NEW YORK — Lena Dunham, the creator and star of the hit HBO show “Girls”, spoke out over the weekend after a slew of reports from conservative websites slamming the content in her recently released memoir.
Piggy-backing off a comprehensive and scathing review of the book by columnist Kevin D. Williamson for “National Review” magazine, TruthRevolt accused Dunham of molesting her younger sister under the headline: “Lena Dunham Describes Sexually Abusing Her Little Sister.”
The passages that appalled both outlets were taken from Dunham’s new memoir, “Not that Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s ‘Learned’“. In the book, Dunham describes the following encounter that occurred when she was 7 years old and her sister Grace was 1:
One day, as I sat in our driveway in Long Island playing with blocks and buckets, my curiosity got the best of me. Grace was sitting up, babbling and smiling, and I leaned down between her legs and carefully spread open her vagina. … My mother didn’t bother asking why I had opened Grace’s vagina. This was within the spectrum of things I did.
The prose distressed Williamson, who wrote, “There is no non-horrific interpretation of this episode.”
Among others, the following passage describing additional encounters between Dunham and her sister also seemed to offend TruthRevolt and Williamson:
“As (Grace) grew, I took to bribing her for her time and affection: one dollar in quarters if I could do her makeup like a ‘motorcycle chick.’ Three pieces of candy if I could kiss her on the lips for five seconds. Whatever she wanted to watch on TV if she would just ‘relax on me.’ Basically, anything a sexual predator might to do to a small suburban girl I was trying.”
TruthRevolt called it “disturbing” that Dunham would use her younger sister as a “sexual outlet.” Those insinuations sent Dunham into what she called a “rage spiral” on Twitter over the weekend.
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.
— Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) November 1, 2014
And by the way, if you were a little kid and never looked at another little kid's vagina, well, congrats to you.
— Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) November 1, 2014
To be clear, TruthRevolt’s mission statement claims its goals are to “unmask leftists in the media for who they are, destroy their credibility with the American public and devastate their funding bases.” Williamson, meanwhile, has been an editor at two different conservative news outlets and is an adjunct professor at The King’s College in New York, which is consistently rated as one of the nation’s most conservative.
It’s no secret that Dunham’s political views fall on the opposite end of the spectrum, giving conservative pundits plenty of motivation to call her actions into question. In addition to making a campaign ad for President Obama, Dunham poked fun at so-called men’s right activists on Saturday Night Live earlier this year.
Though reviews of Dunham’s book have been more benign among outlets with no political affiliation, another section of the book has reportedly raised red flags on the campus of Dunham’s alma mater, Oberlin College.
In that section of the book, Dunham claimed to have been sexually assaulted by a “mustachioed campus Republican” named Barry on a “college-owned” property when she was 19 years old.
In describing the incident, Dunham wrote she was drunk and high on a combination of Xanax and cocaine and didn’t heed warnings before inviting her alleged assailant into her apartment. Though she said the sexual encounter began in a consensual fashion, it progressed to a level of violence that went against her wishes.
Though Dunham indicated she never reported the incident to police or campus security, she did write that she visited a doctor after incurring injuries stemming from the incident.
Dunham also wrote that she knew of two other women who had been assaulted by the same individual, saying he struck one student at a party and left another with a “blood-spattered wall” after a consensual sexual encounter.
An Oberlin College spokesperson told Breitbart, another conservative news outlet, that administrators were “looking at the information we have” regarding the passage in Dunham’s book. Another college administrator told the website that an investigation into the incident would only go forward “if (Dunham) wants it to go forward.”
Considering the statue of limitations for sexual assault in Ohio is 20 years and the Dunham indicated the incident occurred in 2008, it would technically be within the realm of possibility for her to file criminal charges. However, considering the deterioration of evidence that has likely occurred over the last six years, pressing charges would almost certainly be a futile effort for the actress.
Unlike her popular HBO series, Dunham has described her memoir as a “work of nonfiction” in which “some names and identifying details have been changed.” However, she also wrote that she considers herself an “unreliable narrator”, which seems to suggest she may have taken creative licenses at some points during the book.
However, the actress has told several media outlets that the sexual assault on Oberlin’s campus is not fiction. Though she had doubts about detailing the experience in her memoir, Dunham said she felt the story needed to be told in light of the fact that reported sexual assaults are on the rise on college campuses across the country.
Though Dunham has never explicitly named her alleged assailant, in his column for the “National Review” Williamson claimed he was able to track down that individual on the basis of details Dunham provided in the book. Williamson claimed that the individual was aware of Dunham’s allegations and offered no comment.