Lena Dunham Rages Against Right Wing Bloggers Accusing Her Of Sexual Abuse

Updated 1:04 E.T.

Author and actress Lena Dunham has been an object of widespread cultural fascination since her HBO show “Girls” debuted in 2012. She’s also figured prominently in some cultural think pieces on right-wing news websites lately, but last week those bloggers’ attention took a perverse turn.

National Review writer Kevin D. Williamson, who was echoed by Truth Revolt, accused Dunham of sexually abusing her younger sister. Dunham fought back Saturday on Twitter, accusing the bloggers of “twisting” her words.

The basis for Williamson’s accusation was Dunham’s own essay collection, “Not That Kind Of Girl” (Williamson is the same National Review writer who suggested women who have abortions should be hanged during a Twitter exchange about another blog post that was critical of Dunham). The actress described several episodes of her early experimentation with her sexuality in the book, including an account of looking up her baby sister Grace’s vagina, which Williamson called “suspicious.”

These are the incidents that Williamson believes amount to sexual abuse:

Dunham writes of casually masturbating while in bed next to her younger sister, of bribing her with “three pieces of candy if I could kiss her on the lips for five seconds . . . anything a sexual predator might do to woo a small suburban girl I was trying.” At one point, when her sister is a toddler, Lena Dunham pries open her vagina — “my curiosity got the best of me,” she offers, as though that were an explanation. “This was within the spectrum of things I did.”

“There is no non-horrific interpretation of this episode,” Williamson wrote, adding that the behavior Dunham described is “the sort of thing that gets children taken away from non-millionaire families without Andover pedigrees and Manhattanite social connections.”

He also accused Dunham’s parents of being “enablers” for “child abuse” given that her father, artist Carroll Dunham, painted “canvases anchored by puffy neon-pink labia” and her mother, photographer Laurie Simmons, “filled the family home with nude pictures of herself.”

Truth Revolt also misstated Dunham’s age at the time of the vagina episode in following up on Williamson’s piece. The post was “modified to correct a typo in the book excerpt incorrectly listing Dunham’s age as seventeen” — a change of 10 years that could have drastically altered readers’ interpretation of the event Dunham described.

Right-wing writers weren’t the only people disturbed by those parts of Dunham’s book, however. Feminist writer and critic Roxane Gay had this reaction:

Dunham, for her part, called the accusations “upsetting” and “disgusting” Saturday in a slew of tweets she described as a “rage spiral”:

Dunham also announced the cancellation of two European stops on her book tour in the days following her Twitter spree.

Update: Dunham’s younger sister, Grace, appeared to address the accusations Monday on Twitter:

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