Are you at all confused about the news articles springing up everywhere, citing Lena Dunham as a proclaimed sexual predator? Yeah, I am too. It seems that my newsfeed is filled with passionate posts either defending or condemning the amusingly quirky creator of HBO’s Girls for one particular essay from her new book, Not That Kind of Girl. The essay in question is a flashback to Dunham at the tender age of seven, when her former self would bribe her one-year-old sister to kiss (“I took to bribing her time and affection … Three pieces of candy if I could kiss her on the lips for three seconds”) and inspect her sister’s downstairs business (“my curiosity got the best of me … I leaned down between her legs and carefully spread open her vagina … she didn’t resist”).
Fans of Dunham have been fervently coming to her defense, claiming that all children experiment with their sexuality, and that Lena’s seemingly abusive actions were due to the incredibly sex-positive teachings of her parents. Dunham herself has spoken up about the accusations, tweeting that she simply “told a story about being a weird seven-year-old”. You know what? Okay, Lena. You’ve got me there. I was an incredibly peculiar kid (surprising, I know), and I did some pretty weird shit, too. I didn’t inappropriately touch my younger sister, sure, but ten-year-old me did totally make out with my eleven-year-old neighbor in the bushes, before learning that I probably shouldn’t be doing that (even though I found him on Facebook a few months ago and, guys, he is at least a 7.5/10 now. Should I add him? Do you think he’d remember me?).
Okay, I digress. What I’m trying to say is that even if I, or anyone else, did do something like that, something either straddling or crossing the line of child sexual abuse, we didn’t write an essay about it in our bestselling book, or profit from it, or refuse to apologize to survivors of child sexual abuse for trivializing their experiences.
Obviously, it’s pretty clear that I’m not a fan of Ms. Dunham – however, that is really not the point I’m trying to get across with this article. What I’m saying is that it is perfectly okay to enjoy problematic things and problematic people! Heck, I’m a verging-on-radical feminist, and I listen to Tyler the Creator when I’m home alone. If you enjoy Girls and find Lena Dunham hilarious, you have the right to do that without being vilified; however, you can’t let celebrity culture stop you from calling out your fave celebs for doing questionable shit, and you shouldn’t attack those who rightfully do so. For example, take Queen Nicki Minaj’s new music video for her song, “Only”. I sat at my laptop in awe as I played the video, staring as blatantly offensive Nazi imagery flashed across my screen to the beat of Nicki’s sweet rhymes. Do I still love Nicki’s music? God, yes. Should this stop me from calling her out on her explicitly insensitive video? Heck, no. Being a celebrity or icon shouldn’t excuse you from criticism, especially when that criticism is coming from those who have suffered what you are trivializing.
Nikki Clydesdale, Online Contributor
Photo: Lena Dunham for Saturday Night Live