In a phone interview with CNN’s Kate Bolduan on Thursday to tout her upcoming interview with presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Girls creator Lena Dunham expressed her frustration at the media’s use of “really gendered” words like “warm,” “likeable,” and “relatable,” to describe the candidate—but then went on to emphasize how Hillary possesses precisely those qualities.
Really what we wanted was just to present Hillary — outside of being just a presidential candidate — as a feminist role model, as someone who represents so much of what is interesting and challenging and unique about being a woman in America at this time.
I do think we expect really different things in terms of likeability from our female candidates than we do from our male candidates. And that’s a longer conversation for another time. Which is why sometimes when people use terms like we want her to act “warm” or act “likeable” or act “relatable” those are frustrating terms for me because they seem really gendered and like different language than we might apply to a male candidate.
But when describing her interview with the candidate, Dunham focused on precisely those “gendered” characteristics, emphasizing Clinton’s “vulnerability” and “candor” and the struggles she shares with millennial women:
I really felt that in our time with Hillary, what she was able to express to us was a really great mix of honesty and candor about issues that are important to women and all of my generation and also a vulnerability and really making it clear that she is not superhuman, that she is someone who has had the range of experiences that all millennial women are currently struggling with.
Perhaps Dunham has a few “gendered” expectations of her own?