She’s ostensibly built a business on sharing women’s stories—including her Emmy Award-nominated series, Girls, her Lenny Letter media empire (which touts itself as “feminism, style, health, politics, friendship and everything else”) and her all-female film production company, A Casual Romance—but Lena Dunham herself is an increasingly problematic woman to get behind.
Dunham has been a lightning rod for criticism, some of it ***highly*** warranted and some of it not, since Girls debuted on HBO in 2012. But her latest f-ck up—proof positive of her inconsistent-slash-ignorant feminism—is impossible to forgive.
In the same week that Lenny Letter published a heartbreakingly raw essay by Joy Bryant, in which the Parenthood actress discloses the sexual violence and trauma both she and her mother experienced in their lives, Dunham and her production partner Jenni Konner issued a statement to the Hollywood Reporter in defence of a Girls writer who has been accused of rape.
It read, in part:
“It’s a hugely important time of change and, like every feminist in Hollywood and beyond, we celebrate. But during every time of change there are also incidences of the culture, in its enthusiasm and zeal, taking down the wrong targets. We believe, having worked closely with him for more than half a decade, that this is the case with Murray Miller. 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.”
Cue the (rightful) outrage, heightened by the fact that Miller is white, and his accuser, actress Aurora Perrineau, is Black. As well, at the time Perrineau says the assault took place, she was 17 to Miller’s 35.
Lena Dunham doesn’t believe her white male friend raped her black female costar? Color me shocked. Almost like white feminism is really only about uplifting and supporting white women as they pursue their ultimate capitalistic goals of sharing the role with men as oppressors.
— Merry Katmas (@kat_blaque) November 18, 2017
Lena Dunham, Jenni Konner. Good old-fashioned elitist slut shaming. Way to go.
— rose mcgowan (@rosemcgowan) November 19, 2017
At a moment in culture when hundreds of brave survivors finally feel strong enough to come forward to share their experiences with sexual harassment and assault—and when it finally seems as though these declarations might effect real change—Dunham and Konner’s immediate and very public dismissal of Perineau’s experience is especially abhorrent.
Two days after issuing the statement in support of Miller, Dunham appeared to have a change of heart, tweeting an apology that notes, in part, that “believing women is the first choice that [she and Konner] make every single day.”
— Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) November 19, 2017
Dunham ends her apology by saying that she’s sorry to “any woman who has been disappointed” (in other words: all of womankind). And while I firmly believe that all humans are capable of making insanely poor decisions and royally effed-up and damaging declarations, the fact that someone who has so much power—and who has made feminism (at least, her version of it) such a core part of her personal and professional brands—has done so yet again is, IMHO, impossible to forgive.
On that note, I leave you with the work of Isobel O’Hare, who has made erasure poetry out of meaningless apologies from serial offenders like Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey, and has now moved on to Dunham’s:
— Isobel O’Hare (@isobelohare) November 19, 2017
Rose McGowan Isn’t Buying Ben Affleck’s Weinstein Statement and Neither Are We
Why Aren’t We Talking About the Sexual Harassment Allegations Against Mariah Carey?
“I’m Glad We’re Here for Uma Thurman, But What About All the Other Angry Women?”