Ed Driscoll

A Mystery That Dogs Us All

The profile of Lena Dunham, the Time-Warner-CNN-HBO-employed star of the latter network’s Girls series and her new autobiography was moved out from the National Review subscriber paywall this week; it had been the cover story of the previous dead tree issue. If you’ve got a strong enough stomach, here’s a sample of what Kevin Williamson wrote:

Still, to dismiss Lena Dunham as an insulated and spoiled child of Manhattan’s ruling class is to misunderstand her story entirely. If there is such a thing as actually abusing a child through excessive generosity and overindulgence, then Lena Dunham’s parents are child abusers. Her father, Carroll Dunham, is a painter noted for his primitive brand of highbrow pornography, his canvases anchored by puffy neon-pink labia; her photographer mother filled the family home with nude pictures of herself, “legs spread defiantly.” Self-styled radicals from old money, they were not the sort of people inclined to enforce even the most lax of boundaries. And they were, in their daughter’s telling, enablers of some very disturbing behavior that would be considered child abuse in many jurisdictions — Lena Dunham’s sexual abuse, specifically, of her younger sister, Grace, the sort of thing that gets children taken away from non-millionaire families without Andover pedigrees and Manhattanite social connections. Dunham writes of casually masturbating while in bed next to her younger sister, of bribing her with “three pieces of candy if I could kiss her on the lips for five seconds . . . anything a sexual predator might do to woo a small suburban girl I was trying.” At one point, when her sister is a toddler, Lena Dunham pries open her vagina — “my curiosity got the best of me,” she offers, as though that were an explanation. “This was within the spectrum of things I did.”

Dunham describes herself as an “unreliable narrator,” which in the context of a memoir or another work of purported nonfiction means “liar,” strictly construed. Dunham writes of incorporating stories from other people’s lives and telling them as though they were her own, and of fabricating details. The episode with her sister’s vaginal pebbles seems to be especially suspicious. When Dunham inspects her sister’s business, she shrieks at what she sees: “Grace had stuffed six or seven pebbles in there. . . . Grace cackled, thrilled that her prank had been such a success.” Dunham’s writing often is unclear (willfully so, it seems), but the context here — Grace has overheard her older sister asking whether her baby sister has a uterus — and Grace’s satisfaction with her prank suggest that Grace was expecting her older sister to go poking around in her genitals and inserted the pebbles in expectation of it. Grace is around one year old at the time of these events. There is no non-horrific interpretation of this episode. As for stroking her mother’s vagina, having mistaken it for her hairless cat . . .

That Dunham’s parents tolerated this is completely in character with the portrait of them she offers. Experiencing some very common problems with the childhood fear of going to bed alone, young Lena invades her parents’ bedroom every morning at 1 a.m., evicting her father from the bed, “probably my way of making sure my parents didn’t ever have sex again.” Her father eventually reaches a strange and broken-down compromise with her: She goes to bed at 9 p.m., and he wakes every morning at 3 a.m. to carry her into his bedroom. These shenanigans went on for twelve years. Getting up in the middle of the night for a newborn is one thing; getting up in the middle of the night, every night, for an adolescent is a different class of thing.

And at Truth Revolt today, Bradford Thomas writes, “Lena Dunham Describes Sexually Abusing Her Little Sister:”

In the collection of nonfiction personal accounts, Dunham describes using her little sister at times essentially as a sexual outlet, bribing her to kiss her for prolonged periods and even masturbating while she is in the bed beside her. But perhaps the most disturbing is an account she proudly gives of an episode that occurred when she was seven and her sister was one. Here’s the full passage (p. 158-9):

“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. 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. 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.

Lena, you severely warped bastard, National Review and Truth Revolt read your book! But apparently, nobody else did; Twitchy is asking, “How did reviewers who lauded Lena Dunham’s rape survivor chapter ‘miss’ molestation story?” Though as one person tweeted today, “and yet every book review had the CliffsNotes version about the college republican rapist,” a story that John Nolte of Big Hollywood has focused on in numerous recent posts on the topic.

Naturally, Dunham is framing the revelations from her book as a partisan issue; “The right wing news story that I molested my little sister isn’t just LOL- it’s really f*cking upsetting and disgusting,” she tweeted today, and of course, the MSM is happy to play along — because writers at National Review and Truth Revolt accurately quoted from her book. But then as the late Sen. Pat Moynihan once told an interviewer, “Hannah Arendt had it right. She said one of the great advantages of the totalitarian elites of the twenties and thirties was to turn any statement of fact into a question of motive.” Presumably, Dunham’s “rage spiral” today against “the right-wing news story” will be more than sufficient to keep her employed by Time-Warner-CNN-HBO.

But to respond to Twitchy’s query, how did reviewers “miss” those disgusting chapters? Perhaps the same way they missed this passage in Obama’s autobiography:

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As the palace guard to both Hollywood and DC, the MSM protects its own, both by tamping down negative stories that could stop the careers of the anointed in their tracks, and by circling the wagons once these stories actually do enter circulation. It’s almost as if they gave up journalism for being partisan operatives or something.

Update: