Lena Dunham's Assault on Humanity

Lena Dunham's Assault on Humanity

By Heather Wilhelm - December 11, 2014

Ah, the holidays. ’Tis the season to be merry! Unfortunately, as media critic Howard Kurtz recently pointed out, ’tis also, apparently, “the season for disputed rape claims.”

I’m sorry. It’s depressing, I know. First came Rolling Stone magazine’s explosive University of Virginia gang-rape story, which now, due to a significant dearth of actual facts, appears to have imploded. And this week, in its aftermath, our nation—much like awed and embarrassed patrons witnessing an epic fistfight in the bar area of the local Applebee’s—turns its eyes to Lena Dunham.

Dunham, in case you don’t subscribe to HBO and are impervious to millennial generation hype, is the star of “Girls.” In the process, she’s become a media darling, a “feminist” guru, and the best-selling author of “Not that Kind of Girl,” which may be the most abysmal book I’ve ever read, with the possible exception of Taro Gomi’s “Everyone Poops.” I reviewed Dunham’s book a few months back, noting her general dysfunction, her sad mutation of the “feminist” credo, and her crazed, decidedly un-empowered, and quietly desperate dependence on men.

What I didn’t address—and, to be fair, there was a lot of craziness to run with in this book, and yes, it is still on the New York Times bestseller list—was the chapter where Dunham reaches back into her assorted college memories, tosses them around like a soggy old salad, and casually accuses the Oberlin campus’s “resident conservative,” a guy she calls Barry, of rape.

Since I’ve already gone through the quiet pain of reading Dunham’s published pamphlet of infinite sadness, I can fill you in on a few related facts. In the same chapter as the Barry story, we are informed that: a) Dunham learned the word “rape” at age 7; b) she pronounced it “rabe,” like “the playwright, not the broccoli,” which is meant to remind us that she is terribly worldly and precocious; c) she once accused her 2-year-old sister of “rabing” her; d) her mother somehow found this amusing; e) at age 9, when some poor dude who runs a New York newsstand looks at her “for a moment,” she also accuses him of attempted rape.

This is what we are dealing with, everyone. Be very afraid.

Rape, regardless of what Dunham might think, is a serious charge, and her accusation is catching up with her, thanks to reporting by the National Review’s Kevin Williamson and Breitbart’s John Nolte, who managed to track down an actual person named Barry who was a prominent campus Republican at the time Dunham went to Oberlin. Due to the details in Dunham’s memoir, the young man seemingly labeled as a brutish rapist in an acclaimed national bestseller was fairly easy to find. It took Williamson, in fact, “about two minutes.” Stinks to be Barry, right? Good thing he’s got his male privilege to fall back on!

In October, Barry lawyered up—and on Tuesday, after slaughtering an innocent man’s reputation and letting him “twist in the wind” for months, as Breitbart’s Nolte put it, Lena Dunham issued a 1,259-word public statement, 135 words of which were used to “settle” things with Barry: The name she used for her college Republican rapist, Dunham announced, is a “pseudonym,” and “any resemblance to a person with this name is an unfortunate and surreal coincidence.”

I don’t buy the “coincidence” part—pretty much for the same reason I don’t buy lottery tickets, have never run with the bulls at Pamplona, and didn’t apply to Oberlin—but “surreal” is a pretty good word for the remaining 1,124 words of Dunham’s statement, in which she complains about having her “character and credibility questioned,” shuns the questioners who are attempting to “reopen” her “wounds” and “deepen” her “trauma,” and instructs us that there is “no right way to survive.” Well, not libeling people and potentially ruining their lives would probably be a good start, but whatever.

Feminist defenders of Dunham are having none of that advice. “Asking whether or not a victim is telling the truth is irrelevant,” Sophie Hess, an Oberlin student, femsplained to the reporter from Breitbart. “It’s just not important if they are telling the truth.” Meanwhile, media attempts to clear Barry’s name, writes feminist Amanda Marcotte, are merely “an effort to make the price of speaking out our life experiences so high that other women won’t do it, and the illusion that rape isn’t a thing that happens can be maintained.”

Tell me again, how does disregarding the truth help women? More importantly, how does it help women who are rape victims? You got me, but then again, I’m still mystified that anyone on this planet has spent actual forms of currency to read famed MTV ill-fitting underwear dancer Lena Dunham’s life advice.

What’s clear, however, is that, at least in the feminist world, the falsely accused don’t matter. “In the context of [Dunham’s] essay,” Emily Shire wrote Wednesday at the Daily Beast, berating “right-wing nuts” and their fact-finding efforts, “’Barry’ is secondary.”

Wow. Barry is secondary, in other words, to the must-sell story of widespread female oppression in America, no matter the cost. When you’re willing to bulldoze right over people—real, living, breathing human beings—in order to promote your ideology, you’ve entered extremely dangerous territory. So, it turns out, has the truth. 

Heather Wilhelm is a writer based in Austin,Texas. Her work can be found at and her Twitter handle is @heatherwilhelm.

The U-Va. Rape Case and Feminist Confusion
Heather Wilhelm · December 4, 2014
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Carl M. Cannon · December 7, 2014

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