In one section of her memoir, Not That Kind of Girl, Lena Dunham told a story that was intended to demonstrate how “weird” she was as a kid. Instead, it’s caused some people to accuse her of molesting her sister, Grace Dunham.
Here is the fairly graphic excerpt in question…
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.
In another section, Lena talked about bribing her younger sister with candy if Grace would allow Lena to kiss her on the lips.
“Basically, anything a sexual predator might to do woo a small suburban girl I was trying,” Lena said. “What I really wanted, beyond affection, was to feel that she needed me, that she was helpless without her big sister leading her through the world.”
Even though Lena said her actions weren’t intended to be sexual, a few outlets sensationalized the stories: In an article titled “Lena Dunham Describes Sexually Abusing Her Little Sister,” a Truth Revolt columnist accused Lena of using her sister as a sexual outlet. A National Review writer took a similar stance, saying “there is no non-horrific interpretation of this episode.” More on social media said they found the passages disturbing and disgusting.
Lena, however, said the molestation stories are just “right wing attacks” that use “pieces of the book to create a narrative that isn’t there.” She added she’s upset and disgusted by the accusations she intentionally molested her sister.
“Usually this is stuff I can ignore but don’t demean sufferers, don’t twist my words, back the f**k up bros,” she tweeted on Saturday. “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… Sometimes I get so mad I burn right up. Also I wish my sister wasn’t laughing so hard.”
UPDATE – Lena has issued a statement to Time about the controversy:
I am dismayed over the recent interpretation of events described in my book Not That Kind of Girl.
First and foremost, I want to be very clear that I do not condone any kind of abuse under any circumstances.
Childhood sexual abuse is a life-shattering event for so many, and I have been vocal about the rights of survivors. If the situations described in my book have been painful or triggering for people to read, I am sorry, as that was never my intention. I am also aware that the comic use of the term “sexual predator” was insensitive, and I’m sorry for that as well.
As for my sibling, Grace, she is my best friend, and anything I have written about her has been published with her approval.