F**k Off, Lena Dunham
Last month, perpetual hot mess Lena Dunham was profiled in The Cut in a piece that fascinated as much as it infuriated. Written by the brilliant Allison P. Davis, the piece was as visceral as it was aggravating, offering an insight into a woman who cannot help herself. It wasn’t so much about giving Dunham enough rope to hang herself with as it was Dunham bringing her own rope along, bragging about how wonderful the rope was, then asking if her hanging herself with it would help The Cause. It was understandable why so many left the piece with further disdain for her, but I think that was the point. Many felt that Dunham had already taken up enough oxygen in the room and shouldn’t have been given further opportunities to do so by major publications. I disagreed on that front.
But here? This thing right here? F—k this.
In The Cut piece, the subject of Aurora Perrineau is brought up. The actress accused Girls writer and executive producer, Murray Miller, of raping her at a party in 2012 when she was only 17. Dunham and former collaborator Jenni Konner quickly jumped to Miller’s defence, issuing a statement that read, in part, ‘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 percent of assault cases that are misreported every year.’ As you can imagine, this act of throwing a vulnerable black woman under the bus while Dunham clung to her disintegrating feminist cred did not go well. In The Cut piece, Dunham blames the experience on being high from drugs taken for surgery, makes sure to note that ‘Some people reached out and were quietly like, ‘It’s great that you defend him’, then framed it all as a moment of growth for herself. The Cut piece also says that Dunham reached out to apologize to Perrineau, which Perrineau’s mother said ‘went better than expected’. So that’s Dunham’s role in this finished, right?
F—K YOU, DUNHAM!
Because OF COURSE she had to run to The Hollywood Reporter to give a massive navel-gazing essay of pure vanity to ‘apologize’ to Aurora. Just so everyone else knows how truly sorry she is. Indeed, she is more sorry than anyone else has ever been but really, wasn’t this more a moment of growth for her than anything else?
If it wouldn’t get us shut down, I would post the entire piece here to save you a click. But here are the most aggravating parts.
First of all, it takes eight f—king paragraphs for Dunham to actually mention Aurora’s name. The first half of this badly written dreck is Dunham talking about what a great year it’s been for women, how she ‘clapped’ and ‘wrote an op-ed’ when the Weinstein news broke, and how she ‘didn’t know that I was part of an army’. She, of course, mentions her life as a ‘chronic oversharer’ and makes sure her pain and trauma is the true centre of this piece:
So many of us have spent such a long time hiding our trauma. At least I know I had — even as a chronic oversharer, I tended to leave huge swaths of experience out of my story — and I walked around feeling like such a victim. Like so many women (so many people), I disguised my pain with medication and stuff and chronic overwork, with social media and mindless dating and the random day-to-day drama we generate to stay out of our own experience. I never stopped, much less stopped to consider that I might be capable of traumatizing somebody, too (the exact complaint I’ve always had about old white man artists).
Anyone else think this reads as ‘I’m apologizing but here’s the reason I’m not really responsible for what I said’? Eventually, she admits to making ‘a terrible mistake’:
When someone I knew, someone I had loved as a brother, was accused, I did something inexcusable: I publicly spoke up in his defense. There are few acts I could ever regret more in this life. I didn’t have the “insider information” I claimed but rather blind faith in a story that kept slipping and changing and revealed itself to mean nothing at all. I wanted to feel my workplace and my world were safe, untouched by the outside world (a privilege in and of itself, the privilege of ignoring what hasn’t hurt you) and I claimed that safety at cost to someone else, someone very special.
Hands up if you’re surprised Lena Dunham is a liar? Anyone? Bueller? But oh, she invoked the statistic about false rape accusations because of said insider knowledge! Water under the bridge, right? But remember, she was totally high from pain medication when this all happened so she’s not really at fault here.
Angry? It doesn’t get any less insulting from here. Guess who is never mentioned by name? Murray Miller. You know, the man accused of raping a 17-year-old black woman. The man who claimed he was being blackmailed for cash then confessed that never happened? Because why bother actually calling out the dude at fault here? I know a lot of people will ask why we’re angry at Dunham and not Miller. I get that, but this is a woman who has consistently cloaked herself in feminist prestige then used that to f—k over so many women. You bet I’m not going to give her an easy ride for this. Besides, the statement isn’t finished yet:
To Aurora: You have been on my mind and in my heart every day this year. I love you. I will always love you. I will always work to right that wrong. In that way, you have made me a better woman and a better feminist. You shouldn’t have been given that job in addition to your other burdens, but here we are, and here I am asking: How do we move forward? Not just you and I but all of us, living in the gray space between admission and vindication.
In the iconic words of Ira Madison III - Keep it. F—king keep it. And how the hell do you still make this all about you, Lena? Oh, you threw a vulnerable black woman under the bus by issuing statements to the Hollywood trades and giving all that ammunition to every misogynist who thinks every rape accusation is the lie of a gold-digger? But isn’t it nice that it made you a better feminist?! How? Tell me how it did that! No, don’t tell me. I’m sick of you speaking.
BUT WAIT. THERE’S MORE!
It’s painful to realize that, while I thought I was self-aware, I had actually internalized the dominant male agenda that asks us to defend it no matter what, protect it no matter what, baby it no matter what. Something in me still feels compelled to do that job: to please, to tidy up, to shopkeep. My job now is to excavate that part of myself and to create a new cavern inside me where a candle stays lit, always safely lit, and illuminates the wall behind it where these words are written: I see you, Aurora. I hear you, Aurora. I believe you, Aurora.
It’s all internalized patriarchy’s fault. And the painkillers, obvs.
This space is yours to do with as you please, when you please. I will keep holding this space — it will always be here.
Wait, so now she has to wait for you to give her space to talk? Oh how nice of you to loan out the space you own, apparently. Screw you for thinking it’s your job to grant any woman the right to speak. This was where it felt most obvious to me that this ‘apology’ was damage control for The Cut profile. In that piece, Dunham is constantly, with staggering lack of self-awareness, barging into spaces where she is not wanted or needed. When Dunham’s mother, the artist Laurie Simmons, made new work about gender and photographed Dunham’s sibling Cyrus as part of it, ‘Lena didn’t like being left out, despite not being a natural fit for the theme. “I forced you to do me,” Dunham says to her mother. “I pitched really hard. I was like, ‘I don’t want to get left out of this.’”’ And now she’s trying to be the one who stands by Perrineau’s side as her ally-in-chief.
After that, Aurora is basically a non-entity in this ‘apology’. The rest of the piece is about Dunham’s own experiences with abusive men, which in the context of this mea culpa reads more like her trying to one-up Perrineau. There’s more focus on Dunham’s arrival in the entertainment industry, and it adds nothing to what should be a very simple task: Apologize and don’t make this all about you! Eventually, she returns to Aurora as well as her mother Brittany. It sounds like she’s spent some time with them and had real conversations about her mess. Which is good! But why does that have to be broadcast like this?
Why does Dunham’s apology have to be an extremely public act of self-flagellation that’s more interested in making her sound like a smart, interesting person? Dunham herself even says. ‘There are some who will think I am writing this to curry public favor (that’s OK, though, I stopped thinking that was an option for me somewhere around 2014, and that’s some kind of freedom)’ and all that does it highlight how little has changed with her. She’s a woman constantly playing damage control but lacking the self-awareness to understand that such acts should not double as displays of self-exposure. She’s a woman who has made herself famous through being so revealing about the intimate details of her life but has lost the ability to differentiate between when that’s good and when it’s something nobody wants or needs.
I hate this apology. It’s blatant damage control following on from a profile that was supposed to help her but only exposed why she’s beyond that now. She literally cannot help herself.
So F—K YOU, Lena Dunham. Just go away. Anywhere but here. Now.
Header Image Source: Getty Images
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