Lena Dunham Responds to Accusations That She Molested Her Younger Sister Grace Dunham

Not That Kind of Girl author goes on a "rage spiral" over sexual abuse claims

By Zach Johnson Nov 03, 2014 12:45 PMTags
Lena DunhamArthur Mola/Invision/AP

UPDATE: Grace Dunham tweeted the following in response to the furor a few hours later: "heteronormativity deems certain behaviours harmful, and others "normal"; the state and media are always invested in maintaining that As a queer person: i'm committed to people narrating their own experiences, determining for themselves what has and has not been harmful." And, 2day, like every other day, is a good day to think about how we police the sexualities of young women, queer, and trans people."

Kevin D. Williamson, a columnist for the conservative news magazine National Review, and Bradford Thomas, who writes for the politically conservative website Truth Revolt, have both accused Lena Dunham of admitting to sexually abusing her sister, Grace Dunham. The allegations stem from several passages in actress' recently published memoir, Not That Kind of Girl. In one excerpt, she wrote, "'Do we all have uteruses?' I asked my mother when I was seven. 'Yes,' she told me. 'We're born with them, and with all our eggs, but they start out very small. And they aren't ready to make babies until we're older.'"

"I look at my sister, now a slim, tough one-year-old, and at her tiny belly. I imagined her eggs inside her, like the sack of spider eggs in Charlotte's Webb, and her uterus, the size of a thimble. 'Does her vagina look like mine?' 'I guess so,' my mother said. 'Just smaller.' One day, as I sat in our driveway in Long Island playing with blocks and buckets, my curiosity got the best of me," Lena wrote. "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 came running. 'Mama, Mama! Grace has something in there!'"

"My mother didn't bother asking why I had opened Grace's vagina," the 28-year-old creator, producer and star of HBO's Girls continued. "This was within the spectrum of things I did. She just 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."

In another passage, the actress recalled, "As [Grace] grew, I took to bribing her for her time and affection: one dollar in quarters if I could do her makeup like a 'motorcycle chick.' Three pieces of candy if I could kiss her on the lips for five seconds. Whatever she wanted to watch on TV if she would just 'relax on me.' Basically, anything a sexual predator might to do woo a small suburban girl I was trying. Maybe, I thought, she would be more willing to accept kisses if I wore the face mask my grandmother had for when she did her dialysis. (The answer was no.) What I really wanted, beyond affection, was to feel that she needed me, that she was helpless without her big sister leading her through the world."

"I took perverse pleasure in delivering bad news to her—the death of our grandfather, a fire across the street—hoping that her fear would drive her into my arms, would make her trust me," Lena confessed.

Random House

After the abuse allegations were made, Dunham took to Twitter to defend herself.

"The right wing news story that I molested my little sister isn't just LOL—it's really f--king upsetting and disgusting," the Golden Globe winner told her 1.84 million followers Saturday. "And by the way, if you were a little kid and never looked at another little kid's vagina, well, congrats to you. Usually this is stuff I can ignore but don't demean sufferers, don't twist my words, back the f--k up bros. I told a story about being a weird 7 year old. I bet you have some too, old men, that I'd rather not hear. And yes, this is a rage spiral. Sometimes I get so mad I burn right up. Also I wish my sister wasn't laughing so hard."

However, Dunham's defense only furthered the debate about whether she described molestation:

Lena also engaged in a back-and-forth with Twitter user @AllyGarbs:

As Lena addressed the backlash, her friend, Clementine Ford, came to her defense: