I can’t believe I’m actually covering this because a few days ago, I swore that this story was just too awful and stupid to engage with. But the whole thing has taken on a life of its own, so let’s go through it. Lena Dunham wrote a book called Not That Kind of Girl. It’s a memoir and she describes many incidents of her childhood, her college years and her early adulthood. We’ve already found out that she was sort-of date-raped and that as a child, she refused to sleep by herself for years and years. This week, conservative sites latched on to other excerpts from the book, specifically about Lena’s relationship with her younger sister and Lena’s childlike curiosity with her body and her sister’s body.
The whole controversy this week started when the National Review published the full text of their cover story on Dunham, which I previewed a few weeks back. The most incendiary parts, the parts calling Dunham a “child molester,” are located at the end of Page 1 and onto Page 2. The discussion is NSFW, just beware. To be fair to the National Review, Lena did jokingly refer to herself as a “sexual predator” when it came to her sister Grace. After the National Review published their full piece, most media and entertainment sites covered it as “Is Lena Dunham a child molester?” And “Did Lena Dunham molest her younger sister?” My take: no, it’s not molestation. Whatever happened between the Dunham sisters is a combination of healthy childhood curiosity and stupid hipster parenting, where every urge, thought and action of special snowflake Lena Dunham was accepted, encouraged and recorded for posterity.
The Frisky wrote a great piece on the real problems of Lena’s admissions – go here to read. Lena was never taught to respect boundaries and she was clearly never taught to treat her sister like a separate person, with her own agency and ability to consent. Lena was also never taught that some private family stories are just that: private family stories that should not be shared in a book, where they can easily be misinterpreted and made even more controversial. I have private family stories that would sound horrible if I ever tried to write about them… which is why I don’t write about them. But I’m not Lena Dunham, who needs attention like she needs air.
Lena responded initially to the controversy by tweeting out a “rage spiral” and claiming that her sister was “laughing so hard” at the situation. Grace Dunham also tweeted about the situation, basically saying that the media was trying to police what “women” said about their own experiences. Then yesterday, Lena canceled the remaining European stops of her book tour and issued this statement:
I am dismayed over the recent interpretation of events described in my book Not That Kind of Girl.
First and foremost, I want to be very clear that I do not condone any kind of abuse under any circumstances.
Childhood sexual abuse is a life-shattering event for so many, and I have been vocal about the rights of survivors. If the situations described in my book have been painful or triggering for people to read, I am sorry, as that was never my intention. I am also aware that the comic use of the term “sexual predator” was insensitive, and I’m sorry for that as well.
As for my sibling, Grace, she is my best friend, and anything I have written about her has been published with her approval.
Well, I hope everyone is happy. Lena got the attention and controversy she craved, her book sales are probably through the roof and media-elite types are bending over backwards to defend her. This is her comfort zone. She’s going to be fine. Although this is probably one small bad sign: The Daily Beast had a great piece called “Will White Feminists Finally Dump Lena Dunham?” Don’t be silly!
Photos courtesy of WENN.