UPDATE 2: Publisher to change Dunham’s book to indicate “Barry” is an alias, offer to pay “Barry One’s” legal costs. Meanwhile, Jezebel calls search for the truth a “witch hunt”, likely without intending to suggest that Dunham’s “Barry” is as mythical as magical witches. Their “sour grapes” outburst shows they care more for their agenda than (inconvenient) facts.
“Whatever her motives, Dunham is pointing her powerful finger at this man. But as you will read in the details below, the facts do not point back at him. Not even close. This man is by all accounts (including his own) innocent.“
“…Rather than use this opportunity to clear his name (if Barry is a pseudonym this would have been an opportune time to say something), she instead condemned him through silence and made the ‘most unfortunate coincidence‘ of a man’s life all about Lena Dunham.”
—John Nolte, Investigation: Lena Dunham ‘Raped by a Republican’ Story in Bestseller Collapses Under Scrutiny, 2014-12-03
If the Barry this journalist found actually is the Barry mentioned in Dunham’s autobiography, it means she provides a description which doesn’t match facts about this man, but with such vividness I wonder if she treats this serious allegation with the same whimsical embellishments as other, less serious matters:
“Dunham writes of incorporating stories from other people’s lives and telling them as though they were her own, and of fabricating details.”
—Kevin D. Williamson, Pathetic Privilege, 2014-11-03
If you don’t care about being accurate and truthful, extra details help to spice up the book. But how is that appropriate here? Is a “rape story” entertainment? And, if the account contains false elements, as it apparently does, which parts are false?
Many people have found a man named Barry, through a simple search. But what if the name or other details which point to him are part of Dunham’s fabrications and he’s just a victim of her arbitrary concotions? In the worst case, she cynically fabricated the entire event to lend gravitas to her voice, trivializing the pain that actual victims endure. Either way, she has remained silent while an innocent human being is left hanging.
Sophie Hess, who could have helped reporter John Nolte to uncover facts regarding the allegations, told him, “Asking whether or not a victim is telling the truth is irrelevant. It’s just not important if they are telling the truth.“
Except it is very, very important to a man whom many wrongly suspect of committing the acts Dunham describes. If one were to falsely accuse Sophie Hess of stealing money from a charity or poisoning infants, she certainly would want people to investigate and to challenge the accuser. Why does this allegation against “Barry” deserve a special immunity, to go unchallenged by careful fact-checking? Are already poor victims of robbery, or disgustingly abused infants any less worthy of protection than a woman who discovers during consensual intercourse that the condom was off, against her wishes?
Also, were the actions of “Barry”, as Dunham describes them, actually criminal? She mentions a number of things which happened before she invited him back to her room, and the next day. She chose to go home with a guy who was, at best, inexperienced and clumsy, or perhaps an insensitive brute who didn’t care about her comfort. Those prior actions weren’t criminal and she didn’t opt to end the encounter. Also, the claim that “Barry” ignored her the next day is a common complaint from women who go home with a guy before building a relationship. Ignoring her wasn’t criminal, nor was it evidence of guilt. It could have been embarrassment, resentment, or simply regret for hooking up with a girl he found less desirable in the sober light of a new day.
Whatever the case, a sexual encounter cannot be retroactively made into a crime because of regret after the fact. A crime requires a lack of consent at the time, not the next day.
The crux of her allegation is she discovered the condom was not on during intercourse, twice. I imagine that, in a courtroom, “Barry’s” attorney would ask Lena Dunham how she discovered this and how she knew he intentionally removed it both times, as opposed to accidental breakage or slippage. But supposing “Barry” confessed to everything she alleges, does that violate a criminal statute? (If so, would it be a crime for a woman to poke holes in a diaphragm or to lie about being on the pill?) By her account, he didn’t complete the act, didn’t impregnate her, didn’t transmit any STD to her. The fact that he did stop and did leave when she asked him to means that any criminal case would have to be made in razor-thin margins. It also means that her self-description as a rape victim puts her in the company of women who suffered brutality, whose attackers didn’t stop and didn’t leave when asked. Making that association ought to be done more seriously, not embed accounts of the alleged event among all manner of indirection, frivolities, half-truths, and fabrications.
Contrary to her on-screen persona and writings, plus the underlying theme of her public activity, she isn’t just an average woman facing the same challenges as millions of young women. She grew up in a $6.25 million Tribeca apartment, with all manner of excessive pampering and indulgences. The “voice of her generation” nonsense is just a cheap lie. Not that I fault her or her parents for having money. Rather, I am disgusted by their over-indulgent parenting and the deceptive pose she has taken, gleefully pushed by progressive journalists who otherwise vilify the one percenters of which she has always been, by virtue of her family and now her successful TV show. How far does the farce go? Does it include pretending to be like victims of traumatic events? Does her image require trashing an innocent man’s reputation?