On Tuesday night in Manhattan, Lena Dunham and Susan Sarandon, two of the most outspoken celebrity advocates of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, shared the same podium, but neither addressed the donkey in the room. Instead, they talked about their uteruses.
Speaking at the eighth annual Blossom Ball benefiting the Endometriosis Foundation of America, Dunham and Sarandon were honored for bringing awareness to the disease.
“I have been talking to Lena about this disease for at least two years now,” Padma Lakshmi, who co-founded the EFA told Variety. “She’s an oversharer to begin with so that works in our favor.”
Dunham, Sarandon, and Lakshmi all suffer from endometriosis, a painful disease in which cells that usually line the uterus grow in other parts of the body. In March, Dunham was hospitalized after suffering from a ruptured ovarian cyst, and took time off from her growing media empire that includes a hit television show, bestselling book, production company, widely-read newsletter, and newly established publishing imprint. Now, she’s back, and diving into the sixth season of “Girls.”
“We start shooting in two weeks,” Dunham told Variety. “I’m directing the first two episodes, so I will be back in a van tomorrow, checking out locations, looking at pictures of costumes, we’re back in the mix. I feel great.”
Accepting the award, presented by “Girls” actress Allison Williams, Dunham thanked her own body for hanging in there.
“I guess I would have probably preferred an award of like pole vaulting or an Oscar but thank you, I guess,” Dunham said. “I guess I’d like to start by thanking my uterine tissue for growing in places where it shouldn’t. I’d like give a shout out to my fallopian tubes for their hard work, I’d like to thank my ovaries, you know I love you ovaries, I’ve been pretty bitchy and weird for the last 15 years. And mostly I’d like to thank my bladder and my urethral sphincter for holding up through some rough times this year. So I’m feeling really good, and my team has just been amazing, and I have to give love to my team.”
Although the event was not overtly political, Dunham called for more money for women’s health research, and encouraged those at the gala to donate.
“Guess what?,” Dunham said. “Medical research is really misogynistic. Endo effects about 10% of women and last year the NIH spent less than $10 million on research, and they’ve sunk far more money into a disease that affects far fewer people, and I think that’s because of the stigma that surrounds reproductive health in this country.”
Accepting her award, Sarandon commended Dunham for discussing her experience.
“This is such a cultural subversive thing because we are taught to put up with these things, and this is a part of being a woman,” Sarandon said. “And it really now is something people aren’t ashamed to talk about.”