Lena Dunham’s imprint upon our lives hits me with inner conflict on a daily basis. Theoretically, she’s a marvel – a brazen example of the ‘realest’ of ‘real’ women who make zero excuses for their interaction with the world. I mean, any woman in our society over a size 10 whose reaction to shooting sex scenes is “I simply pulled my shirt over my head and dove in” either holds an ego impossibly bigger than the pressures of the media, or just genuinely doesn’t give a fuck and should be duly lauded for that. Admittedly, I’ve always felt a sinister chill of arrogance and self-absorption from Dunham, which was only exacerbated when I read her book ‘Not That Kind of Girl’, in which she nonchalantly describes some arguably disconcerting aspects of her childhood and adult life. One of which brings me to the subject of this piece, a passage depicting Dunham at the age of 7, which has almost hilariously caused a social-justice-warrior meltdown:
“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. She didn’t resist and when I saw what was inside I shrieked.
My mother came running. “Mama, Mama! Grace has something in there!”
My mother didn’t bother asking why I had opened Grace’s vagina. This was within the spectrum of things I did. She just got on her knees and looked for herself. It quickly became apparent that Grace had stuffed six or seven pebbles in there. My mother removed them patiently while Grace cackled, thrilled that her prank had been a success.”
From this passage, and a number of others which depict Dunham’s tendency to masturbate in the same bed as her younger sister, or bribe her for kisses with sweets (also, as a child), Lena has now been plastered with the tagline of ‘sexual abuser’. Because I find this so horrendously ridiculous, I’m going to have to compartmentalise this response into bullet-points, or it’s going to turn into a verbose and angry rant.
She was seven.
And thus, a child. For people to accuse her of sexual abuse, they are sexualising the anatomical curiosity of a seven-year-old child, which to me stings more in its implication that society is now so fucked up that even the innocence of children is sexualised. Additionally, she didn’t even proceed to do anything sexual, nor did she denote any feelings of pleasure – sexual or otherwise.
How in the sweet name of fuck is it a showing of white feminist privilege?
I don’t even know where to start with this. I know that Dunham has been something of a sketchy feminist throughout her time in the spotlight thus far, but her unashamed sense of self and projection of that onto the lives of young girls/women is, to me, her greatest gift to the feminist movement. The comments raging that she has had the gaul to be so brash about something that would otherwise be treated with complete taboo – thus apparently using her ‘white feminist privilege’ – pissed me off no end. Women should be able to speak of whatever they like but yet, the second someone says something even slightly unsavoury, she must be quelled and banished from the feminist scene, right?
Whilst I do agree that much of Dunham’s success does ride on the back of her shock factor, which she likes to issue out in buckets, it is said shock factor that is encouraging young women to care less about whether they look like a Victoria’s Secret model, and focus more on their pursuit for happiness in life – one that isn’t defined by a number on a scale or how many guys want to bone you.
She has already claimed to be an unreliable narrator.
Granted, from Lena’s reaction to this ‘scandal’, it’s quite clear that it was a completely true story, much of what she wrote in the book is said to be embellished, and she recalls being known for consistently exaggerating details of stories as a child and thus, being a natural writer.
There are better damn things to address.
One of the main reasons that I purposely avoid being too closely associated with the feminist label has been completely reinforced with this case. I hate the nit-picking bullshit that comes so often with anything in the feminism bracket, and it’s something that needs to change before we lose all credibility completely. Calling a grown women a sexual abuser because she acted upon curiosity as a child is pathetic – and especially pathetic when we’re, in turn, ignoring the women and men who are genuinely being traumatically abused, merely because this woman is in the spotlight and to be frank, half of us are jealous as hell of her.
I’m not Lena Dunham’s biggest fan, but all I can say is: Internet, get a fucking grip.