Lena Dunham In Hot Seat
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Lena Dunham In Hot Seat

The real question: Is her real-life Jewish boyfriend peeved?

Hannah Dreyfus is a staff writer at the New York Jewish Week. She covers abuses of power in non-profit and religious settings. She heads up the Investigative Journalism Fund, an initiative to fill a gap in investigative and enterprise reporting. Reach her at hannah@jewishweek.org

Jewish actress and screenwriter Lena Dunham seems to have barked up the wrong tree.

The “Girls” star has come under fire for penning an article in The New Yorker titled “Dog or Jewish Boyfriend? A Quiz.”

The piece, which ran in the March 30th issue, asks, “Do the following statements refer to (a) my dog or (b) my Jewish boyfriend?”

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) reacted by calling the article “tasteless” and “offensive.”

“Humor is a matter of taste, and people can disagree if it is funny or not,” wrote Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. “Some will certainly find offensive Lena Dunham’s stereotypes about cheap Jews offensive. Others will take issue with the very idea of comparing a dog and a Jewish boyfriend.

"The piece is particularly troubling because it evokes memories of the “No Jews or Dogs Allowed signs from our own early history in this country, and also because, in a much more sinister way, many in the Muslim world today hatefully refer to Jews as “dogs.”

Dunham’s mother is Jewish and her father is Protestant; she has described herself in the past as “very culturally Jewish.” Her real-life boyfriend, Bleachers lead singer Jack Antonoff, is also Jewish.

The article includes tidbits like “He doesn’t tip. And he never brings his wallet anywhere.” Another portion of the article adds “…he comes from a culture in which mothers focus every ounce of their attention on their offspring and don’t acknowledge their own need for independence as women. They are sucked dry by their children, who ultimately leave them as soon as they find suitable mates.”

Dunham in not one to hold her tongue. In the past, she has made headlines for controversial comments about sensitive subjects including rape and molestations.

Fans and critics of Dunham reacted strongly to this article.

Jordana Horn wrote in Kveller, "I suppose Lena Dunham feels that she has some sort of humor EZ Pass, and The New Yorker has indulged her in that thinking. You know, because apparently Jews are a group you can make fun of …"

She goes on to write, "imagine this same essay entitled, 'Dog or Black Boyfriend? A Quiz.' Much easier to imagine that essay running in a Ku Klux Klan newsletter than The New Yorker, am I right? But somehow, a piece like this running in The New Yorker in 2015 is supposed to be OK with us."

Others took to Twitter to protest.

“Big fan Lena but was sad to see you use such crappy stereotypes of Jewish ppl for this article,” tweeted one angered fan.

“I am horrified by the casual anti-semitism in @lenadunham's article. It's just not funny comparing Jews to dogs, period. Shame on you,” wrote another.

The article did have some defenders. @Variety opined that the controvery is a "sad reflection on how strong a stranglehold political correctness has on this country."

hannah@jewishweek.org

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