The fact that women’s stories are skewed and rewritten by the media is nothing new. The way politics of the female body are frames is often damaging, shameful, and counter-productive. When a brave young woman speaks out against rape on her college campus, she’s often told to “prove it” or told that she shouldn’t be that drunk or wear revealing clothing. Or when Mia Farrow repeatedly told the world that her ex-husband Woody Allen was sexually abusive to her daughter Dylan Farrow, she was deemed crazy and attention-seeking. So sadly, it is no surprise that both Lena Dunham and her sister Grace are now being written about in a way that is both demeaning and dismissive in a controversy surrounding alleged sexual abuse. And they both have something to say about it.
Lena Dunham was accused of “molesting” her younger sister Grace when she was just 7-years-old after detailing an incident of common childhood body curiosity in her memoir Not That Kind of Girl. In the excerpt Dunham refers to a memory in which her sister Grace put pebbles inside of her own vagina and Lena discovered them. She writes,
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 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.
The conservative news website Truth Revolt spun their headline to read, "Lena Dunham Describes Sexually Abusing Her Little Sister." Dunham was horrified by the accusation and went to Twitter to not only defend herself, but to call out the gross inflation of “truth.”
Dunham’s sister Grace has also since taken to the Internet to voice her opinion on the matter. She has used the incident to point out how the narratives of someone’s body and identity are theirs to tell.
What is important to note here is not once does Grace Dunham claim she was abused or molested by her older sister Lena. So why then is a woman like Lena Dunham being accused of such an act when the alleged “victim” is not claiming any form of harm? But when a male celebrity is rumored to be violent towards women, he is almost always “innocent until proven guilty.” Or worse even when he’s guilty, he still gets away with it. Just think of all of the women who spoke out against R. Kelly and who were silenced or perhaps even paid off.
Why is it that when a woman says she is in fact a victim of sexual abuse, she is so often shamed or blamed by the media? Simply, it is just another means to control, manipulate, and oppress. It is a sick way denying women their stories and their truth and writing what is convenient for an agenda. It seems that when it comes to women’s sexuality, we are never right in expressing it or knowing the difference between what is safe and what is abuse when it comes to our own bodies.
What Lena Dunham wrote wasn't pornographic or abusive. It was her narrative and it's a shame it's being spun any other way.