Let Lena Dunham Tell Her Story

It may be 'weird,' but she's entitled to her own narrative: bloggers
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 4, 2014 2:23 PM CST
This cover of "Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She's 'Learned', " by Lena Dunham.   (AP Photo/Random House)
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(Newser) – Lena Dunham opened up a Pandora's box of controversy when she recounted touching her sister's vagina as a child, in her telling an event that "was within the spectrum of things that I did." The right exploded with accusations of sexual abuse, Dunham punched back, but "what's happening to Lena Dunham right now is every memoirist’s worst nightmare," writes Emily Gould at Salon. The National Review and their "ilk" think that "the appropriate way to critique a memoir is to critique those lives" but they miss the point of memoir, as described by Dunham herself: "She is telling stories, her stories," writes Gould. "She has to do this, she says, to keep herself sane." And before you decide whether what Dunham describes is abuse, "you should probably read her book" because "forming an opinion before doing so does a disservice not only to Dunham, but to all women who’ve had the courage to describe their lives as they truly are."

Elsewhere from the court of public opinion:

  • Jia Tolentino at Jezebel took flak for a review that one critic said "promoted child molestation as 'welcome.'" While she admits Dunham's accounting is "some weird shit," Tolentino says that the "art of granting people the ability to tell their own sexual narrative is granting them the ability to tell their own sexual narrative."
  • Over at Gawker, Rich Juzwiak asks a psychotherapist whether Dunham is describing abuse. The short answer, he writes, is no. But, of course, this is nuanced. Says the shrink: "Are those things abusive? Yes, but not in the context of a 7-year-old. If you want to get very psychological, in Freud's psychosexual stages, [Dunham's age] is consistent with the latency stage, wherein children of that age are almost de-genenderized and desexualized. That's even more evidence of why there would be no sexual connotation to it."
  • Writing at Salon, Carolyn Edgar sees "a missed teaching opportunity." What's "really wrong with the controversial passages from Dunham’s book: (is) not so much that they reveal Dunham as a child molester, it’s that they reveal her as a woman who is troublingly averse to adult reflection on her life, her upbringing, or the effect that her actions may have had on the people around her."

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