[Content note: child sexual abuse]*
My Daily Dot piece about Lena Dunham went up yesterday, but I was out walking 14 miles of Manhattan so I didn’t have time to link it here. This was published before Dunham released her statement, which partially (but not nearly entirely) addresses some of my concerns.
Lena Dunham’s recently released memoir, Not That Kind of Girl, has stirred up a lot of controversy, and probably not the controversy that Dunham hoped to stir up.
Several passages in the book detail the Girls creator and actress’ childhood sexual experimentation with her sister, Grace, who is six years younger. After a conservative writer quoted the passages and accused Dunham of sexual abuse, the internet exploded.
The passages describe Lena Dunham playing with her sister’s vagina when Dunham was seven and her sister was one year old. She also writes about bribing her sister with candy so that she could kiss her on the lips and masturbating in bed next to her. Their mother was aware of at least some of the behavior, but apparently didn’t think much of it. “My mother didn’t bother asking why I had opened Grace’s vagina,” she writes. “This was within the spectrum of things I did.”
Not all of Dunham’s critics have been conservative columnists, however. Many women, especially women of color, have been active on Twitter, discussing the passages and how they exemplify the abuse that others have faced in childhood. These critics have started a hashtag called #DropDunham, calling on Planned Parenthood to end its partnership with her:
— Lauren Chief Elk (@ChiefElk) November 3, 2014
#DropDunham because having her as a face of anti-violence & “feminism” validates, excuses, dismisses, and encourages her predatory behavior
— Molly Grüesome (@mizblossom) November 3, 2014
Meanwhile, others think there’s nothing wrong with Dunham’s actions:
My little sister and I took baths together until we were 5 & 6. Pretty sure we examined each other’s junk closely. Sheesh. #LenaDunham
— Dan Savage (@fakedansavage) November 2, 2014
if yr denunciation of Lena Dunham for being an “abuser” includes transparent envy of her career and privilege, you MAYBE invalidate yr point — Emily Gould (@EmilyGould) November 4, 2014
[…]Did Lena Dunham abuse her sister? That depends on a lot of things, some of which we may not know without getting more information. However, there are a number of things about Dunham’s behavior as she describes it herself that bring up red flags.
Read the rest here.
*Although I personally avoided definitively labeling Lena Dunham’s actions as child sexual abuse, I included this content note out of respect for those who consider it such and find it triggering.