The #MeToo era has no time for Lena Dunham
“Lena was not anywhere present in our group during the countless hours of work for the last two months,” Thompson commented, before lashing out at the star on Twitter for supporting “Girls” writer and producer Murray Miller in November after he was accused of rape by actress Aurora Perrineau.
“The truth remains: Many women, particularly women of color, don’t feel safe and seen. To those women, like Aurora Perrineau — I see you. I am with you. This must be clear,” Thompson tweeted.
Adding fuel to the fire, Tarana Burke — the creator of the #MeToo hashtag and Michelle Williams’ guest at last Sunday’s Golden Globes — weighed in, tweeting #IstandwithTessa.
And Dunham stands alone.
Not so long ago, Dunham was the untouchable “voice of a generation”: media darling and millennial feminist whose every provocation was fawned over. Now she’s an outcast amid one of the most notable female empowerment movements of our time. Dunham has gone from quirkily cute to carelessly offensive thanks to a parade of blunders. While she used to be lauded for being cavalier, there’s no room for sloppiness in the #MeToo age.
Taking a moment to think before she speaks might be foreign to 31-year-old Dunham, who has built her brand on being unfiltered. She fed off the conservative hive’s distaste for the raw nudity and loose morals of “Girls,” and led her life as an open diary — even launching the online newsletter Lenny, in which she gave voice to young feminists and, of course, herself. It worked. She had a hit show and sold her memoir, 2014’s “Not That Kind of Girl,” for a reported $3.5 million.
But then she got carried away.
In a September 2016 interview in Lenny Letter, Dunham said Odell Beckham Jr. — whom she admitted never said two words to her — dissed her at that year’s Met Gala: “He determined I was not the shape of a woman by his standards. He was like, ‘That’s a marshmallow. That’s a child. That’s a dog.’ ”
The internet quickly called her out for being self-absorbed and for sexualizing black men. Dunham, in turn, penned a lengthy apology on her Instagram page, blaming her insecurities for her “totally narcissistic assumptions about what he was thinking.”
In her book, Dunham fell on her sword when she detailed her alleged on-campus rape by a fellow Oberlin student, a mustached Republican she named “Barry,” a pseudonym. Problem is, there really was a Republican Barry — who never met Dunham and was enrolled at the college at the same time she was.
Only after the innocent Barry threatened to sue Dunham did she clear up the confusion, writing on BuzzFeed that “any resemblance to a person with this name is an unfortunate and surreal coincidence.”
Dunham didn’t learn to be more careful, however. During a recent podcast discussion on Planned Parenthood, she shockingly proclaimed that “I still haven’t had an abortion, but I wish I had.”
People were incensed. In response, Dunham posted a self-promotional apology: “My words were spoken from a sort of ‘delusional girl’ persona I often inhabit, a girl who careens between wisdom and ignorance (that’s what my TV show is too) and it didn’t translate.”
The Harvey Weinstein moment signified a cultural shift, where behaving with insouciance regarding issues such as sexual assault would no longer be tolerated. Dunham apparently didn’t get the memo.
In October, she penned an editorial in the New York Times, calling upon Hollywood men to take a stand against Weinstein. When George Clooney did just that, Dunham praised the actor in a tone-deaf tweet: “Ironically, guys, speaking out against Harvey Weinstein only makes you more sexually irresistible (consensually, of course).”
Rose McGowan — one of Weinstein’s alleged victims — quickly tweeted: “Not right not right not right not right.”
Dunham sheepishly apologized: “I’m sorry I missed the mark.”
Finally, in November, Dunham and her writing partner Jenni Konner issued a statement to the Hollywood Reporter defending “Girls” producer Miller, who was accused of a 2012 rape that same month.
“While our first instinct is to listen to every woman’s story, our insider knowledge of Murray’s situation makes us confident that sadly this accusation is one of the 3 percent of assault cases that are misreported every year,” they wrote. “We stand by Murray and this is all we’ll be saying about this issue.”
Outrage poured in, slamming the two for discrediting a woman’s allegations without offering any evidence to the contrary.
Despite saying she’d keep mum, Dunham was back at the keyboard one day later: “I now understand that it was absolutely the wrong time to come forward with such a statement and I am so sorry..”
(Zinzi Clemmons, a writer, then quit Lenny Letter, writing in a statement that Dunham’s actions “betrayed” the Lenny staff.)
In the #MeToo era, there is simply no margin for error.
Dunham’s precocious outspokenness that once charmed some audiences (even as others saw it as the privileged entitlement of a New York rich kid) today appears rudely disconnected and dangerously ill-informed.
It’s not enough to backpedal once the public gets upset over a reckless gaffe. Dunham just shouldn’t make the mistakes in the first place.
Lena, #TimesUp for acting like a silly, selfish girl. It’s time to start acting like a woman.