Dunham’s Extraordinary Contrition

The brouhaha kicked up by the actress Lena Dunham complaining that New York Giants’ Odell Beckham Jr. failed to somehow objectify her is interesting to me because of American history.

The issue of black-male interaction with white females in American history has always been historically problematic—Emmett Till, may God rest his soul, paid for this offense with his life, as have many uppity black men who had to temerity to look at white women and sometimes even talked to them.

Dunham’s apology was as extraordinarily contrite as her initial reaction to Beckham’s apparent inattention to her was obtuse.

Lena Dunham at the 2016 Met Gala
Lena Dunham at the 2016 Met Gala

Dunham had published on her website Lenny Letter newsletter an interview with comedian Amy Schumer about an encounter with Beckham that did not go the way she would have wished.

The occasion was the 2016 Met Gala and Dunham and Schumer talked about feeling out of place there. Beckham, too, was there and it seemed that he ignored Dunham. This is how Dunham related the experience to Schumer:

You and I were literally sitting across from each other at the Met Ball, and it was so surreal to get to do that.

I was sitting next to Odell Beckham Jr., and it was so amazing because it was like he looked at me and he determined I was not the shape of a woman by his standards. He was like, ‘That’s a marshmallow. That’s a child. That’s a dog.’ It wasn’t mean — he just seemed confused.

The vibe was very much like, ‘Do I want to fuck it? Is it wearing a … yep, it’s wearing a tuxedo. I’m going to go back to my cell phone.’ It was like we were forced to be together, and he literally was scrolling Instagram rather than have to look at a woman in a bow tie. I was like, ‘This should be called the Metropolitan Museum of Getting Rejected by Athletes.’

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