Lena Dunham has issued an apology after facing a backlash for her defense of Murray Miller, a former writer on Dunham’s HBO show Girls who has been accused of sexual assault.
Last week, actress Aurora Perrineau told The Wrap that she had filed a police report alleging that Miller raped her in 2012, when she was 17 years old. On the same day that the story broke, Dunham and Girls co-creator Jenni Konner released a statement in support of Miller.
“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 percent of assault cases that are misreported every year,” the statement reads. “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.”
As People reports, critics quickly labelled Dunham — who has often positioned herself as an advocate for women and victims of sexual abuse — as a “hypocrite.” Many were quick to point out that in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein allegations, Dunham expressed her support for women who spoke out against the producer. And in August, she wrote on Twitter: “Things women do lie about: what they ate for lunch. Things women don’t lie about: rape.”
“Believe women, unless they say something about a friend of mine, in which case they are liars,” one Twitter user wrote in response to the controversy.
On Saturday, Dunham released a second statement apologizing for their original words. “As feminists, we live and die by our politics, and believing women is the first choice we make every single day when we wake up,” the statement reads. “Therefore I never thought I would issue a statement publicly supporting someone accused of sexual assault but 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,” she said. “We have been given the gift of powerful voices and by speaking out we were putting our thumb on the scale and it was wrong. We regret this decision with every fiber to our being,” Dunham said in the statement.
“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. Every person and every feminist should be required to hear her. Under patriarchy, ‘I believe you’ is essential. Until we are all believed, none of us will be believed. We apologize to any woman who have been disappointed.”
But by then, Dunham had already lost some people, whom it appears she will be unable to reconcile with. One of the writers on her Lenny Letter abruptly resigned in protest over the controversy. In a post on Twitter, Zinzi Clemmons explained she was leaving the popular newsletter because of what she described as Dunham’s “well-known racism.” She elaborated, saying, “As a result of Lena Dunham’s statements, I have decided that I will no longer write for Lenny Letter. For all you writers who are outraged about what she did, I encourage you to do the same. Especially women of color.”
Read more at People.