Lena Dunham is at the centre of controversy once again. At the weekend (17 November), the US actress caused outrage when she defended her Girls co-writer, Murray Miller, over sexual assault allegations made against him.
Aurora Perrineau, daughter of The Best Man actor Harold Perrineau, filed an official report with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department accusing Miller of raping her in 2012 when she was 17. Miller had already denied the allegations in his own statement via an attorney when Dunham voluntarily decided to have her own say.
Rather than allow the matter to be handled by the law or even support the sexual assault victim like the feminist she claims to be, Dunham victim-shamed.
In her statement given to The Hollywood Reporter, Dunham, 31, begins by applauding all the women who have come forward to expose their alleged sexual assaulters in Hollywood over the past month. Then in the same breath, Dunham claims to have “insider knowledge of Murray’s situation” that proves his innocence, as though she was actually present when the incident was said to have taken place.
Dunham proceeds to state how she feels “confident” Perrineau’s case is one of the 3% of sexual assault allegations that are “misreported”.
Reacting to Dunham’s statement, journalist Zinzi Clemmons wrote an impassioned Facebook post announcing she would no longer write for Dunham’s Lenny Letter. Clemmons believes Dunham’s statement against Perrineau, who is black, is evidence she does not support women of colour.
Like Clemmons, many women have since accused Dunham of racism for publicly shaming a possible sexual assault victim who happens to be black. While this could certainly be true, I personally feel the Dunham issue is bigger than race. It’s simply a Lena Dunham issue period.
Dunham is one of the most problematic women to hold a certain position of power based on her level of fame.
Shamefully claiming to be a feminist, Dunham has proved herself to be nothing of the sort, seemingly picking and choosing when she supports her fellow women. And clearly, that support is retracted when one of her male friends is accused of sexual assault.
I have never been a fan of Dunham’s hit show Girls – which is surprising as it aired on HBO and I typically love most of their productions from Game Of Thrones to Sex and the City and The Wire. Girls was often referred to as the new-age Sex and the City with a hipster edge. Given that I am a twenty-something female and could probably relate to many of the issues explored on the show, I just couldn’t relate to the tone and therefore have never watched a full episode.
For that reason, I struggled to warm to Dunham on a superficial level. However, my real human dislike of Dunham stems from when I read extracts from her 2014 autobiography Not That Kind Of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s Learned. And from what I read, I was truly disturbed.
Disturbed because Dunham, a well-known and respected actress, screenwriter and director, openly admitted to behaviour which many perceived as sexual abuse towards her sister. Yes, in the book, Dunham explains how she “carefully spread open” her younger sister Grace’s vagina to satisfy her own curiosity with the female anatomy. Grace was around one-years-old at the time.
Despite being a grown adult now, Dunham justified her actions by saying: “My mother didn’t bother asking why I had opened Grace’s vagina. This was within the spectrum of things I did.” In another part of the book, Dunham said: “Basically, anything a sexual predator might to do woo a small suburban girl I was trying.”
Naturally, Dunham’s words invoked a sense of horror and she later apologised for causing offence or possibly triggering painful memories for survivors of sexual abuse.
Arguably, the worst aspect about the whole situation is the fact that Dunham, aged 28 at the time of publishing the book, freely recounted these uncomfortable occasions without realising why her behaviour might be wrong. And perhaps just as bad are the publishers who failed to recognise the inappropriateness.
Once the dust had settled on that scandal, Dunham dug herself into another hole two years later. In 2016, Dunham gave an interview to Amy Schumer for Lenny Letter in which she accused NBA star Odell Beckham Jr of ignoring her at the Met Ball because he didn’t find her attractive.
Dunham had the audacity to claim: “It was so amazing because it was like he looked at me and he determined I was not the shape of a woman by his standards… The vibe was very much like, ‘Do I want to f**k it? Is it wearing a … yep, it’s wearing a tuxedo. I’m going to go back to my cell phone’.”
Really Lena? Are you that insecure to think a man’s only reason for not talking to you is because you aren’t pretty enough in his eyes?! Did Dunham ever stop to consider that maybe her conversation wasn’t stimulating? Or maybe Beckham Jr, who at the time was new to the fame game and much younger than Dunham, is someone who becomes extremely shy in social situations?
Let’s not also ignore the sheer hypocrisy of the fact that Dunham, in this particular situation, was a feminist who was begging to be sexualised. Seriously.
See Dunham, you just made yourself look bitter and quite frankly stupid. Needless to say, she later apologised. Yep, another grovelling apology to add to the growing collection.
Let’s make no bones about the fact that everyone makes mistakes. Everyone says the wrong thing at some point in their lives, it’s just that with celebrities, their mistakes are magnified to the nth degree.
But how many mistakes does one person have to make before we finally accept they are simply an unpleasant individual? Regarding my own feelings towards Lena Dunham, that time came a long while ago and at last, it seems the Internet at large has finally woke to her recklessness.