Lena Dunham, for better or worse, is considered one of the most prominent feminist voices around right now. But she’s also a human, and a flawed one at that. Dunham was recently called out for her contradictory relationship with photographer Terry Richardson who was, up until this week, the boyfriend of her best friend Audrey Gelman. Richardson is no stranger to bad press: He’s been accused of taking advantage of some of the young models he’s worked with, and several, including model Rie Rassmussen and Coco Rocha, have spoken out publicly against his behavior.
And Dunham, for all her feminist chops, has definitely worked with Richardson in the past, allowing him to shoot her for an editorial spread ironically titled “girl power.”
The unlikely friendship between Richardson and Dunham became the object of scorn and consternation earlier this week when blogger Michelle Malkin took Dunham to task for making statements critical of R. Kelly and women who worked with him, without first examining her own behavior. It all unfolded over Twitter, naturally.
There’s still a sense that being down with the predatory behavior of guys makes you chill, a girl with a sense of humor, a girl who can hang
— Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) December 16, 2013
Dunham was speaking, of course, of Lady Gaga’s collaboration with Kelly, the song “Do What U Want.” But then feminist blogger Malkin questioned whether she shouldn’t be examining her own contradictory behavior, considering her prior collaborations with Richardson.
Someone implied my statement about R Kelly was invalid because I’ve had my photograph taken by Terry Richardson — Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) December 19, 2013
I responded asking that my feminism not be picked apart because of one PR experience. You don’t learn to say no overnight. — Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) December 19, 2013
Any man who takes advantage of any woman sickens me. That’s all and that’s always. No debate. — Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) December 19, 2013
— Michelle Malkin (@michellemalkin) December 19, 2013
After that, Dunham left the conversation.
Coincidentally or not, Dunham’s BFF Audrey Gelman and Richardson announced their split on the same day. Dunham is hardly the only self-professed feminist to work with Richardson: Oprah, Beyoncé, and Lady Gaga have all been shot by the controversial photographer (and they’re all women famous enough to request not to work with him). But as a woman who professes to be a voice of a generation (even jokingly so), she’s definitely got to be careful about who she chooses to associate with.