If you haven’t been paying attention to pop culture the last couple of years, you may have missed the feminist-writer-actress that is Lena Dunham. She’s known for her strong feminist views, writing/starring in her own show at the age of 25 (Girls on HBO), and being naked on her TV show a lot…for no reason.
She stirred up enough noise around herself that she actually did a commercial for President Obama’s 2nd presidential campaign. In the commercial, she describes what you want your first time to be like…voting. Though, from the initial language, you might get the impression that she’s writing about something else.
Her new book has gotten her in more trouble than ever…
She recently sold her first book, Not That Kind of Girl, with an advance deal of $3,700,000. I don’t know how much these B-level star book deals normally go for, but that seems like an awful lot to me. The book came out back in September to much acclaim. In particular, people celebrated her openness about being a rape survivor. I didn’t hear much about it for about six weeks, and then something interesting happened October 29th…
Conservative blogger, Ben Shapiro, ran an article on truthrevolt.org (a conservative blog) titled, “Lena Dunham Describes Sexually Abusing Her Little Sister ‘…anything a sexual predator might do to woo a small suburban girl I was trying.”
The article quotes sections of Dunham’s book where she talked about her sexual curiosity and desire to derive affection from her six year old sister when she was seven years old. Due to the graphic nature of what she did, I won’t give a detailed summary of the behavior, but it’s safe to say that her actions easily would be categorized as sexual abuse if her gender was different, or if there was a bigger age range.
Or, to quote Dunham on how she would describe the interactions:
“…anything a sexual predator might do to woo a small suburban girl I was trying.”
This led other Conservative blogs to dig deeper into the book’s stories and, in true internet form, the story quickly exploded all over. To be fair, the original blogs were intentionally written to give the least benefit of the doubt to a Liberal. They were trying to paint her in a bad light but, to be equally fair, they did so by quoting Dunham.
LENA DUNHAM’S RESPONSE
Eventually, this all got back to Dunham, and she was not terribly happy about being accused of sexually abusing her sister. This led to an angry Twitter rant!
The right wing news story that I molested my little sister isn’t just LOL-it’s really ****ing upsetting and disgusting.
And by the way, if you were a little kid and never looked at another little kid’s vagina, well, congrats to you.
Usually this stuff I can ignore but don’t demean sufferers, don’t twist my words, back the **** up bros.
I told a story about being a weird 7 year old. I bet you have some too, old men, that I’d rather not hear. And yes, this is a rage spiral.
Then, on Saturday, Lena Dunham sent a “cease and desist” letter to Truth Revolt, threatening them with legal action. Based on their response HERE, it does not appear that will be happening anytime soon.
Then, yesterday, she canceled several planned book tour stops in Europe.
HOW SHOULD WE RESPOND
Sexual abuse, also referred to as molestation, is forcing undesired sexual behavior by one person upon another. When that force is immediate, of short duration, or infrequent, it is called sexual assault. The offender is referred to as a sexual abuser or (often pejoratively) molester. – Wikipedia
- Sexual behavior occurred
- One person forced the incident upon the other
- The “HOW DARE YOU SAY THAT ABOUT ME!” defense doesn’t cut it!
- The “KIDS WILL BE KIDS” defense doesn’t cut it!
- The “I WAS JUST TELLING A STORY ABOUT BEING A WEIRD KID” defense doesn’t cut it!
The narrative in her mind seems to be, “Why are all these old conservative men trying to bully me, and ruin my reputation? This is because I’m a feminist and a liberal!” It doesn’t seem that she has ever stopped to consider that she openly admitted to engaging in sexual activity with her six year old sister by manipulating her!
Certainly, if her name wasn’t in the headline, she would realize that is read flag behavior.
Our responses to things really matter.
My hope is that, in the aftermath of this, Lena Dunham will have more self-awareness about how dangerous her response has been up to this point.
Shrugging this off normalizes RED FLAG behavior, and creates more confusion for victims. There are millions of people who were sexually abused as children. Someone did the exact same things to them that Dunham did to her sister. All of her defenses of her actions water down the impact of those horrific stories of abuse. They tell abusers that their behavior was normal, and they tell victims that nothing wrong really happened.
We must take QUESTIONABLE activity with children seriously. Why wouldn’t we take Dunham’s story as disturbing?