In Allison P. Davis’ current Lena Dunham profile in The Lower, which targeted closely on the “Women” creator’s persistent well being points, Dunham advised the author at one level that she’d “wish to be the face of” the fibromyalgia drug Lyrica. This remark, amongst others, left me questioning: Is Dunham able to being a part of a collective motion with out making an attempt to be its face?
I don’t assume she will be able to. And the truth that she’s making an attempt to be is an issue.
Regardless of a number of public mishaps over the previous a number of years brought on by her personal lack of knowledge, Dunham continues to demand middle stage ― in her personal work, in her mom’s pictures collection on gender, within the #TimesUp motion, and now among the many disabled and chronically sick. It’s due to Dunham’s privilege that she’s in a position to do that. Privilege of any form (racial, financial, gender) isn’t inherently unhealthy, nevertheless it comes with the duty to amplify the voices of marginalized of us.
Lena Dunham, in her refusal to do that and as an alternative be the voice herself, is hurting the very causes she claims to assist. When she accused Aurora Perrineau, a Black biracial lady, of fabricating a rape allegation towards one in every of Dunham’s “Women” colleagues in 2017, she made it clear she doesn’t perceive each the load of her voice and the very motion she claims to ardently assist. The identical could be stated for her eagerness to write the script for a movie about Syrian refugee Doaa Al-Zamel relatively than insisting the workforce rent a Syrian author.
These are simply two objects on Davis’ “record of issues Dunham has been requested to apologize for” however has in the end didn’t study from. Her current visitor editor’s letter in The Hollywood Reporter is one other instance of the media’s willingness to permit Dunham to fail up, giving her a platform to excuse her dismissal of Perrineau as a studying expertise. I’m hesitant to consider that her time silent on the problem was spent in introspection; if it had been, she could have had the foresight to comprehend the “Ladies in Leisure” situation of The Hollywood Reporter was not speculated to be a public discussion board for her personal redemption. These actions and subsequent hole apologies show Dunham can’t be the one to signify the chronically sick and/or disabled ― particularly essentially the most marginalized of us, a bunch she repeatedly fails to uplift.
Somewhat than middle Dunham’s slim expertise battling persistent sickness as a rich white lady, we should always go the mic to individuals with numerous experiences.
I’m a Lebanese-American Muslim lady with endometriosis and psychological sicknesses. I haven’t skilled poverty, however my household has all the time struggled financially and continues to take action now. I perceive the frustration and difficulties that include discovering excellent care as a lady of colour with sicknesses usually thought of “invisible” and even pretend.
The intersections of poverty, race, class and gender with sickness and incapacity are complicated. To correctly navigate these points, it’s essential we hunt down those that have lived of their crossroads. Somewhat than middle Dunham’s slim expertise battling persistent sickness as a rich white lady, we should always go the mic to individuals with numerous experiences. And although our Twitter feeds ought to hardly be the place our engagement ends, it’s a great place to change into aware of intersectional points within the incapacity and persistent sickness communities.
Disabled Black girls like Vilissa Thompson, Keah Brown and Imani Barbarin spotlight the shortage of disabled individuals of colour within the media, the dearth of numerous voices inside the incapacity neighborhood, and the actual challenges Black disabled girls face. (Try #DisabilityTooWhite, #DisabledAndCute and #HealthcareWhileColored to see their affect in motion.) And analysis substantiates these girls’s experiences. Black individuals, and significantly Black girls, should not receiving equal well being care to their white counterparts. By and huge, medical doctors ignore Black girls’s ache and spend much less time with Black sufferers, each of which might trigger medical trauma and frustration when in search of assist for persistent sicknesses or disabilities. By means of Thompson, Brown and Barbarin, we study in regards to the experiences distinctive to Black disabled girls. Amplifying their voices encourages extra numerous, inclusive and consultant discourse from which everybody advantages.
The well being care battle within the U.S. could look like simply one other coverage debate to Lena Dunham and different rich People, however its implications are outrageously pricey for center class and poor chronically sick individuals. Azmia Magane and Porochista Khakpour each write about dwelling with persistent sicknesses and the way being sick is way from low cost ― it’s truly criminally, immorally costly. The highway to analysis for so-called “invisible” sicknesses like lupus, Lyme illness, fibromyalgia, endometriosis and others is a painstakingly tough and lengthy course of, and working a number of assessments and visiting a number of specialists takes an financial and emotional toll. I’ll allow you to guess what number of medical doctors advised me that my excruciating cramps had been simply “a part of being a lady” earlier than I used to be ultimately recognized with endometriosis.
Is Dunham able to being a part of a collective motion with out making an attempt to be its face?
In sharing their experiences, Magane and Khakpour additionally spotlight a problem that an awesome variety of People face: Round 79 million of us battle to pay our medical payments and have collected medical debt. A analysis can convey aid and validation, nevertheless it additionally brings a slew of medical payments to fund therapies, journeys, hospital stays and prescriptions. I’ve personally needed to decide and select which physician I can afford to see in a given month. Cash shouldn’t be a barrier in accessing high quality well being care ― and for Lena Dunham, it isn’t. Sufferers like Dunham, who can afford well being care and have enough insurance coverage, ought to be utilizing their privilege to advocate for common well being care and improve visibility of medical debt and its results.
Even activism itself is commonly inaccessible for a lot of who want to advocate for themselves. To fight this, Aditi Juneja, a lawyer and author, used her expertise as a lady with a incapacity to create the Resistance Handbook, an intersectional and accessible software that goals to assist English audio system educate themselves on American coverage points, set up round them and take motion. However most People who usually protest the Trump administration’s injustices don’t contemplate the dearth of accessibility in activist areas ― together with public marches. Mia Ives-Rublee is a disabled lady of colour and the founder and coordinator for the Ladies’s March on Washington Incapacity Caucus. Within the early days of the Ladies’s March, the motion centered round white girls, and even when girls of colour took the helm, incapacity rights had been absent from its platform. Ives-Rublee labored with the march’s co-chairs to make sure the motion included these rights.
Social justice actions, in the event that they want to be accessible to all, ought to embrace and have interaction with disabled individuals from the purpose of inception. Incapacity can intersect with any and all identities, and incapacity rights ought to be thought of integral in any activist house. If she actually needed to be an advocate, Lena Dunham may use her fame and entry to request conferences with leaders of a majority of these occasions and demand accessibility for the motion’s chronically sick and disabled members.
I’m not among the many most marginalized, nor can I probably embrace each individual’s distinctive expertise. I’m non-disabled, cisgender, have good insurance coverage (with excessive co-pays), someplace to reside, meals to eat and an awesome assist system. My experiences are thought of customary in a system not created to serve everybody. Trans and non-binary individuals, undocumented of us and indigenous individuals all have distinctive and vital experiences with persistent sickness and incapacity that additionally want amplification. What I and lots of others ask of Lena Dunham is easy: Personal your privilege and use it to amplify these whose voices are so usually pushed out into the margins, the place this method desires them to remain.
Reina Sultan is a younger skilled working in worldwide growth with a give attention to public well being. She is captivated with advocacy and illustration of intersectional and numerous voices.