Lena Dunham Shouldn't Be Surprised About Molestation Accusations

Lena Dunham

At this point, I guess I’m used to Lena Dunham saying provocative things. It’s not surprising when one of her quotes gets turned into a headline, because that’s the sort of person she seems to be: a little out there, deliberately looking for reactions. I don’t always like her or agree with her, but I usually admire her talent and confidence — but I’m pretty conflicted over a section of her memoir in which she describes curiously spreading open her infant sister’s vagina.

Dunham is on a self-described “rage spiral” after a conservative website accused her of molestation, but I’m not sure she should be quite this surprised that some people are reacting to her disclosure in a negative way.

(Warning: potential triggers ahead for sexual abuse survivors.)



In her book, Not That Kind of Girl, Dunham writes about an incident that happened when she was younger. I believe Dunham was seven at the time, and her sister was one. Dunham had asked her mother if her sister’s vagina looked like her own, and her mother had said, “I guess so. Just smaller.” Dunham wondered if her sister had eggs inside her vagina, and decided to take a look for herself:

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 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.

The website Truth Revolt says that additional passages in the book include Dunham describing sexually experimenting with her younger sister Grace, and that she attempted to persuade to kiss her using, in Dunham's joking words, “anything a sexual predator might do.”

Dunham has responded to the criticism with anger, posting the following tweets:



Boy. This is a weird one. I’ll say this, I don’t think Lena Dunham is a child molester. But I will also say that if her sister had reacted badly to being touched in that way, and if her sister had been old enough to tell an adult what happened, child welfare officials certainly might have had concerns about the entire situation. Being a weird seven year old is one thing, invading someone else’s genitalia is another. I’m not saying she abused her sister, but I find it hard to side with her in her outrage over being criticized for telling the story as if it was totally no big deal.

Because … well, it kind of was a big deal? And it’s not normal to sexually experiment with your siblings, although I haven’t read those exact passages so I don’t know how explicit those got.

In this case, I can’t get behind Lena Dunham’s story of being a strong woman who’s brave enough to say and do things other people don’t. This story isn’t brave, it’s uncomfortable. I’m glad her sister can laugh about it (and her mom clearly was never upset), but I don’t think it’s very funny at all.

What do you think about this?

Image via Twitter

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