There’s plenty to hate about Lena Dunham already—her infantile, grating narcissism, her dubious alignment with Taylor Swift’s girl squad, and every line she’s ever uttered as Hannah Horvath come to mind (I somehow watched every episode of Girls, so if you tell me you never wanted to smack her in the face, I know you’re lying). But through all that, the very low baseline Dunham set for herself has always been her early adoption of and staunch loyalty to the title of “feminist”. So, even if you hated her artistically and culturally, you could vaguely nod along to her railing against the patriarchy—until this week happened.
Last week, actress Aurora Perrineau came out with rape allegations against writer Murray Miller. Perrineau was 17 years old at the time of the alleged attack, and her story includes plenty of horrifying details about her alleged reminders to Murray of her underage status, her unease in his presence, and finally, her waking to Miller on top of her, “having sexual intercourse” with her. Is this story disgusting and horrifying? Yep. Is it at all surprising given
your experience of life as a woman the past few weeks of news we’ve had? Absolutely fucking not.
That is, of course, unless you’re Lena Dunham, and the writer involved happens to be a buddy of yours. In a statement to Variety, Dunham defended Murray, saying, “While our first instinct is to listen to every woman’s story, our insider knowledge of Murray’s situation makes us confident that sadly this accusation is one of the 3% of assault cases that are misreported every year.” Never mind that a few months ago, when Dunham was accused by an Instagram troll of fabricating a rape story of her own, she tweeted verbatim, “things women don’t lie about: rape.” Never mind that in a 2015 acceptance speech for Variety’s Power of Women award she said, “my ultimate goal is to use my experience, my platform, and yes, my privilege, to reverse stigma and give voice to other survivors.” Nope! Apparently, in this case, it’s “one of the 3 percent of assault cases that are misreported every year” based on the fact that she’s “worked closely with for more than half a decade.”
Thankfully, the backlash to this absurd statement has been swift and severe enough that Dunham has already issued an extensive apology, which you can read here if you really want to. But suffice it to say the damage has very much been done. The same “experience, platform, and privilege” she promised to wield
to accumulate wealth and fame in defense of other women was instead used to invalidate and humiliate a potential fellow survivor.
Zinzi Clemmons, a former writer for Dunham’s Lenny Letter, has already quit the publication, citing Dunham’s “known racism” and encouraging those who share her outrage to do the same. While I’ll go ahead and assume the readership here has minimal overlap with “people who work for Lena Dunham,” I’ll go ahead and encourage you to stop sponsoring Dunham’s existence in our collective consciousness, and start disabusing her of the notion that anyone gives a shit what she has to say anymore. And if there’s a larger lesson here, it’s that the world is not divided into “people you like” and “people who are rapists” (Sarah Silverman had a much more nuanced and appropriate reaction on this topic when her close friend Louis CK’s assault allegations came forward). What Lena Dunham did here was a bizarre perversion of the “boy’s club” mentality that’s protected so many rapists and criminals so far; only now, it’s friendship with very specific white ladies that gets you a pass. And if you don’t care about any of the other points I’ve made so far,
it’s likely you’re a psychopath think of Dunham’s discontinuation as a glorious opportunity to never see her face on your TV screen again. Please, let’s all be done(ham) with Dunham.