Lena Dunham, creator and star of the inexplicably critically acclaimed HBO series “Girls,” has written a memoir, “Not That Kind of Girl.” Here are ten inquiries regarding its most controversial passages, like the one above, and the reaction to them:
1. What does one say about a Hollywood figure who puts a passage like this in her memoirs, writing about her relationship with her sister, who was six years younger…
“As she grew, I took to bribing her for her time and affection: one dollar in quarters if I could do her makeup like a “motorcycle chick.” Three pieces of candy if I could kiss her on the lips for five seconds. Whatever she wanted to watch on TV if she would just “relax on me.” Basically, anything a sexual predator might do to woo a small suburban girl I was trying.”
2. Or this…
“I shared a bed with my sister, Grace, until I was seventeen years old. She was afraid to sleep alone and would begin asking me around 5:00 P.M. every day whether she could sleep with me. I put on a big show of saying no, taking pleasure in watching her beg and sulk, but eventually I always relented. Her sticky, muscly little body thrashed beside me every night as I read Anne Sexton, watched reruns of SNL, sometimes even as I slipped my hand into my underwear to figure some stuff out.”
3. Or, most famously, this...
“Do we all have uteruses?” I asked my mother when I was seven.
“Yes,” she told me. “We’re born with them, and with all our eggs, but they start out very small. And they aren’t ready to make babies until we’re older.” I look at my sister, now a slim, tough one-year-old, and at her tiny belly. I imagined her eggs inside her, like the sack of spider eggs in Charlotte’s Web, and her uterus, the size of a thimble.
“Does her vagina look like mine?”
“I guess so,” my mother said. “Just smaller.”
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 got 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.
I say that that the Hollywood darling apparently used her little sister as a sex toy for at least a decade, was never stopped or admonished for doing so by remarkably negligent parents, and has grown to adulthood without recognizing that there is anything wrong with her conduct.
The first passage not only treads on the borders of incest, but also leaves the uncomfortable question of what else she did to her sister that emulated a sexual predator. The second is profoundly creepy, and the third describes what, if true, is abuse of an infant in terms designed to sound erotic. As blogger Ann Althouse points out, does anyone believe that an infant would stuff pebbles in herself “as a prank,”or that a compos mentis parent wouldn’t immediately assume that the older girl had done it to the younger girl? At best, Dunham is lying, and doesn’r realize that her lie puts her and her family in a terrible light.
4. What can we conclude about the character of a celebrity who proposes such conduct as harmless fun, apparently unaware that it violates standards of fairness, respect and caring, to be emulated and embraced by her readers and anyone whom they have influence over, including their own children, as a legitimate cultural norm? I conclude that her values are seriously and perhaps clinically warped. and that the more critics point this out, the safer everyone is, present and future. Lena Dunham is an ethics corrupter.
5. What can we discern about Dunham’s character that she wrote and published these details of embarrassing incidents involving her younger sister without having obtained the consent or permission of her sister? I discern that Dunham is a self-centered user of people, including relatives and loved ones, who does not consider the consequences of her action on others, and has no respect for the privacy, sensitivity, dignity or well-being of anyone else. She does not believe in the Golden Rule, and violates the core of Kant’s categorical imperative: Don’t use others for personal ends.
6. What should we glean from Dunham’s angry defense—via multiple Twitter rants-— of her book, which amounts to “everybody does it,” since this is a) a rationalization and b) ridiculous, as everybody most certainly doesn’t treat their younger siblings this way? I glean that this is a Hollywood bubble resident so immersed in a narcissistic and corrupt culture that she can’t comprehend what normal, ethical people properly regard as wrong.
7. What can we assume from the fact that Dunham is threatening to sue the websites that quoted her book directly and characterized what she describes in it as sexual abuse? As Ken at Popehat deliciously explains, we can assume that she is an idiot, a would-be bully, a censorious one, and an imminent victim of the Streisand Effect.
8. What can we extract from the fact that ABC talk show host Jimmy Kimmel has taken to Twitter to defend Dunham? Since Kimmel gets his jollies and attracts his tasteless fans by encouraging child abuse for laughs, I extract nothing new. Jimmy Kimmel enjoys child abuse, so it stands to reason that he would see nothing wrong with the way Dunham treated her little sister.9. What can we derive from the weird post-modern, relativistic, leftist-gibberish defense of her molesting big sister posted by Dunham’s now-grown involuntary sex-assesory Grace, which reads…”heteronormativity deems certain behaviours harmful, and others “normal”; the state and media are always invested in maintaining that…As a queer person: i’m committed to people narrating their own experiences, determining for themselves what has and has not been harmful” ?
I derive that misused younger siblings of budding narcissists, power-abusers and sociopaths like Lena Dunham, in families where parents laugh off their older daughter stuffing their infant daughter’s vulva dull of pebbles, might be scarred by the experince, and may grow up having no understanding of the need for clarifying cultural standards of right and wrong.10. What is the take-away from the reaction of much of the mainstream media rushing to defend a cult darling by attributing the criticism of her revelations to conservative bias?This is the take-away, nicely articulated by Mediaite’s Joe Concha:
“Go visit a parallel universe where 24-year-old Bristol Palin — who is of Dunham’s generation — writes about touching her younger sister’s vagina, or pleasuring herself in front of her, or using bribery to kiss her…. the Alaska National Guard would have to be called in for the next six months just to protect the family from a positively-giddy media alone”
In summary, what is a fair but somehow understated description of Lena Dunham in light of all the above?
“Fellow white feminists, we cannot do this shit anymore. It should never have been happening. We have to hold white feminists within the movement accountable for the things we say and do. We cannot continue to overlook truly horrific or damaging things that some of us do at the expense of other women because we really like somebody’s book or movie or tv show or whatever it is that we want to hold onto so so tightly that we would cast other women, their pain, suffering, and abuse aside, demean it and diminish it by placing our escapism above it. . . . Lena Dunham has handled this messed up shit by trying to classify this as a ‘right wing news story’ rather than just ‘news story’, which is what it is. She has tried to say that direct quotes of passages from her book are misconstrued words, which they are not. She has taken to twitter and effectively adopted the language of abusers in saying ‘my victim isn’t mad, why should you be?’. Call this what it is as it is: Lena Dunham wrote a memoir. In the memoir she detailed grooming her sister for increasing sexual abuse. She compared herself to a predator. Truth Revolt documented that Lena Dunham had written this and she is now threatening to sue them and trying to paint the telling as a ‘right wing news story’.”