“I didn’t have the ‘insider information’ I claimed.”
Lena Dunham on Wednesday apologized to an actress whose rape allegations she tried to discredit last year, but she suggested that in her action she had been influenced by social forces beyond her control.
Dunham, the 32-year-old creator of HBO’s “Girls,” published an open letter in The Hollywood Reporter in which she admitted to misrepresenting her knowledge of the claims to protect her friend Murray Miller, who was a writer on her hit TV series.
“There are few acts I could ever regret more in this life,” she said. “I didn’t have the ‘insider information’ I claimed but rather blind faith in a story that kept slipping and changing and revealed itself to mean nothing at all.”
Later in the essay, though, Dunham pointed an accusatory finger at the so-called patriarchy, saying: “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.”
Actress Aurora Perrineau, who appeared alongside Jennifer Lawrence in “Passengers,” came forward last year to allege that in 2012, when she was 17 years old, Miller took her and some friends to his Los Angeles home, and she later woke up with him “on top of me having sexual intercourse with me.”
She added: “At no time did I consent to any sexual contact with Murray.”
Miller, a former producer on “King of the Hill” and “American Dad”, who was 35 years old at the time of the alleged incident, denied the accusations.
At the time, Dunham and her co-show runner Jenni Konner released a statement defending Miller and attempting to undermine Perrineau.
“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 per cent of assault cases that are misreported each year,” they said. “It is a true shame to add to that number, as outside of Hollywood women still struggle to be believed. We stand by Murray and this is all we’ll be saying about this issue.”
Days later, amid outcry that Dunham and Konner had betrayed the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment and sexual assault, the women apologized for their statement.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office later declined to file charges against Murray, citing the expiration of the three-year statute of limitations and “inconsistencies which cannot be overcome.”
Still, Dunham’s defense of Murray helped diminish her one-time status as a liberal darling. Dunham has also struggled in other ways meet the ever-shifting standards of progressive culture, requiring repeated denunciations and apologies on her part.
In her letter Wednesday, Dunham ― who has revealed she was sexually assaulted in college ― seemingly sought to use the language of #MeToo to simultaneously indict and exculpate herself.
One one hand, she averred not to be “special because of my trauma,” and chastised herself because she had “walked around feeling like such a victim” and “never stopped, much less stopped to consider that I might be capable of traumatizing somebody, too (the exact complaint I’ve always had about old white man artists).”
“And so I made a terrible mistake,” she said.
But Dunham also dwelled on her own “trauma” at some length, saying, “Like so many women (so many people), I disguised my pain with medication and stuff and chronic overwork, with social media and mindless dating and the random day-to-day drama we generate to stay out of our own experience.”
Near the end of the essay, Dunham declared her love for Perrineau and her loyalty to the social justice movement.
“I love you. I will always love you. I will always work to right that wrong,” she said, “In that way, you have made me a better woman and a better feminist.”