Lena Dunham has been pretty open about her life, and the writer/actress outlined several highly personal stories in her recent memoir, Not That Kind Of Girl. Included in the book is a chapter on her college days, which details the rape she suffered and the aftermath of the assault, in which she says she felt that her self-worth was tied to it. On Friday, she spoke about the incident at Variety’s Power Of Women New York luncheon, saying her goal is to talk about it openly in order to take away the stigma attached to sexual violence.
“When I was raped, I felt powerless. I felt my value had been determined by someone else. Someone who sent me the message that my body was not my own, and my choices were meaningless. It took years to recognize my personal worth was not tied to my assault. The voices telling me I deserved this were phantoms. They were liars. So as a feminist and a sexual assault survivor, my ultimate goal is to use my experience, my platform and, yes, my privilege, to reverse stigma and give voice to other survivors.”
Dunham was introduced at the event by Girls showrunner Jenni Konner, who says that Lena is heavily informed about sex trafficking, a problem the young writer aims to eradicate. It was for her work with GEMS–Girls Education and Mentoring Services–that Dunham was honored at the event, as the group works with girls and women who have been victimized by domestic trafficking.
“She’s the leading expert on sex-trafficking stats. Seriously, ask her anything,” Konner said.
Dunham found herself in hot water when her book was released after a reporter from Breitbart went to Oberlin College to try and track down the man accused of raping the actress, whom she named as “Barry.” Random House, Lena’s publisher, has said that the name was a pseudonym and offered to pay all legal fees after a man by that name asked for damages, saying his reputation was maligned, but the incident led to claims from critics that Dunham wasn’t being completely honest in her memoir.
Lena Dunham hasn’t made much comment on those claims, or the claims that she has not always presented herself as a feminist through her writing. However, she did say in her speech at the Variety luncheon that she never claimed to be perfect.
“I always tell people — particularly angry internet commentators — that there is no such thing as a perfect feminist, and I am no exception,” Lena Dunham said.
[Photo courtesy YouTube]