Popular feminist figure Lena Dunham has admitted she lied about the extent of her knowledge of a rape accusation by actor Aurora Perrineau against Murray Miller, who was a writer for Dunham’s show Girls, as well as King of the Hill and American Dad.
Last year Perrineau filed a police report saying that in 2012, when she was aged 17, Miller took her and some friends back to his home, where she woke up to find the writer “having sexual intercourse with me.” Perrineau says at no point did she give consent.
A strange stance to take from someone who had previously tweeted: “Things women don’t lie about: rape.” Unsurprisingly Dunham retracted the statement after she was accused of coming only to the defence of white women with #MeToo stories. While in August it was reported that Miller would not be charged.
However, Dunham has now written an open letter, published in The Hollywood Reporter in which she belatedly apologises to Perrineau. Citing the surge in Tarana Burke’s #MeToo movement, Dunham writes: “We have spoken and we have spoken loudly, and our voices, once muffled under layers of crinoline and repressed rage, have been heard.”
Heard, but not necessarily listened to.
Dunham goes on to mention her own trauma, before explaining “I made a terrible mistake. When someone I knew, someone I had loved as a brother, was accused, I did something inexcusable: I publicly spoke up in his defense. … I didn’t have the “insider information” … I wanted to feel my workplace and my world were safe, untouched by the outside world (a privilege in and of itself, the privilege of ignoring what hasn’t hurt you) and I claimed that safety at cost to someone else…”
It is becoming painfully clear that to be a good ally means being measured and agile in your responses. I’m not calling for blind faith in all women but rather a self-examination into why your initial response might be kneejerk or hostile in its nature. Does righting this injustice feel uncomfortable to you? Perhaps you are working to preserve your privileged position.
Dunham continues: “It’s painful to realize that, while I thought I was self-aware, I had actually internalized the dominant male agenda that asks us to defend it no matter what, protect it no matter what, baby it no matter what. Something in me still feels compelled to do that job: to please, to tidy up, to shopkeep…”
Going on to describe various sexual assaults she has endured Dunham then concludes with an apology to Perrineau. Although it is not clear – bar a sense of loyalty to Miller – why Dunham and Konner did not originally choose to support Perrineau, considering Dunham has based much of her career on feminism and sisterhood.
Perrineau has not yet responded. However, she deserves the last word here. So instead I will post her pinned tweet.
“Because I was embarrassed
Because that’s all I was worth
Because I thought my family would fall apart
Because I didn’t want to believe it
Because I knew people wouldn’t believe me
Because self destruction was easier
Because I was a kid