In a lengthy interview with radio shock jock Howard Stern, “Girls” star and creator Lena Dunham spoke about the rape she claims to have experienced at Oberlin College. One point she stressed is her belief that “every guy who crosses the consent line isn’t a straight-forward villain.”
The segment opens with Stern defining the encounter between Dunham and the man (who she describes as a “mustachioed campus Republican” named Barry) as rape. “You’re very honest in the book,” Stern says. “You say you were raped by a guy.”
Duhman replies simply, “Yes.”
Duhman says that she was “physically hurt” by the alleged rape and did visit a doctor. She didn’t tell her parents or the doctor that she had been raped. “My best friend Audrey knew,” Dunham says. “She was the only person who knew.”
When Stern asked why Dunham didn’t report the rape to the authorities, Dunham explained, “A big part of me thought people would say ‘You’re lying, you exaggerated; he’s more attractive than you are — why would he want to do that to you?'” Dunham added, “He was someone people knew.”
Twice Stern labeled the incident as a rape.
Dunham then talked about sharing the essay of the alleged rape with her loved ones before saying that men who cross the consent line into rape are not straight-forward villains.
It really shook [my mother] up. It was very hard for my father to read. It was very hard for my boyfriend to read. It’s not an easy thing and it’s also [unintelligible] anxiety I had been drunk and taken a Xanax and in that situation to begin with. Everything about is uncomfortable and it makes us examine — because the fact is every guy who crosses the consent line isn’t a straight-forward villain. It’s someone who has not — that’s what missing from this conversation — women need to learn to speak out; and men to talk to each other about consent, and everybody needs to take responsibility on their side of the equation.
During an interview with NPR over the weekend, Dunham discussed the difficulties in writing the “date rape chapter” and her fear that tabloid headlines would scream, “Lena Dunham tells all about rape.”
Before her book came out, Dunham told NPR that she sent an email to someone who knows the man “who perpetrated the act.” She wanted this old friend to hear it from her before the book came out. “Because at the time that it happened, it wasn’t something that I wasn’t able to be honest about. I was able to share pieces.”
Stern asked Dunham why she started “moaning and telling him how great [the rapist] was in bed” during the alleged rape. “I was thinking maybe that was smart,” Stern suggested. “That way the guy wouldn’t kill you, or something. Was that the strategy?”
“I was not in my right mind at the moment,” Dunham answered. “So I don’t know if strategy would be the right word. I think it was an attempt to make the experience feel like it wasn’t as much of a violation.”
Although the statute of limitations for rape in Ohio is 20 years, Dunham has said nothing about filing charges against her rapist. A study shows that chances are as high as 80% Dunham’s rapist has or will claim another victim.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC