When did female empowerment become female infantilization? Women once were encouraged to be strong and independent, to brush aside insensitive words and actions and to emerge stronger. But now, politicians, pundits, even celebrities are feeding an outrage machine by telling women they should be offended by anything and everything. The latest example comes from actress Lena Dunham, famous not only for her HBO show “Girls” but also for a 2012 political ad comparing voting for the first time to losing one’s virginity. Last week, Dunham told NPR that the phrase “too much information” — “TMI” for short — is a sexist phrase that “trivializes female experiences.” What Dunham doesn’t appear to realize is that by claiming common phrases are sexist, women are actually being told that they need to be protected from free speech and that they should be offended more often because they are somehow being oppressed by that speech. This reinforces the idea that women are overly fragile and sensitive — an image that feminists supposedly have been fighting for decades.
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