Artist Molly Crabapple Refuses to Work With Lena Dunham On Newsletter Project

Lena Dunham. Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty.

A lot of artists would probably be elated to receive a personal invitation to collaborate with Lena Dunham on her much-publicized upcoming newsletter project Lenny, but not artist, writer, and activist Molly Crabapple, who recently received an email from the team.

Why did Crabapple turn down an invitation to provide illustrations for the project, which Dunham describes as “your over sharing Internet friend who will yell at you about your finances, help you choose a bathing suit, lamp, president AND tell you what to do if you need an abortion?”

Molly Crabapple. Courtesy the artist.

Molly Crabapple. Courtesy the artist.

Crabapple takes issue with Dunham’s decision to sign her name on a letter recently sent to Amnesty International urging the organization to change its proposed policy on sex work. The policy, which comes as a result of a two-year study on the best way to protect the rights of sex workers, seeks to decriminalize sex work and thereby thwart the abuse of sex workers around the world at the hands of corrupt police officers.

In an open letter posted on her Tumblr, Crabapple writes: “I can’t be involved in any project helmed by Lena Dunham as long as she supports that petition condemning Amnesty International’s decriminalization of sex work.”

“Amnesty International’s support of decriminalization is a hopeful, vital thing…police enact violence on sex workers and trafficking victims alike. They rape, steal from, beat, extort, and arrest both sex workers and trafficking victims. Decriminalization is an important step to stopping this.”

Crabapple notes that Dunham and the other celebrities who signed the petition (including Anne Hathaway, Emily Blunt, and Kate Winslet) likely support it because it only calls for the criminalization of clients and managers, not workers.

“However, this model,” Crabapple writes, “is far from benign. It thwarts any attempts by sex workers to control their own working conditions. It leads to stigma, impoverishment, sex workers being evicted from their homes, and sex workers charged with “pimping” when they choose to work together for security.”

The letter signed by Dunham and others argues that decriminalizing sex work entirely will lead to further sex trafficking. “What your ‘Draft Policy on Sex Work’ is incomprehensibly proposing is the wholesale decriminalization of the sex industry, which in effect legalizes pimping, brothel owning, and sex buying,” the letter to Amnesty International reads.

Crabapple calls Dunham out on being a “proud, prominent young feminist” who hasn’t bothered to do research on the issue before attaching her name to it, and calls for the actress, screenwriter, and cultural icon to remove her name from the letter. Dunham has yet to comment on the issue.

Related stories:

Molly Crabapple’s Animated Primer on How to Talk About Ferguson

Artist Molly Crabapple Sneaks Into Future Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Site to Interview Workers

Lena Dunham and Miranda July Talk Taboos

Lena Dunham Reluctantly Decides to Pay Book Tour Perfomers


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