Lena Dunham (born May 13 1986) is an actress, screenwriter, producer, and director. She’s also the first celebrity to have ever been born into a comfortable economic situation, and the only known writer in existence to have mined her family history for material. As such a rare, unheard of creature, she is naturally the subject of much intense scrutiny in the media. On top of that, she’s also in possession, and has been for her entire life, of female body parts.
It’s through this outlandish, almost fantastical set of circumstances, that her life must constantly be dissected and poked at by critics. In their defense, we’ve certainly never seen anyone like her before, a creature capable of combining both existing as a woman with also doing things as a woman, many of which are good, but, and this is the mind-boggling part, some of which are less than good.
You can forgive observers, like those at the The National Review, the conservative magazine founded by William F. Buckley, Jr., a political cartoon skeleton in a top hat, for being nonplussed by Dunham’s life of relative comfort. You might also further forgive author Kevin D. Williamson, a man who once tweeted that women who get abortions should be hanged, and compared a nine-year-old African American boy to an aggressive primate, for taking a hard line against Dunham’s propensity for saying things that cross the line. Clearly we’re dealing with a man with delicate sensibilities here.
No wonder then that Williamson broke the big scoop in TNR over the weekend about a story that Dunham had tried to suppress by hiding it in the form of a story she wrote herself in her widely read book Not That Kind of Girl. If not for Williamson’s dogged sleuthing, the story may have gone unread and unremarked upon, as it largely has in the time it’s been out, written about by merely every publication in existence, and pored over by thousands and thousands of readers.
The story in question revolved around Dunham’s retelling of certain behaviors she engaged with with her younger sister Grace while they were both young.
“Lena Dunham’s sexual abuse, specifically, of her younger sister, Grace, the sort of thing that gets children taken away from non-millionaire families without Andover pedigrees and Manhattanite social connections,” Williamson wrote.
Andover did it.
Dunham writes of casually masturbating while in bed next to her younger sister, of bribing her with “three pieces of candy if I could kiss her on the lips for five seconds … anything a sexual predator might do to woo a small suburban girl I was trying.” At one point, when her sister is a toddler, Lena Dunham pries open her vagina — “my curiosity got the best of me,” she offers, as though that were an explanation.
Truth Revolt, the blog run by Ben Shapiro, a disgraced right wing reporter, further stirred the pot, with a follow up blog called “Lena Dunham Describes Sexually Abusing Her Little Sister.”
Here’s the passage in question:
Here’s the Lena Dunham “sexual predator” joke, in case yall thought it was made up. pic.twitter.com/XmMUQD1OuK
— Dianna E Anderson (@diannaeanderson) November 1, 2014
Dunham responded over Twitter, writing, among others in a series of tweets, “And by the way, if you were a little kid and never looked at another little kid’s vagina, well, congrats to you.”
“I told a story about being a weird 7 year old. I bet you have some too, old men, that I’d rather not hear. And yes, this is a rage spiral.”
It wasn’t just abuse from the right that Dunham was taking. Many feminists took to Twitter to compare her to the worst sort of sexual criminals as well, because there’s no issue that the hard-line left can’t devour itself over through outrage oneupmanship.
Shocking stuff, but these people, each and every last one of them on the right and the left, are liars. Anyone who suggests a 7 year old looking at the vagina of her 1-year-old sister is a sexual predator is lying. Anyone who compares siblings growing up and experimenting, sure, a bit weirdly, with one another in terms of kissing, or looking at one another’s bodies, to actual sexual predators is lying to you, or trying to sell you something. Anyone who is ripping apart Dunham for writing about her family in her work has got a pretty damn long list of other authors and filmmakers they better contend with before they get around to her. Start with the first one ever, and work on from there up through every single other one who has ever existed.
Lena Dunham, you see, is powerful and famous, and therefore perpetually torn apart by anyone looking for the slightest angle. People hate her so much that they hate her retroactively as a 7-year-old child. They’ve always hated her. They always will.
Critics don’t revile Dunham because she touched her sister’s vagina twenty years ago, they hate her because she has one of her own.