Lena Dunham's biggest haters are Bernie fans: "I’m going to turn into a shaking ogre woman" over smears from fellow Dems

The prominent Clinton supporter says she faces more hostility from her peers than the right wing over the election

By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Published March 21, 2016 8:03PM (EDT)

Lena Dunham   (AP/Danny Moloshok)
Lena Dunham (AP/Danny Moloshok)

When you think of all the horrible things that have been said to and about Lena Dunham, you'd have to wonder if she'd be hard-pressed to pick the sources of some of the really outstanding stuff. This after all is a woman who's been called am incestuous sex abuser for memoir revelations like bribing her sister for kisses when they were children. A woman who, in her own estimation, has routinely been described as "fat and hideous." One whose veiled description of a man she says sexually assaulted her in college led conservative sites to call her a "rape hoaxer." So who was she talking about this weekend, when she mentioned a group that has been giving very very special grief of late? "Other members of the Democratic Party." Oh, it Berns. It Berns.

I swear to God I don't know how we're all going to make it to November. This terrifying fiasco of an election year would be bad enough if the only thing we had to worry about was the Orange One. But the way that those of us who call ourselves liberal have become caught up in the ugly Hillary v. Bernie race is just exhausting. At least there's some consolation in knowing that apparently everybody else is in the crosshairs too. Variety reports that at a weekend Clinton campaign event in Hollywood, the "Girls" creator and star said decisively that "I have received more hostility for voting for a qualified female candidate than I have ever received anywhere from the American right wing." That's quite a feat, considering the National Review has accused her of "building an ever-thicker cocoon of fantasy, prescription drugs, and weaponized celebrity, [and] manipulating reality to her own specifications," and Truth Revolt has called her a child molester.

Dunham, who appeared at the event with Chelsea Clinton and actress America Ferrera, went on to describe how on Instagram, a Sanders fan who "obviously had no avatar" commented to her recently that Bernie Sanders had done more for feminism than Hillary Clinton ever had — an observation that led Dunham to lose her "freaking mind." She went on to say that "The fact that other members of the Democratic Party have spoken to me like I was an ill informed child for voting for someone who represents everything I think this country should be is outrageous…. The idea that you’re gonna tell me that the woman who stepped into the White House when I was 6 years old and made me think it was possible to live the life I wanted and say the things I believed has somehow not done enough for women is so offensive to the core of my being." She concluded, "I’m going to stop talking now because I’m going to turn into a shaking ogre woman."

In recent months, the phenomenon of Bernie Bros has become a sore spot in a campaign year of unlimited festering wounds. First, there came the identification of the species — described last fall in the Atlantic with the explanation that "The Berniebro is not every Bernie Sanders supporter. Sanders’s support skews young, but not particularly male. The Berniebro is male, though. Very male." Then there came the stories of that particular strain Bernie fans — who Elon James White says, "harass and try to take away the credibility from the people who question Mr. Sanders." Mashable likewise reported on the growing "sexist mob" of Sanders supporters. Then of course came the Bernie Bros deniers, like the Huffington Post piece announcing they were a myth created by "angry white people supporting Hillary"or the Glenn Greenwald story calling the term "an all-purpose, handy pro-Clinton smear." 

Last month, Sanders told his more troll-centric fans that "We don’t want that crap" and that "Anybody who is supporting me that is doing the sexist things — we don’t want them." And while the responses Dunham's received from Sanders fans sound more like everyday mansplaining than full-on "crap," they do speak to something Jessica Grose talked about earlier this year in Dunham's Lenny Letter — the infuriating assumption that women who support Hillary are somehow doing so under orders from their confused little lady reproductive systems. And it's one thing when your ostensible idealogical opponents are condescending to you like it, it's quite another when you're hearing it from the other members of your own political party.

So to be clear — whether you're commenting on a total stranger's Instagram or God forbid reading your fellow Democrats' Facebook pages or talking among your friends, pace yourself and believe that anyone who isn't supporting Trump has probably the political process through and is voting for the person they believe in. And remember we've got months yet to go, and none of us want to spend them as shaking ogres.

Mary Elizabeth Williams

Mary Elizabeth Williams is a senior writer for Salon and author of "A Series of Catastrophes & Miracles."

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America Ferrara Bernie Bros Bernie Sanders Chelsea Clinton Hillary Clinton Lena Dunham