Lena Dunham wrote a self-serving 'apology' letter to the woman whose sexual assault claim she denied. The Internet isn't having it.
Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images for Lincoln Center

For a so-called feminist, Dunham does a mean impression of male entitlement.

“This year has been incredible for women in Hollywood,” Lena Dunham’s love letter to herself, which promises to include an apology to Aurora Perrineau—somewhere—begins. “We have spoken and we have spoken loudly, and our voices, once muffled under layers of crinoline and repressed rage, have been heard.”

In “have been heard,” she prematurely and presumptuously tucks the voices of #MeToo—many of whom remain radio silent—squarely in the past-tense. A summation of Dunham’s thinking here, intended or not, is this: “I have spoken loudly. I have been heard. And therefore all women have spoken loudly. All women have been heard. Right? What a triumph! We can all finally shut up, now—right after I’m done talking.”


Which is ironic, of course, when ostensibly the point of her piece is to apologize—for silencing a woman.

Equally galling are her unconscious displays of privilege, white and otherwise.

Who among us can suppress a rueful smile upon reading, “our voices, once muffled under layers of crinoline?”

As if the majority of women descend from great-grandmothers who languished in Edith Wharton drawing rooms and Rooms Of Our Own, trussed up in hoops and petticoats—as if the majority of women don’t descend from great-grandmothers who dragged their way through time from dust-blown farms, tenements, or slaves’ quarters, muffled under layers of burlap, blood, and baby shit.

The eye roll continues with, “there are magazine covers and TV specials and parties and instas celebrating the very real, very important and long overdue progress that has made.” Since when are magazine covers, TV specials, parties, and—above all—Instagram indicative of anything real?

The media blitz is nothing greater than glorified P.R.—a premature congratulations for acknowledging a problem without even beginning to solve it.

Her examples of progress reek of classism, referencing an insular experience (parties?) from which most people in Hollywood—thousands upon thousands of crew members, teamsters, assistants, and struggling artists—are excluded.

Have those women been heard? Have they witnessed, “very real, very important,” progress? I honestly don’t know. One would have to ask—and to ask, one would have to assume they have yet to be heard.

When she gets to the apology, things get worse. “To Aurora:” she addresses me and a million anonymous readers. “You have been on my mind and in my heart every day this year. I love you. I will always love you.”

In the words of venerable feminist icon and abuse survivor Tina Turner: “What’s love got to do with it?”

Love is cheap—particularly when declared on a public forum (well, unless you’re in some repressive, love-that-dare-not-speak-its-name scenario—then, by all means, shout it from the rooftops).

And love is particularly cheap when declared to a person to whom you owe contrition. In the context of an apology—to a virtual stranger—love is distracting, irrelevant, discombobulating, and subtly manipulative, robbing the maligned of their right to anger by muddying it with guilt (because are you allowed to hate someone who wuvs you?)

There’s a phony televangelist tenor to Dunham’s “I love you,” a street pimp’s ooze.

She doesn’t love Perrineau—she’s spinning a tale—selling the Romance of Sisterhood. Perrineau is a symbol: the Magdalene she learned to love in order to become Feminist Jesus. And by reducing Perrineau to a narrative device in the Story of Lena Dunham’s Redemption, she strips Perrineau of her own truth, her own story.

Again.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less