Queen of controversy, Lena Dunham, gave an emotional speech at Variety’s Power of Women gala on Friday on the subject of sex-trafficking. She likened the feeling of powerlessness felt by young women and girls thrust into the sex-trafficking industry to her own rape that happened when she was in college. “I felt powerless,” she said to the room that included powerful women such as Glenn Close, Kim Kardashian, and Whoopi Goldberg.
“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.”
“Powerless” is the perfect descriptor to use for someone who’s been the victim of sexual assault. There’s no doubt that when Lena Dunham experienced that horrendous act, she felt powerless. The word “powerless” coming out of Lena’s mouth, however, is also dripping with irony, as one has to wonder if Dunham’s younger sister Grace perhaps also felt powerless as a young child, when she was the victim to Lena’s self-described “sexual predator,” a word she herself uses to describe her actions towards Grace, six years her junior, in her book Not That Kind Of Girl.
“As she 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 do to woo a small suburban girl I was trying.”
When Dunham would, as a child, explore her younger sister’s genitals, did Grace feel powerless then? Or when she would bribe her with candy for a kiss on the mouth? Or perhaps when Dunham, at 17-years-old, would masturbate while her 10-year-old sister lay sleeping beside her in the same bed, one could come to the conclusion that Grace felt powerless then, as well.
“I felt powerless,” coming out of Lena Dunham’s mouth is absolutely heartbreaking, as no one should ever be made to feel as if their choices don’t matter, and their body is there solely to be used by the whims of another, but the irony still stands that in her mind, a man doing that to her, or to any women is sexual assault, but a sister forcefully bribing a younger sister for affection, and touching her genitals without permission is “exploration.”
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