Lena Dunham has said many things that have upset and offended people throughout her career thus far. Each time she has done so I have either thought people have been mis-interpreting what she meant, overreacting entirely, or I have just put it down to the fact that she was young and like all of us does not have all the answers.
However she has finally done something that I can not justify. Nor will I even attempt too.
As one of the current feminist voices of our times or at least as “a voice of a generation” as she said in her show Girls, she has a far-reaching and very powerful cry. Which normally she uses for good.
I admire Lena, I think she is a prodigious writer, and it has been so refreshing to have someone so brave and unapologetic using her talents to defend those without a platform to do so themselves.
So it was incredibly disappointing when after a brave young woman came forward telling the police that she had been raped at 17 by one of the Girls writers – Lena jumped onto her social media dais and announced that this woman is part of the 3% of women who lie about rape as there is no way that her friend would do such a thing.
You cannot say that women need to be listened to and believed when they come forward about rape and then on the other hand shame a woman who did just that.
What Lena has done is really fucking cruel. She has used her incredible social media reach and labelled this girl a liar before knowing any of the details.
I know that there are many that would say the reverse is true of the accused also, that until he is tried and found guilty fingers cannot be pointed, but I made the decision a while a go that if a woman says she was raped then I believe her. Period.
83% of rape cases do not end with a conviction. It is apparently too hard to prove in most cases. But with a culture that inherently refuses to believe women and will go so far as to victim blame and shame them if they come forward, I wonder just how true this is.
Lena is a very privileged, wealthy, white woman from a successful artistic family. She has obviously had her trials and tribulations, but for the most part her perspective is skewed and she cannot speak for all of us no matter how hard she tries. Perhaps I have put too much weight in the power of her words. And perhaps it is time for her to sit down and let other women speak now. If she is going to shame a woman while defending a potential rapist she no longer is a voice I want to speak for me.
I understand it must be hard to hear that your friend could possibly have committed such a horrific crime. But the truth is that most men that rape aren’t the scary, sinister monsters they are imagined to be. Usually they are just regular looking dudes who I am sure in other ways can be perfectly nice human beings.
A perfect example of this has been Louis C.K.
When I first read that Louis had been accused of sexual assault I couldn’t believe it. How could such a sweet, seemingly enlightened, talented guy be capable of such gross acts?
But he is guilty. Even he says so.
Comedian Sarah Silverman’s comments around Louis’ actions were particularly honest and admirable. She spoke about how she has found it really difficult to find out her best friend (Louis C.K) had done these things and that we need to look after the survivors of these crimes and help them in what ever ways we can. Lena would have done well to take a page out of Sarah’s book.
In saying all this, the last thing I want to be doing is blaming women for rapist’s actions. Yes I believe Lena was wrong, very wrong, but the bigger issue is that a woman has accused a man of rape and it is this rapist and only the rapist that the fingers of blame should be pointed.
What is happening in Hollywood feels like a watershed moment. For the first time in probably ever, women are coming forward to share their assault stories and people are listening. The swamp is being drained and hopefully what is happening in this industry will begin filtering through to all areas of our society. But in the meantime I think the best thing we can do is listen.