Lena Dunham's narcissism has hurt all rape victims

Yesterday we covered the ongoing soap opera of the immensely unattractive and monumentally untalented Lena Dunham’s bogus rape accusation. Long story short: she accused a college classmate of raping her, she clearly identified the alleged rapist which has caused him a lot of difficulties, now her publisher is paying the man’s legal expenses and altering future editions of the book to emphasize that the name is a pseudonym. Basically, this is the type of careless and narcissistic behavior Dunham has raised to an art form. Now she takes to the friendly pages of  journalistic paragon BuzzFeed to continue to push her “fake but accurate” story.


The best way to start out a lie is with the lie. Here Dunham doesn’t fail us:

To be very clear, “Barry” is a pseudonym, not the name of the man who assaulted me, and any resemblance to a person with this name is an unfortunate and surreal coincidence. I am sorry about all he has experienced.

Speaking out was never about exposing the man who assaulted me. Rather, it was about exposing my shame, letting it dry out in the sun.

The fact is that Dunham identified the rapist as the most prominent Republican at Oberlin. This, alone, reduces the range of possibilities to the low single digits. She further says he had a radio show. Now we are in rarefied air: a prominent Oberlin college Republican with a radio show. Finally, she named him as Barry. How many of those do you think there are? If you answered “probably a lot” then there is a job opening for you in her publisher’s legal department. To anyone else, Dunham’s game is fairly transparent: she set out to use her personal power and fame as a way of vilifying a young man who had different politics than hers. Had the man involved been a college Democrat or even someone who was apolitical it would have no more fit into Dunham’s narrative than would writing about a fraternity rape at a minor university… or a historically black college or university… would have fit into the web of lies woven by Rolling Stone’s Sabrina Rubin Ederly.

Having dismissed a callous attempt by a relatively powerful woman to ruin the life of a very powerless man with a simple “I am sorry,” Dunham, being the seeming sociopath that she is, goes on to paint herself the victim. It is worth noting that in an essay containing just north of 1200 words and 64 sentences, Dunham uses “I” 50 times, “my” appears 27, and “me” finishes in third with nine usages.


Some highlights:

When I finally chose to share my story, I did not do so in a vacuum. I was inspired by all the brave women who are now coming forward with their own experiences, despite the many risks associated with speaking out.

I like women. I married one. I have two beautiful and talented daughters. But the idea that there is any “risk” involved in a woman reporting a sexual assault is simply bulls*** on a biscuit. Papers don’t report the names of accusers. The “rape shield” laws in many states make it difficult for the accused to defend himself or present mitigating circumstances. In the university environment, the accused doesn’t even have the right to confront the accuser or to have legal assistance. If there is any risk involved in today’s sexual climate it attaches firmly to the man. There is a definite element of “me-too-ism” in her story. Whether her story actually happened outside her fevered imagination is another question.

But I hoped beyond hope that the sensitive nature of the event would be honored, and that no one would attempt to reopen these wounds or deepen my trauma.

Like, for instance, that bastard Barry from Oberlin who opened her wounds and deepened her trauma by actually defending himself. Where does that douche get off anyway. The rape could have happened. He might have done it if he had the chance.

But this did not prove to be the case. I have had my character and credibility questioned at every turn.

Dunham’s character came into question quite a while ago, along with her intelligence. If you write a book in which you boast about sexually abusing your younger sister and then get caught fabricating a rape allegation against a man who barely knows you, you should expect to have your character and credibility questioned. In a polite society you’d be horsewhipped through the streets.


I have a certain empathy for the journalists who asked me questions like whether I regret how much I drank that night or what my attacker would say if he was asked about me. These ignorant lines of inquiry serve to further flawed narratives about rape, but these people are reacting to the same set of social signals that we all are — signals telling us that preventing assault is a woman’s job, that rape is only rape when a stranger drags you into a dark alley with a knife at your throat, that our stories are never true, and that lying about rape is a way for women to enact revenge on innocent men.


Actually, those lines of inquiry are valid. If you drink yourself into a stupor and get behind the wheel, asking you if you regret how much you drank is not out of bounds. Those questions simply draw the bounds of the act. In murder, we differentiate between premeditated murder and accidental death. This includes several gradations. Rape is not rape, there are degrees. It doesn’t take a genius to see that there is a world of difference between Dunham’s alleged experiences (by the way, do all of her sexual encounters require the man to use industrial quantities of drugs and alcohol? Because that is the way her sex life is described in her memoir.) and a woman who is raped by a stranger. According to Dunham’s own story here she was never concerned about her safety, she was concerned about STDs and that “other potential partners would consider me damaged goods” (ummm, yeah?).  And no, not all women lie about rape but that is cold comfort to Barry and to men of Phi Kappa Psi at University of Virginia.


Since coming out as a survivor I have gone from an intellectual sense of the ways in which victims are doubted and debased to a bone-deep understanding of this reality. I hope to apply that understanding to art and advocacy. I am deeply grateful for the support I have received. I am deeply grateful that this dialogue is taking place. I am angry but I am not alone.

Survivors have the right to tell their stories, to take back control after the ultimate loss of control. There is no right way to survive rape and there is no right way to be a victim. What survivors need more than anything is to be supported, whether they choose to pursue a criminal investigation or to rebuild their world on their own terms. You can help by never defining a survivor by what has been taken from her. You can help by saying I believe you.

Dunham’s understanding is self-inflicted. If we said “I believe you” to Dunham we’d have to be cretins. She set out, for reasons known only to Dunham at this point, to paint a particular classmate, one with different politics, as a rapist. The writer at Rolling Stone took advantage of a what seems to be an emotionally troubled young woman to level a horrendous allegation against a class of men that she loathes. In doing so their lies, evasions, and amoral narcissism has done immense damage to the cause they would have you believe they support.

For fun, read her story using a Psychology Today article called Top Ten Secrets of Effective Liars as a guide.


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