Sex & Relationships

UPDATED: What Lena Dunham Told Us About “Barry”

The Not That Kind of Girl author told us last summer that she used a pseudonym in the essay recounting her date rape


(Photo: Autumn DeWilde)

It’s been a tough few weeks for Lena Dunham, whose date rape essay in Not That Kind of Girl has been the subject of intense scrutiny by right-wing websites such as The National Review and Brietbart. And when I say intense, I mean intense. Breitbart dispatched a writer to Oberlin College to investigate and concluded Dunham’s story isn’t true, which may come as news to her.

And now, after being contacted by a former Oberlin student named Barry who those same sites uncovered in their investigation, her publisher has announced that all subsequent reprints of Not That Kind of Girl will come with the disclaimer that “Barry” is not the real name of the man she says raped her in college.

But Dunham did make that fact pretty clear when she spoke to FLARE’s Maureen Halushak last summer. When asked about her use of pseudonyms in her book of essays, Dunham told Halushak that she “didn’t want to name him Lester the Molester” and saw “Barry” as a “lateral move, name-wise.”

I’ll go out on a limb and suggest that what likely rankled these sites the most was her decision to describe the man who allegedly date raped her as the “campus conservative.” It’s that terminology that seems to be fuelling much of the inflammatory hyperbole surrounding this story.

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about: “Even if you take Dunham at her word on that, we now know for a fact that this powerful woman did nothing for more than six weeks after she knew her memoir cast suspicion on an innocent family man as her rapist.”

And this: “Lena Duhman knew. Lena Dunham said nothing. Instead, she let this poor man twist in the wind for more than six weeks until the threat of a lawsuit finally forced her people to do the right thing.”

Hell hath no fury like a Republican with a highly-trafficked website, so it seems.

UPDATE: Last night, Buzzfeed published an excellent essay by Dunham, in which she addresses “Barry,” as well as “the realities and complexities of sexual assault.”