Lena Dunham Talks about the Backlash against Her Sexual Assault Claim (Video)

January 7, 2015

Lena Dunham opened up about how she feels about attempts to dispute and discredit her claim in her memoir, ‘Not that Kind of Girl’ of having being raped years ago by a fellow student at Oberlin College. The HBO ‘Girls’ star spoke with candor on the topic during an interview on the Today Show.

It would have been just a routine stop on the talk-show promo circuit to discuss the season 4 of her series on HBO of which she is creator and star. But in the midst of what has become a proverbial media firestorm erupting over her written account of being raped by a fellow student at Oberlin, she took the opportunity to have her say on the mater.

In the interview with Today Show anchor Savannah Guthrie, Lena Dunham said, “‘It’s a very, very painful thing to share an episode that personal and receive criticism, but what I received was only a small percentage of the doubt and victim blaming that most women who are sexually assaulted in this country experience.”

She went on to elaborate, saying, “I am a celebrity with a platform and a lot of incredible support. Most women who come forward with accusations of sexual assault don’t have those benefits, don’t have my legal and emotional and financial supports. And so for me, I really feel that it enhanced my understanding of the cause and hopefully will make me a better advocate and activist in the future.”

Previously, Lena Dunham wrote an essay which Buzzfeed published, in which she shared details of the experience, how it has affected her then and now, and she commented on the larger issue, namely the sometimes highly negative reception an alleged rape or sexual assault victim experiences.

At that time she addressed the subject of memories and recollections, saying, “When I finally decided to share my story, it had ambiguities and gray areas, because that’s what I experienced, because that’s what so many of us have experienced.” That she should need to instruct the public is unfortunate, as there is the underlying assumption that she is less than truthful.

She also shared her own pain, saying, “‘I have had my character and credibility questioned at every turn. I have been attacked online with violent and misogynistic language. Reporters have attempted to uncover the identity of my attacker despite my sincerest attempts to protect this information.”

And that is a story unto itself, as the pseudonym she chose, “Barry,” coincidentally was the same name as a man who attended Oberlin contemporaneously and also was a Republican, as was the man she spoke of in her memoir.

One hopes that this kind of poking into the psyche and credibility of Lena Dunham will not have a chilling effect on other women who may want to come forward with their stories, whether within the confines of the printed page years later or even in the crucial moments, to report a crime, a crime which is notoriously underreported.

Lena Dunham also spoke about what it has been like coping with fame in general, now that her hit series has given her celebrity status when it was not so many years ago that, in her words she was “just a weirdo college girl wearing neon leggings and doing my thing.”

She said, “It definitely took longer than a moment to adjust to the idea that what I said had any kind of impact. I think all of us girls on the show have really tried to find a way to channel our voices into causes and issues and projects that matter to us, so that we can make the attention matter and count, and that’s the most important thing.’

You can see the full interview of Lena Dunham in the video below.

Pictures: PR Photos

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