Lena Dunham Date Rape Experience in College – a Cautionary Tale

Dunham

Lena Dunham has drawn a lot of attention for her HBO show Girls as a modern day Mary Tyler Moore or Rhoda, depicting single girl life and sex lives in a comedy that borders on reality. Anyone who thinks Dunham exposes a lot on Girls should realize that she exposes more in her highly anticipated book of essays, Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s ‘Learned,’ which was released Tuesday. While not exactly Pulitzer Prize material, the memoir does include a chapter that should be mandatory reading for girls going off to or in college. Lena Dunham provides a cautionary, all-too-common tale about a date rape experience she endured in college.

Dunham’s introduction to the book explains her desire to educate readers about life outside school and lousy sex that makes one “want to run away during the act.” The 28-year-old hopes that her stories help readers avoid similar mistakes, then “every misstep of mine was worthwhile,” Dunham wrote.

The bad or unwanted sexual encounter while in college is one misstep too many coeds experience. Drugs and alcohol at a party led to an inability to deal with the guy, who set off alarm bells in her head right away that she did not acknowledge. He forced himself on her. She was in no condition to give consent at all much less the fact he did not use a condom. Her roommate later told her the encounter was rape. Dunham said, “it was a painful experience physically and emotionally,” which she “spent a long time trying to reconcile.”

Dunham’s experience is all too common. Government statistics report that 19 percent of women in college experience an attempted or completed sexual assault. Strangers are involved in less than 14 percent of sexual attacks; it is usually an acquaintance or partner. Dunham knew her attacker vaguely and acknowledged that, through others, she recently tried to let him know she was writing about the encounter.

Statistics show that her attacker most likely did the same thing to others. In one research study, nine out of 10 males who had assaulted someone sexually admitted to doing it more than once. The perpetrator will actually assault six people on average. Yet, more than half of all college sexual assaults, like Dunham’s, go unreported. Campuses and legislators are trying to change that.

In many date rape situations, the victim is in no condition to consent. New rules (and laws, in the case of California) on campuses are being implemented that consent must be affirmative. In addition, the partner must be conscious or sober enough to be cognizant of their decision.

Many view Dunham as the voice of her generation. TIME magazine named her one of the 100 most influential people in the world. She became a fierce advocate of campus reforms that address sexual violence. But, by sharing her cautionary college tale with her usual candor, Lena Dunham is using her date rape experience to educate others about the problem.

By Dyanne Weiss

Sources:
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
TIME
NY Daily News
EOnline

One Response to "Lena Dunham Date Rape Experience in College – a Cautionary Tale"

  1. Chris Ryan   October 2, 2014 at 6:24 pm

    From the excerpt I read she says “she talked dirty to him as they started having sex”. Sounds like affirmative consent to me. The only way this is rape is if he drugged her. But we know from the excerpt that she drugged herself on Xanax and cocaine. He didn’t even see her do it. It sounds like a regrettable incident but the blame lies with her.

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