Roxane Gay Responds to the Lena Dunham Molestation Accusations, and Her View Is Clear-Eyed and Spot-On
I'm sure you've already heard so much of the fodder this week based off of the allegations that Lena Dunham molested her younger sister Grace. They sparked an online frenzy when conservative site National Review ran a piece called “Pathetic Privilege” by Kevin D. Williamson that lobs sex abuse charges at Dunham based on passages in her book Not That Kind of Girl.
There's been a lot of insanity in the discussions, but on Tuesday night, Bad Feminist author and cultural critic Roxane Gay weighed in on the Dunham accusations in a post on her blog, and it's a thoughtful, clear-eyed take on a situation that has spun out of control.
“Judgment is part of the human experience," writes Gay. Judgement — and controversy — is something with which Dunham is intimately familiar (She’s always naked! Her shorts are too short! She’s privileged!), but allegations of sexually abusing a younger sister are much more serious than a fashion faux pas or a misguided Tweet.
In her book, Dunham compares herself to a sexual predator — an analogy that she recently apologized for in a written statement. “It was clearly written as a joke but not all jokes work or are appropriate,” Gay says, who also admits to doing things during childhood that would be considered sociopathic or just plain crazy in adulthood (like putting her baby brother in a basket and pushing him down some stairs).
I can relate, too; I used to take the heads and limbs off my Barbie dolls and carry them around in plastic bags as a kid — a short-lived habit that my grandfather thought was “not right” but that my mom defended as “creative.” Even though I decapitated my dolls for a brief period, I turned out to be a reasonably sane, non-murderous member of society. I also doubt that Gay is still stuffing her baby brother into a laundry basket.
Gay, who is an acquaintance of Dunham's and who also writes openly and honestly about her life, her past, and her thoughts on everything from race to sexuality to her love of Sweet Valley High , admits that we all do terrible things, but, "There is an undercurrent of rage that seems to have very little to do with [Dunham's] book."
In the blog post, Gay plainly states that she doesn't believe Dunham is "a child molester or abuser or anything she has been accused of. These accusations chill me to the bone because they are so very serious and have such grave consequences."
Both women deal with their share of Internet trolls and toxic haters online, and Gay does think that Dunham can be "privileged and short-sited on some of the big issues we all care about so much." Even so, she ends her blog post with the sentiment, "I wouldn’t wish this on anyone."