Lena Dunham Toasts Vaginas, Mormons, and Planned Parenthood at Sundance

Photo: Emily Hage

Ostensibly, Lena Dunham went to Sundance to promote her upcoming short documentary, It’s Me Hilary: The Man Who Drew Eloise, but much of her time in Utah has in fact been occupied using her witty, but ever-poignant voice to speak out on behalf of one of her (and our) favorite causes, the hard work done at Planned Parenthood to protect reproductive rights.

The belle of the ball, Lena Dunham, in her supercool Baseman x Coach sweater

Adding to the hype were the exclusive “Sex, Politics, and Film” tee-shirts designed by Rachel Antonoff (sister of Lena’s boyfriend Jack), whom she lovingly refers to as her “sister-in-law.” No need to restart the engagement rumors on this one.


Sunday evening at the Wahso Grill in Park City, Dunham addressed a high-profile crowd including Jill Soloway, Tig Notaro, Jessica Williams, Brie Larson, Mae Whitman, and Jay Duplass, about the profound influence her ongoing work with Planned Parenthood has had on her. Read the inspiring speech she gave below.

Thank you so much for being here. It’s so meaningful to be in a room full of like-minded people celebrating shared beliefs and a love of film and a love of politics. Caren Spruch has been an incredible collaborator, ushering me into the world of Planned Parenthood with kindness and patience and sensitivity, and I want to thank you.

If you look in your gift bags, you’ll find a very sexy, political cinematic T-shirt designed by my sister-in-law, Rachel Antonoff. You should know that there used to be people 69-ing on it, but we pulled back because we wanted it to be a wearable garment.

I’m so pleased you’re all here to celebrate Planned Parenthood with us. Working with Planned Parenthood was one of the most gratifying experiences of my life, as I’ve gotten to witness both their hands-on patient care and their political advocacy. They’ve given me the strength and knowledge to speak on issues that are important to me, and essential to women everywhere. They’ve helped so many women I love out of health and family planning crises, but they’ve also helped me as a filmmaker, and that’s what we’re here to discuss. As storytellers, we have a unique power to spread a message to advocate for the causes that are important to us.

For so many women, for so many people I know, that cause is reproductive health, rights, and justice. There is no overstating how important it is to see honest, non-stigmatizing storytelling that shows women tackling issues of reproductive health and choice. We don’t have to be preachy, didactic, or explicit—just honest. Planned Parenthood has the resources to help filmmakers do that. They have talked me through countless drafts, helped me understand the issues I’m exploring, and made sure that our language helps inform our viewers.

That is a very valuable gift, one I hope we can all benefit from. At the end of the day, depicting these honest stories about women dealing with huge choices should not be a political issue—it should be a human issue. I believe in the power of film and TV to make change. So do you, which is why we’re all here on a mountain surrounded by Mormons, wearing Ugg boots. So let’s put our hands together for what Planned Parenthood has done, and think hard about what we can do to fill our narratives with valuable truths, and of course, vaginas.


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