Lena Dunham apologises for defending Girls writer accused of sexual assault, shaming victim

Dunham's defense of Miller provoked a backlash on social media and a writer for Lenny Letter (Dunham's feminist newsletter) quitting the publication citing issues of 'hipster racism.'

FP Staff November 23, 2017 19:59:33 IST
Lena Dunham apologises for defending Girls writer accused of sexual assault, shaming victim

Lena Dunham apologised last week for her blatant hypocrisy after defending Murray Miller, the Girls writer accused of sexual assault by actor Aurora Perrineau.

Lena Dunham apologises for defending Girls writer accused of sexual assault shaming victim

File image of Lena Dunham. Reuters

News of the accusations broke on 17 November when The Wrap reported that Perrineau had filed sexual assault charges against Miller, claiming he had raped her in 2012 when she was just 17 years old. Dunham and her Girls co-showrunner Jenni Konner issued a statement to the Hollywood Reporter supporting Miller in response.

"While our first instinct is to listen to every woman's story, our insider knowledge of Murray's situation makes us confident that sadly this accusation is one of the 3 per cent of assault cases that are misreported every year," they had said in a statement. However, her defense of Miller provoked a backlash on social media, with many pointing to an August tweet of Dunham's, where she wrote: "Things women do lie about: what they ate for lunch. Things women don't lie about: rape."

A contributor for Dunham's online feminist weekly newsletter Lenny Letter, Zinzi Clemmons announced she was quitting the publication, citing the racist attitude of the Girls creator and her circle of friends. "It is time for women of colour — black women in particular — to divest from Lena Dunham," Clemmons said on Twitter before adding "I'd call their strain 'hipster racism,' which typically uses sarcasm as a cover."

“She cannot have our words if she cannot respect us,” she further wrote.

When reports emerged about the sexual harassment allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, Dunham had written an op-ed column for the New York Times in which she alleged a director had sexually harassed her last year. She wrote: "Mr Weinstein may be the most powerful man in Hollywood to be revealed as a predator, but he’s certainly not the only one who has been allowed to run wild. His behaviour, silently co-signed for decades by employees and collaborators, is a microcosm of what has been happening in Hollywood since always and of what workplace harassment looks like for women everywhere."

So it definitely seemed awfully hypocritical of Dunham to support Miller. A day later though, she posted a lengthy statement on Twitter to apologise for her initial defense of Murray.

"Every woman who comes forward deserves to be heard, fully and completely, and our relationship with the accused should not be part of the calculation anyone makes when examining her case.

"Every person and every feminist should be required to hear her. Under patriarchy, 'I believe you' is essential. Until we are all believed, none of us will be believed. We apologise to any women who have been disappointed," she wrote.

Dunham said she never thought that she would ever issue a statement publically supporting someone accused of sexual assault, but she "naively believed it was important to share my perspective on my friend's situation as it has transpired behind the scenes over the last few months. I now understand that it was absolutely the wrong time to come forward with such a statement and I am so sorry.

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