fiorina?)
And with that, we'll climb down off our soapbox (see what you've done to us, Lena?) and announce that we give Lenny Letter a passing grade. It's a bit sure of itself in all the predictable ways, but it's not nearly as obnoxious as the naysayers thought it would be.