Lena Dunham came under scrutiny on Monday after conservative site Truth Revolt accused her of abusing her toddler sister, Grace, when she was a child herself. Truth Revolt's claims are based on an excerpt from Dunham's new memoir, Not That Kind Of Girl, in which she details a childhood exploration of her younger sister's vagina. Namely, she's being criticized for the line, "anything a sexual predator might do to woo a small suburban girl I was trying.”
"I am dismayed over the recent interpretation of events described in my book Not That Kind of Girl," writes Dunham. "First and foremost, I want to be very clear that I do not condone any kind of abuse under any circumstances." She further solidifies her stance on the subject: "Childhood sexual abuse is a life-shattering event for so many, and I have been vocal about the rights of survivors."
Dunham apologized in the statement, calling out the line about sexual predators specifically. "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." She concludes the statement with a reminder that "anything I have written about her has been published with her approval." Her use of the word "comic" seems key here — emphasizing that the line was an attempt at humor might help her case with those she offended.
But one reason many didn't give Dunham the benefit of the doubt is because she, like many funny people, has tripped over the comedic/offensive line before. In March, Dunham made a molestation joke on Twitter. She later removed it and apologized for posting it, saying "I should know better." She made a jokey response (also on Twitter) to an incident where comedian Daniel Tosh threatened a woman in a comedy club for protesting his rape jokes.
Though Lena's sister, Grace Dunham, hasn't made any official statements, she tweeted what seems to be a message of solidarity:
As we've said before, we may never know what exactly happened — and the debate will surely fly about whether we have a right to know — but we do know that listening to survivors is always the best place to start.