Lena Dunham Speaks Out Amid “Barry” Rape Controversy From Her Book


The publisher of the book written by Lena Dunham, Not That Kind of Girl, is adding a disclaimer to her account of being sexually assaulted while attending Oberlin college. The new text will make it clear that the name of the alleged assailant as mentioned in the book is a pseudonym. In response, Dunham penned a statement on Buzzfeed.com to speak out amid the controversy regarding her account of the alleged rape she endured by a man named “Barry.”

According to Random House on Tuesday, they plan to revise both the current digital edition as well as new printed editions of Dunham’s memoir to include the new section. Although the best-selling book did include the disclaimer that various names and details were changed, it did not make an overt reference to the fact that the real name of the person who allegedly assaulted the star of Girls, 28, is not “Barry.”

Random House made its decision after Breitbart.com, an online conservative news website, questioned a passage in the book in which Dunham claims that her attacker was a Republican on campus who also sported a mustache. The book also includes numerous details regarding the personality of her alleged assailant, including the fact that he played poker, hosted a talk show on radio and worked on campus at the library. The site reported that although they had located a classmate of Dunham’s from Oberlin who was named “Barry,” he did not match the book’s description, and stated that he had never even met her. Breitbart also said they were unable to locate any another person who matched the description in the book.

After the book’s release, the man named Barry who attended Oberlin retained an attorney to help him with the issues related to the false identification by Dunham in Not That Kind Of Girl. Random House has offered to compensate the man for his attorney’s fees.

On Tuesday night, Dunham issued an apology through Buzzfeed.com, saying that “Barry” had been a pseudonym and that it was “an unfortunate and surreal coincidence” if it resembled an actual person. She also clarified that her intention when including the passage regarding the alleged attack was not to publicly identify her alleged assailant, but rather to confess her own shame in hopes of releasing it. She also said that she has no wish to speak with the man who attacked her, nor does she wish to press charges.

In her essay published on Buzzfeed, Dunham speaks out for survivors of sexual assaults who often find themselves re-victimized by a justice system that demands proof of their “purity and innocence.” She says that in most cases, the assault itself is traumatic enough for the victim that the event becomes “hazy, fragmented,” and the pain of the victim becomes “public property.”

Dunham herself said that her “character and credibility” were attacked by online commenters after the book containing the account of her rape was published, as well as when the subsequent trouble involving her use of “Barry” as a pseudonym surfaced. Dunham says that when all is said and done, her main focus is not herself, but rather the other victims of rape and sexual assault who are blamed by society.

By Jennifer Pfalz

New York Daily News
Photo by David Shankbone – License