Largely based on the format of a how-to book she stumbled on at a thrift shop, Dunham’s essays in Not That Kind of Girl offer unexpected wisdom. The most impactful stories delve into what-not-to-dos, rather than to-dos. In an email to a once-boyfriend, Dunham wrote, “I’m sorry not to you, but in a deeper way, sorry for my brain chemistry and who I am.” There is humor in her revelations, but also the tragedy of a girl in all of her ferocity, denying her power.

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Yes, it can be safe to travel as a woman — even alone, but you can’t be naïve about it. If you want to be safe, there are four major things to consider before going anywhere:

1. Where are you traveling, and what do you know about the place?
2. What are you doing there?
3. Do you attract attention / do you stick out?
4. Can you get help from authorities if you need it?

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