Shalom Life | December 25, 2014

Lena Dunham Addresses Rape Controversy in Buzzfeed Article

The 'Girls' creator wrote an essay for Buzzfeed about the "Barry" backlash.

By: Sara Torvik

Published: December 12th, 2014 in Culture » Society » News

Lena Dunham Addresses Rape Controversy in Buzzfeed Article

Lena Dunham tells some very personal stories about her life in her new book Not That Kind of Girl, and one of those stories is a description of a non-consensual sexual encounter with a man named “Barry” who she met during her time as a student at Oberlin College.

In the book, she explains that the man in question sexually assaulted her and that she never reported the incident to university officials or to the police because she was unclear about what happened and whether she was at fault for what occurred. She says that shame had silenced her for a long time but that her book seemed like the perfect venue to speak out about what happened.

In a recent essay for Buzzfeed, Dunham also explained that she received a lot of backlash for this decision: “As indicated in the beginning of the book, I made the choice to keep certain identities private, changing names and some descriptive details. 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.”

This is in reference to a Breitbart story by John Nolte which points out that an "easily identifiable Oberlin conservative from that era named Barry; indeed, that Barry has already been identified as the person from Dunham’s book by many people," reports The Washington Post.

Dunham also writes a message to the media in her essay: “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. These misconceptions about rape are rampant, destructive and precisely the thing that prevents survivors from seeking the support that they need and deserve.”

You can read her full essay in BuzzFeed here.

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