In Depth

Lena Dunham to launch feminist newsletter – but is it needed?

Lifestyle brand Lenny will be unapologetically honest and cover topics from radical politics to Rihanna

Lena Dunham has announced the launch of her own email newsletter for young women covering feminism, style, health, politics, friendship and "everything else".

The actress and creator of hit HBO series Girls will be collaborating with the show's executive producer Jenni Conner to launch Lenny in September, with the pair promising a similar no-holds-barred approach. 

The 29-year-old told Buzzfeed that her team wanted to use the weekly newsletter to appeal to women with a diverse range of interests. "People who want to talk about radical politics but also want to talk about fashion and also want to talk about Rihanna, and also understand that all of those things can be happening at the same time," she said. 

Email newsletters have made a comeback in recent years and the one-directional media format has obvious benefits. Dunham has been the target of a tidal wave of online abuse, particularly during the last year. 

The plan is for Lenny to eventually become a fully-fledged website, but without the traditional comment section. It will be a way "to remember that the internet has the power to take you into quiet places – something we don't usually use it for," said Dunham.

However, as many commentators quickly pointed out, the world of female celebrity newsletters is becoming increasingly crowded. There's Blake Lively's Preserve, Reese Witherspoon's Draper James and of course Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop.

"We love Goop," Dunham said. "Jenni and I have always been obsessed with Goop. We feel strongly that even if some of it is aspirational, it’s aspirations like 'I want to know how to take care of my body and soufflé something.'"

The market for mainstream online feminist magazines is equally saturated, with Jezebel and The Vagenda attracting legions of millennial fans.

However, Dunham is clear on how Lenny will differentiate itself from its competitors. "The internet feminism conversation can be very exclusive," she said. "And it saddens me to see that a lot of the competition is about saying 'you're not feminist enough': trying to kick people out of feminism rather than bring them in." Dunham believes Lenny will be an opportunity to say: "There are many different types of feminisms, and we can work together.'"

But The Guardian's Eleanor Robertson isn't convinced. "Do young, intellectually curious women really require another friendly, middlebrow publication that centres their existing concerns and interests?" she asks.

"Characterising another product in this vein as new or exciting suggests that Dunham has drunk her own Kool-Aid, and believes that her ideas, and those she finds interesting, are what is missing from the offerings currently available."

There are growing concerns that these types of online feminist spaces only cater to a narrow band of readers – namely white, privileged women with academic backgrounds. Some have called for an intersectional platform that addresses the concerns of marginalised groups, such as the LGBT communities and women of colour.

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