Harvey Weinstein and Lena Dunham’s Response to Sexual Assault Allegations Reveal a Disturbing Fact

Lena Dunham recently made another problematic remark, this time showing her support for someone who was recently accused of sexual assault. Her comment points to a bigger problem facing Hollywood (and the rest of the United States).

Lena Dunham’s comment

Black actress Aurora Perrineau recently accused Girls writer Murray Miller of committing sexual assault back in 2012. Dunham took to Twitter to defend her writer.

“I believe in a lot of things but the first tenet of my politics is to hold up the people who have held me up, who have filled my world with love,” she tweeted.

The backlash

Lena Dunham

Lena Dunham has earned backlash for her comments. | Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

Right away, Dunham and her executive producer, Jenni Konner who made similar comments, received a ton of backlash concerning their remarks. In a time when women are still fighting to be heard and believed any time they open their mouths, especially concerning sexual assault, Dunham’s tweet came off as incredibly tone deaf.

Her apology

 

Following the backlash, Dunham wrote an apology addressing her original comments. She said:

I naively believed it was important to share my perspective on my friend’s situation as it has transpired behind the scenes over the last few months. I now understand that it was absolutely the wrong time to come forward with such a statement and I am so sorry. Every woman who comes forward deserves to be heard, fully and completely, and our relationship to the accused should not be part of the calculation anyone makes when examining her case. … We apologize to any women who have been disappointed.

How her statement mirrors Harvey Weinstein’s

at The Weinstein Company and Lexus Present Lexus Short Films at The Regal Cinemas L.A. Live on July 30, 2014 in Los Angeles, California.

Harvey Weinstein also downplayed allegations. | Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

While Dunham certainly isn’t in the same category of offense as Weinstein, she did take a page out of Weinstein’s playbook by downplaying or dismissing sexual assault accusations from women of color. Men are easily believed (i.e. Kevin Spacey), while women have to fight to be believed, and women of color are believed even less.

Weinstein outright denied sexually harassing Lupita Nyong’o

Lupita Nyong'o attends 7th Annual ESSENCE Black Women In Hollywood Luncheon February 27, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California.

Harvey Weinstein outright denied Lupita Nyong’o’s claims. | Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Of the 79 actresses who have accused Weinstein of sexual assault, the only one he bothered to deny was Lupita Nyong’o. Nyong’o recently wrote a telling op-ed in the New York Times about her numerous experiences with Weinstein, her feelings then, and her feelings now.

Nyong’o is the first black woman to come forward about being sexually assaulted by Weinstein, and it seems no accident that she was also the first denied.

Zinzi Clemmons speaks out

Despite Dunham’s apology, many were immediately turned off due to her original comments on the matter. Zinzi Clemmons, a former contributor to Dunham’s newsletter, Lenny Letter, announced her decision to no longer write for the aforementioned newsletter and called on women of color to “divest from Lena Dunham.”

You can read her full statement here.

The double standard

Actress Lena Dunham attends "My Art" premiere during the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival at Cinepolis Chelsea on April 22, 2017 in New York City.

Lena Dunham has had to apologize for her statements. | Ben Gabbe/Getty Images

Ever since the Weinstein story broke, women everywhere have been told that this is an exciting time. Despite the ugly and painful process, we’ll come out the other side better for it. But the fact of the matter is, so far, things are only starting to get better for white women. Independent writer Biba Kang says:

Jane Fonda explained that the reason Harvey Weinstein’s victims were believed is that they were generally white and famous, a truth that has resulted in the intensified oppression of women of colour for centuries.

When a figure such as Lena Dunham, seen as a beacon of female empowerment, takes the time to essentially accuse a young woman of colour of lying about her alleged experience with seemingly no evidence other than ‘insider knowledge’ of Murray’s situation, it strikes a painful cord.

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