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What's remarkable, and often enviable, about Lena Dunham is her ability to view herself as a case study. For the Girls writer and star, life is a series of lessons learned -- or completely ignored and revisited later, with a wisdom gained from distance and humor. Chris Kraus, author of the landmark feminist book I Love Dick wrote, "Study's good, because it microcosms everything -- if you understand everything within the walls of what you study you can identify other walls too, other areas of study."
This is why Not That Kind of Girl, out today via Random House, is so important. When Lena Dunham talks about her failed sex, her joyous sex, and her past relationships -- in addition to chapters dedicated to her body, her work, and friendship -- it becomes a bible for young and confused girls everywhere. She's not that kind of girl because her experience can speak to so many different kinds of girls. A cringe-worthy story that starts with Xanax and ends with a condom in a tree, is a secret handshake from Lena Dunham to every woman who has dated a weirdo asshole. It's a handshake that signals, "Hey, it's okay to love yourself -- and expect nothing less from anyone else."
The first section of Not That Kind of Girl, nearly one-hundred pages, is dedicated to Love & Sex. Here's our favorite tidbits of advice from the chapter, below.
On losing her virginity to "a guy who dressed vaguely like a middle-aged lesbian at a beer-and-cheese party:"
"I was sure that once I let someone penetrate me, my world would change in some indescribable yet fundamental way. I would never be able to hug my parents with the same innocence, and being alone with myself would have a different tenor... How permanent virginity feels, and then how inconsequential. After Jonah, I could barely remember the sensation of lack, the embarrassment, and the feelings of urgency."
On "platonic bed sharing: a great idea (for people who hate themselves):"
"Here's who it's not okay to share a bed with:
Anyone who makes you feel like you're invading their space. Anyone who tells you that they 'just can't be alone right now.' Anyone who doesn't make you feel like sharing a bed is the coziest and most sensual activity they could possibly be undertaking (unless, of course, it is one of the aforementioned relatives; in that case, they should act lovingly but also reserved/slightly annoyed.
Now, look over at the person beside you. Do they meet these criteria? If not, remove them or remove yourself. You're better off alone."
On things regrettably said flirtatiously:
"I'm the kind of person who should probably date older guys, but I can't deal with their balls."
On writing (and annotating) the worst email ever:
"Like, the last six times we've spoken it has ended with a series of long silences where I say something, then another thing to modify it, then I sort of apologize, then I sort of unapologize. That would be a funny scene in an indie rom-com.*
*Ironic references to rom-coms are a great way to show that you are NOT the kind of girl/woman who cares about romantic conventions."
On liking jerks and loving yourself:
"When someone shows you how little you mean to them and you keep coming back for more, before you know it you start to mean less to yourself. You are not made up of compartments! You are one whole person! What gets said to you gets said to all of you, ditto to what gets done. Being treated like shit is not an amusing game or a transgressive intellectual experiment. It's something you accept, condone and believe you deserve. This is so simple. But I tried to make it so hard."
Not That Kind of Girl is out now.