Lena Dunham Wrote A Touching Essay About Two Weddings That Took Place In Jail

Photo: Matt Baron/REX/Shutterstock.
To Lena Dunham, the ultimate expression of love is declaring your lifelong devotion to someone after they've committed a crime.

That's why a 1912 wedding announcement about two women who got married in jail on the same night inspired her to pen a New York Times essay on morality and forgiveness.

"There was a double wedding last evening in the Oneida County Jail at Rome," the announcement read. "Jessie Hanson and Tony Lemma and Sam Marziali and Flora Granger were the bridal couples. The women are serving short sentences, and, as their time is still unexpired, will have to spend the first part of their honeymoon in jail. The husbands are not prisoners."

Reading about prisoners led Dunham to reflect on the behaviours she penalises herself for, like showing up late for lunch and getting her friends' coffee orders wrong. Women, she believes, are particularly prone to judging themselves for failing to please others.

But she knows she deserves love despite it all, and we all do — even criminals.

"The article gives no indication as to what Jessie and Flora did," she explains. "Steal candy? Punch members of a rival girl gang? Solicit sex?"

That didn't matter to their grooms, though. "Despite, or maybe because of, their lovers’ indiscretions, they insisted on marrying them right there in what would be considered by many, especially in 1912, the most shameful place on earth," she wrote. "They didn’t need them to be good girls. They were their girls. Love is not merely the domain of those who get your latte order right. It’s for everyone, everywhere, imperfect as one may be. A honeymoon in a jail cell is still a honeymoon."
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