7-Year-Old Lena Dunham Wasn’t A Child Molester, But Adult Lena Is A Boundary-Crossing Creep

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Lena Dunham Book LaunchLena Dunham‘s new book, Not That Kind Of Girl, is raising some eyebrows, and probably not for the reasons Dunham intended. In this memoir, Dunham included a number of passages that describe her having some pretty questionable interactions with her younger sister Grace Dunham. Is it within the realm of weird stuff little kids do? Maybe. But what isn’t within the realm of normal is a grown-ass woman thinking it’s okay to write about spreading open her one-year-old sister’s vagina to take a look. As a child maybe Dunham really didn’t know any differently, but at 28, it’s well past time to figure out how boundaries work.

Note: The following details of Dunham’s behavior might be triggering for people with experience with child molestation, or who have worked with victims. During the events she wrote about, Dunham was seven years old; Grace was only one. The key passage is this one, although Dunham later writes about bribing her sister with candy for several-second-long kisses, giving her control of the TV remote to lay on top of Dunham on the couch, and even, as an older child, masturbating next to her in bed:

“One day, as I sat in our driveway in Long Island playing with blocks and buckets, my curiosity got the best of me. Grace was sitting up, babbling and smiling, and I leaned down between her legs and carefully spread open her vagina. She didn’t resist and when I saw what was inside I shrieked…. My mother didn’t bother asking why I had opened Grace’s vagina. This was within the spectrum of things I did. She just on her knees and looked for herself. It quickly became apparent that Grace had stuffed six or seven pebbles in there. My mother removed them patiently while Grace cackled, thrilled that her prank had been a success.”

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  1. Jen TheTit Whisperer

    November 3, 2014 at 8:37 am

    My guess is that the Dunham family in general has some serious boundary issues. While my response to my 7 year old behaving in such a manner would be different than Lena’s mother’s response, I cannot speak on that. However, Dunham absolutely took her sister’s voice from her. I appreciate what Dunham has done in some circles, but this just solidifies my previous feelings that there is something about her that is not quite “right”.

  2. Shadow

    November 3, 2014 at 8:43 am

    Dunham was always rubbed me the wrong way, so it’s nice to see that I’m not the only one in the world who could take her or leave her. She does do a lot in some circles, like you said, but to me she seems so…I don’t know…attention grabby? In-your-face for the sake of being in-your-face? That’s just one millennial’s opinion.

    • journalgal2

      November 3, 2014 at 9:37 am

      I totally agree. I don’t see where this reputation as some sort of cultural revolutionary is coming from. All I see is mediocre writing and acting and a 20-something acting like she has all the wisdom of the world.

    • AP

      November 3, 2014 at 1:26 pm

      I don’t like her either, for the same reason, but also because I feel that the media tends to treat her as the Authority on All Things Millenial. Frankly, I don’t think she’s produced enough of a body of work to justify being labled or treated as the voice of a generation. At this point in her career, I think her thoughts and opinions are not much more powerful or legitimate than anyone of her peers.

      When you cite an expert in an article, you need to answer the question, “Why do I care what this person thinks?” Lena Dunham has not yet proven why we should care what she thinks over anyone else.

    • brebay

      November 3, 2014 at 5:02 pm

      I haven’t cared for her since “Tiny Furniture.” She’s just not my cup of tea. Pile on the fact that the media seems to love her just to be ironic, and…it’s just too much for me. She may be a feminist, I don’t know, but what she says and does she’s doing for attention, not feminism. And if you need lots of attention, cool, get some, I just never got what the big deal was about her.

  3. Wicked Prophet Kay Sue

    November 3, 2014 at 8:43 am

    Kids are naturally curious about bodies. Understood. But I do think I would have handled the situation described much differently–I most certainly would not have just waved it off. There would have been a talk about boundaries. I don’t think Lena was a predator, but I do think she crossed some serious lines there, when she should have had some parental guidance, and she most certainly crossed major lines talking about the situations with Grace in such a public forum. I just can’t with that at all.

    • Katherine Handcock

      November 3, 2014 at 9:14 am

      I don’t think we can know whether a talk about boundaries happened, since we’re only getting this from her (child) perspective. However, you’re absolutely right that we can be sure about her adult problem with not getting that it’s unacceptable to talk about her sister without her permission. Not acceptable by any stretch of the imagination.

    • Wicked Prophet Kay Sue

      November 3, 2014 at 9:20 am

      I’d hope if there was a talk, she’d have remembered it, and that it would have influenced her future behavior–which it doesn’t seem to have. So I do feel comfortable assuming from her flippant tone about that and her other incidents with her sister that her parents probably handled it differently than I would have. But of course, you don’t have to come to the same conclusion. 🙂

    • Katherine Handcock

      November 3, 2014 at 11:32 am

      😀 No, and on Mommyish, we’ve all got to be prepared for that!

      I guess I can see a situation where the idea just never sunk in (for whatever reason) so a kid’s brain wrote it off as one of those weird things parents say. But I’d agree that I really, REALLY hope there was a conversation about it at the time.

  4. Jennie Blair

    November 3, 2014 at 8:51 am

    Idk who this woman is, and I can’t say I will be buying her book, but as I’m about to have a baby girl the thought of anyone at any age looking at her baby vagina gives me the serious creeps.

    • shel

      November 3, 2014 at 10:09 am

      You’re going to be doing it when you are changing her diapers (or should be, poop gets everywhere!)… her doctor will be looking at it during her check ups….

      I don’t condone or agree with what she is writing in this book… and some curiosity and exploration can be very normal at this age… but there are times and reasons where people need to examine an infant/ child’s various body parts.

    • Guest007

      November 3, 2014 at 11:29 am

      I’m pretty sure it was implied that the exceptions would be dr/caregiver/parent who has a reason to be down there (examination/diaper change/bathing) and not just anyone who was ‘curious’ and wanted to take a peek.

    • shel

      November 3, 2014 at 12:39 pm

      I can’t know that for sure- “The thought of anyone at any age looking at her baby vagine gives me the serious creeps”
      Doesn’t leave much room for implication. And you’d be surprised the things people have problems with when it comes time for their child to be examined by a physician. Or the issues people have themselves- remember the article about how dad’s shouldn’t change their baby daughter’s diapers because it was pedophilia?

    • rockmonster

      November 3, 2014 at 1:03 pm

      “remember the article about how dad’s shouldn’t change their baby daughter’s diapers because it was pedophilia?”

      That was a thing?

      Sometimes I’m really glad that I didn’t join the site until a few months ago.

    • Katherine Handcock

      November 3, 2014 at 2:46 pm

      Yep, there’s a whole bunch of dads who use that as their excuse to get out of diaper changing duty.

    • Guest007

      November 3, 2014 at 5:25 pm

      Fair enough. All I can say is that I (and others) took her comment to have the implied exclusions. Jennie Blair can be the only one to clarify what she really implied, and respectfully disagree that her comment “doesn’t leave much room for implication.”

    • ChickenKira

      November 3, 2014 at 10:29 pm

      Yeah, I thought that was pretty obvious too.

    • Katherine Handcock

      November 3, 2014 at 11:46 am

      There’s a certain amount of natural curiosity about bodies that happens between kids, so while it seems weird to an adult, it is a normal/natural thing (to an extent.) And it’s not just vulvas that are fascinating — boys will compare penises, girls will check penises out and laugh that they’re different from what’s on their body, the works.

      There’s nothing wrong with telling your kids that you don’t find it acceptable, so that can definitely be your family’s policy, just don’t worry too much if, at some point, you find your daughter comparing bits with another kid.

    • brebay

      November 3, 2014 at 5:14 pm

      A seven-year age difference is the disturbing thing because there’s no way it’s mutual curiosity and there’s too much size and power differential. This is not normal, and I feel badly for both girls that the parents never taught boundaries and got Lena some help. I’m not saying she’s a pedophile, but what she did was wrong, and seven is past the age when that kind of curiosity is developmental normal as between children of similar ages. Comparing bits with a friend of the same age or a sibling close in age is not this.

    • Guest

      November 5, 2014 at 3:01 pm

      I completely agree and I’m a little bit confused by all the people who seem to think that this is natural curiosity and exploration at this age. I have a 4 year old and a 1 year old. My oldest sometimes looks over my shoulder when I change her sister’s diaper, but she has never gotten the inclination to touch her vagina or explore it. I’m going to say this is partly because we have talked to her about boundaries from a young age. She knows that it is not ok to touch other people’s bodies, just like it’s not ok for people to touch her’s.

  5. keelhaulrose

    November 3, 2014 at 8:51 am

    I can’t believe she didn’t think that those passages would stir up some controversy. I haven’t read the book, nor do I plan to, but is there a point to discussing such intimate information?

    • noodlestein's danger tits

      November 3, 2014 at 10:07 am

      Oh, please. She LIVES to cause controversy. I think that she knew exactly what she was doing when she included them. One of the things that irritates me about Lena Dunham the most is this whole ‘poor me’ cycle in which she acts in ways absolutely designed to grab attention in a negative way, and then complains about the attention she’s getting. Have I liked or agreed with everything that has been said about her? No, people kinda suck sometimes. I do think, however, that she could comport herself a little differently while still getting her voice out there, and that would solve a lot of her problems.

    • Rumaikiyya

      November 3, 2014 at 7:17 pm

      The passages actually didn’t cause any controversy until the right-wing site posted their takedown piece of Dunham, which suggests to me that they read very differently in their actual context (as there have been many reviews of Not That Kind of Girl). To date, I have not read a single article about the passages by anyone who’s actually read the book.

    • whiteroses

      November 4, 2014 at 9:31 am

      But honestly? It probably should have been controversial.

    • Ursi

      November 4, 2014 at 9:49 am

      I’ve been hearing a lot from people whose politics don’t align with that website who are also upset by what they’re reading.

      It doesn’t matter where a story comes from if the facts of the story are true, and in fact they quoted her book.

    • ChickenKira

      November 3, 2014 at 10:26 pm

      I’ve read the book and I found that it trailed off a fair bit. I wasn’t sure what the context was to be honest, but I wasn’t sure what the context of over half the book was. It was really just “Here’s a bunch of things I have done. Ta-da.”.

  6. LadyClodia the Modest Rat

    November 3, 2014 at 9:09 am

    I don’t have a strong opinion about Lena, but the last few years my opinion of her has been trending towards negative.
    That quote from Grace just breaks my heart, and I feel so bad for her. And Lena has said she knows Grace is a private person, but it seems like she just doesn’t care. That’s messed up.

  7. Katherine Handcock

    November 3, 2014 at 9:12 am

    This is not behaviour that’s unusual/abnormal for a 7-year-old (and believe it or not, it’s apparently astounding what a 1-year-old can fit in her vaginal folds — and even sometimes in the vaginal canal. My doctor told me to watch for that!) Perhaps her mom should have responded differently, perhaps not — since we’re getting this story through the eyes of a child, who knows what her mom did or did not say?

    However, it’s utterly unacceptable as an adult to describe another person as an extension of yourself, or to tell a story like this without permission. Honestly, that’s what I consider abuse in this story, not the actions of the 7-year-old.

    • Courtney Lynn

      November 4, 2014 at 7:17 pm

      This. It’s the boundary crossing I have a huge problem with.

  8. Ursi

    November 3, 2014 at 9:16 am

    I won’t compare her to an adult predator but I don’t think this falls into the spectrum of normal curiosity. This is something a parent should have put a stop to. If you read the bits about her bribing her sister for physical attention, almost using her as a sexual extension of herself…

    I’m not a fan of hers to begin with really but if she had written a book after discussing it with her sister and obtaining her consent and she said, “Hey, I did X, Y, and Z, and I’m not proud of it and I’m not condoning it,” I would stand up for her and say, “She was just a kid, she obviously didn’t realize what she was doing.” But for her to be so candid about it and even compare herself to a child molester in the book? That’s messed up, man. That’s not right. I did some WEIRD stuff when I was a kid too and none of it involved an unhealthy fixation with a sibling. I wouldn’t shame a child for this but I am none too impressed with her “whatever” attitude towards it happening. That really turns my stomach.

    • Tourmalily

      November 3, 2014 at 1:07 pm

      I agree. My sister and I were weird as heck. One time, we touched our tongues together because you can’t taste your own and we wanted to know what does a tongue taste like?

      But there was none of the creepy sexual overtones going on as there seems to be with Dunham’s behavior towards her much younger sibling, no bribery or anything of the sort, and as we’re only 14 months apart that sort of eliminated the potential for a power play, which I kind of see going on here.

      Also wtf why would she think it’s okay to WRITE about it without permission??
      Ugh ugh ugh she is just gross as fuck

    • Kat

      November 3, 2014 at 1:39 pm

      Me and my sister were 3 years appart, and yeah we did some wierd stuff together while younger but never anything like this. Me and my sister were probably more physically emotive than what siblings normally are, but that proabably had to do with our rough childhood, but it was never sexctual. We still can’t sit on a couch together without ending up draped over one another, and we are both grown adults.

      When I read about Lena Dunham bribing her sister for kisses I nearly threw up. I could never imagine taking advantage of my little sister like that. As older sisters we are supposed to protect them from older kids who might take advantage, not take advantage ourselves.

    • CrazyFor Kate

      November 3, 2014 at 3:45 pm

      Yeah, the actual act isn’t so horrible, but to write about it (likely without her permission)? That is WAY over the line. If my sister did that I’d kill her.

    • Rumaikiyya

      November 3, 2014 at 7:10 pm

      Just for sake of clarity, the Grace quotes in the article are in regards to Lena’s outing Grace to their parents, not Lena telling the anecdote. To date, Grace’s public statements (on Twitter) have been supportive of Lena.

    • brebay

      November 3, 2014 at 5:05 pm

      I agree, this is not normal, particularly for sibs so far apart in age. If we changed her from girl to boy, NO ONE would be passing it off as “mere curiosity.” It doesn’t make her an abuser, but children do commit acts against younger children that absolutely meet the definition of sexual abuse. The fact that the later things were done for her own sexual gratification and NOT curiosity is where it crosses the line. That’s what differentiates it. The fact that she was USING a child not close in age to get off. I’m sorry her parents didn’t get her help, but I’m sorrier for what she’s doing to her sister now. She has absolutely no excuse this time.

    • Rumaikiyya

      November 3, 2014 at 7:13 pm

      I think these quotes are starting to go through a game of telephone. Lena never wrote that she used Grace for sexual gratification. The kissing/resting on seem to be more about child intimacy. The masturbation one is that she masturbated in a bed while Grace was also in it, not that Lena involved Grace in the masturbation.

    • ChickenKira

      November 3, 2014 at 10:21 pm

      Really? Because in the book is specifically says that she used to get into bed to masturbate next to her sister. One’s genitals do not have to be involved in order for them to be used for sexual gratification. This didn’t occur when Lena was a child, she did it when she was a teenager and Grace was a young child.

    • Rumaikiyya

      November 4, 2014 at 10:18 pm

      The book says that Grace used to climb into Lena’s bed to sleep, not that Lena used to climb into Grace’s. All it says about Lena masturbating was that it was part of the list of things she sometimes did while Grace was sleeping next to her. It’s something she did DESPITE Grace sleeping, not because of Grace sleeping.

      This is what I mean about the telephone. She never wrote that she went into the bed to masturbate next to her sister.

    • brebay

      November 3, 2014 at 11:04 pm

      No one who uses a child ever does. The point is, it’s obvious from the acts in her teens that she did. It’s an important part of the definition of sexual abuse. A child can abuse another child. And climbing into her sister’s bed to masturbate is using the girl for her sexual gratification. That’s just what it is. She doesn’t have to be involved. People in porn aren’t “involved” in the sex of people watching them, that doesn’t mean that’s not what they’re being used for.

    • Rumaikiyya

      November 4, 2014 at 10:19 pm

      She didn’t climb into Grace’s bed to masturbate.

    • blh

      November 4, 2014 at 9:45 pm

      Oh she wasn’t INVOLVING her sister in the masturbation, she just did it while she was right there. That makes it SO much better.
      And what would you have to say if you were out and a man started to jacking off right in front of you?? I’d rather have a thousand creepy men jack off ON me then have my SISTER do any of this stuff and then write about it. I have two younger sisters much younger and this makes me sick.

  9. mamaduck_75

    November 3, 2014 at 9:26 am

    I have mixed feelings about this…I’m a sex abuse survivor, and work with support groups to help others deal with their abuse. I can see both sides, but I’ll tell you this…my own daughter was exploring her body at 1, just simple curiousity, and I have no doubt if something had been nearby the times I saw it, whatever object was near could’ve been put there by her. Kids stick anything they can grab anywhere they can stick it, even at that young age. And if Lena Dunham saw her stick pebbles there, I can easily see a 7 year old getting down and trying to see it. That’s not really abnormal behavior at all.

    I do agree, that’s the time for a parent who catches a kid doing this to step in, and use it as an opportunity to explain boundaries. Same with catching a couple of kids doing the “show me yours, I’ll show you mine”…perfectly normal, curious behavior, but behavior that needs guidance from an adult who steps in to stop it and explain why it’s inappropriate and why the children should not do that again (calmly and kindly, of course, because you don’t want to shame and terrify the kids and create a hang-up over normal exploration).

    Also, I absolutely agree that it is beyond the pale for Lena Dunham, as an adult, to share this publicly. There are ways to write or tell your own story, your experience with exploration or instances in your childhood, that protect those who are innocent and want no part of it…and that’s what she should have done. To use her sister as fodder for her book is, in my opinion, a thoughtless and despicable act.

    • mamaduck_75

      November 3, 2014 at 9:40 am

      Let me add to that, the rest of the sexual issues with her sister show an overly sexualized child. Why that is, is anyone’s guess…some children ARE naturally more sexually curious or experience feelings earlier than others, but the continued behavior with her sister is not within normal range. At some point, someone should have stepped in and gotten her some help with that behavior.

    • AP

      November 3, 2014 at 1:21 pm

      It mentioned elsewhere that she has OCD and was taking drugs for it. I wonder if this was an extension of her disorder, and if so, why her parents did not have this being handled in her treatment plan.

      Kids do really, really dumb things because they don’t fully comprehend what sexuality is, and that’s fair, but it needs to be addressed thoroughly every time it comes up, especially if it’s a pattern.

    • WriterLady

      November 3, 2014 at 1:26 pm

      My instinct is that something was amiss in the household. The father, Caroll Dunham, is an artist who paints extremely graphic nude portraits of women that are not considered “high art,” IMO. These aren’t woman beautifully laid out on a bed or something. The women are always bent over with their vaginas hanging out, and you can never see their faces or anything. It’s extremely NSFW, just as an FYI. Now, I’m not going to suggest that he specifically had some sort of real-life sexual perversion involving his daughters, but this would definitely be an odd home to be raised in. Furthermore, Lena describes her mother as having a nonchalant attitude toward some of her behavior. I don’t know. I hate to speculate, but something just doesn’t seem right with the family.

    • Katherine Handcock

      November 3, 2014 at 11:40 am

      You’ve articulated this so well, and I can only imagine it was pretty upsetting to read a person talking about this story with such casual disregard for her story. The support groups you work with are lucky to have you there!

  10. Ashley Austrew

    November 3, 2014 at 9:42 am

    I found the masturbation and bribing for kisses/physical contact more disturbing. Maybe that’s wrong of me, but I feel like little kids are curious about body parts and I could see a kid looking at their siblings private parts and then a talk needing to ensue. The kissing and masturbation feels really off to me. And her writing all of this for the world to see feels pretty damn off too.

    • Cassandra Hough

      November 3, 2014 at 2:15 pm

      No, I’m totally with you. The exploration part certainly warranted a stern conversation with her mother that apparently never happened, but I was sufficiently disturbed by the kissing bribery and masturbation scenario. There’s a 7-year gap between my sister and I, and I just… ugh. No way. No. WAY. I think that’s why I’m so put off by her cavalier attitude toward it.

    • Sgt P

      November 3, 2014 at 7:53 pm

      And if she was a boy doing that to her little sister many here would be calling for his castration as an adult.

    • AWats1

      November 4, 2014 at 10:08 am

      No you’re right. Dunham’s defenders keep trying to redirect to the pebbles in the vagina story, which might be curiosity, but the passage where she describes bribing her sister for affection and deliberately undermining her psycholically reads like something out of Lolita,

    • Guest

      November 5, 2014 at 2:46 pm

      Sorry, but, no. I have a 4 year old & a one year old, both girls. We’ve been talking about boundaries, personal space, and “private parts” since the oldest was old enough to listen. This has resulted in a child who, at 4, knows not to touch people (even her baby sister) in a way that would be unwelcome or inappropriate. I’m not a prude and I know that kids need to explore and question, but they should be doing that with their own bodies. At 7, this girl
      should have *already* known better.

  11. Heather

    November 3, 2014 at 10:06 am

    Dunham is just a creepy celebrity using her fame as an outlet for spreading her creepiness.

  12. Beth

    November 3, 2014 at 10:12 am

    She sexually violated her sister. If this was a boy who was seven and wrote the same passage in a book many of you would cry predator. Call a spade a spade, she sexually violated her sister, if don’t think so then all Stephen Collins was doing to those children was checking their vaginas out of curiosity. Grow up, she assaulted her sister.

    • CMJ

      November 3, 2014 at 10:27 am

      I would not feel any differently if a boy wrote this book.

    • Ursi

      November 3, 2014 at 10:33 am

      I would feel the same way if it were a 7 year old boy. It’s gross. But a 7 year old is not an adult.

    • KarenMS

      November 3, 2014 at 3:42 pm

      You don’t see the difference between a child and an adult in this situation?

    • brebay

      November 3, 2014 at 5:16 pm

      I agree that people wouldn’t dismiss it so quickly if it was a boy who was 7 years older. This went on into her teens. A 14-year-old boy bribing a 7-year-old girl for his own sexual gratification would not be dismissed.

    • Manic Monkey

      November 3, 2014 at 5:39 pm

      There’s a big difference between a neurotypical 14-year-old & 7-year-old in terms of expected judgment & maturity &, therefore, culpability.Hence why most people would not see having a 14-year-old watch his or her 7-year-old sibling for a few hours as negligence but would see leaving a 7-year-old in charge of 1-year-old as such, why 14-year-olds are often tried as adults & 7-year-olds are not, etc.

    • brebay

      November 3, 2014 at 6:03 pm

      And I’m talking not about the incident that happened when she was seven, but the incidents that happened in her teens. Also, that’s not how you use “hence.”

    • Christina Klaus

      November 5, 2014 at 12:56 am

      Manic Monkey obviously just wasn’t aware of how long the behavior continued. She may have been misinformed but she clearly wasn’t personally attacking you.You could have made your point without getting nasty.

    • brebay

      November 5, 2014 at 12:57 am

      Stop telling women to be sweet. I stated facts. Go find babycenter if you want a room full of sycophants.

    • Christina Klaus

      November 5, 2014 at 1:16 am

      The fact you stated in your last sentence was in no way relevant to the conversation & was clearly added just to make another commenter feel like an idiot because she (or perhaps he)dared to disagree with you.Nobody, male or female, has to be “sweet” but some basic civility would be nice.

      Go find a forum about grammer if you want to show off your obvious intellectual superiority by criticizing others’ improper use of the word hence.

    • brebay

      November 5, 2014 at 1:32 am

      Go away. Seriously. You need help if this bothers you this much. It’s alarming.

    • ChickenKira

      November 3, 2014 at 10:32 pm

      Manic Monkey, this went on until she was 14 and Grace was 7, which is why 14 and 7 were ages referenced.

  13. CMJ

    November 3, 2014 at 10:22 am

    Her reaction to the criticism is why people dislike her so much. Take responsibility for your actions, Lena.

  14. alexesq33

    November 3, 2014 at 10:23 am

    This whole article made me feel so squicky. I just don’t understand how you would put this into print unless your goal was to cause controversy? At 8 years old I changed diapers of my little sister, which necessitated cleaning out all the areas that could accumulate poop. But there was nothing sexualized or “curious” about it. My mom showed me what to do and I did it. End of story. The whole tone of this is just fucking gross.

  15. LA Face, Oakland Booty (and

    November 3, 2014 at 10:27 am

    So this is creepy as all hell, and to make things creepier, I don’t get the whole logisitics of it (the vagina incident). I mean, she says they are playing in their driveway when she decides to look at the baby’s vagina. OK, fine. We are supposed to believe that the baby put marbles in her vagina on her own, right? So, did the baby somehow wiggle her hand into her diaper to do it? The passage makes it sound like she was just outside in the driveway naked, which would make it easier for the marbles thing to happen. I guess I just don’t think that the baby is the one who put the marbles in her own vagina.

    • rockmonster

      November 3, 2014 at 10:29 am

      Yeah, that’s where I get jeebies.

    • LA Face, Oakland Booty (and

      November 3, 2014 at 10:34 am

      Yep. The whole thing is super creepy. Bribing the kid to give her long kisses and the rest of that stuff? Creepier still. I don’t plan on reading the book, so I don’t have a complete picture of what happened but ew.ew.ew. I also feel badly for her sister who no doubt didn’t want the world to know about these incidents.

    • rockmonster

      November 3, 2014 at 10:34 am

      Psst… it was pebbles.

    • LA Face, Oakland Booty (and

      November 3, 2014 at 10:35 am

      Well I can’t be expected to read! 😛

    • Tara

      November 3, 2014 at 1:46 pm

      Yeah, I grew up with three sisters and have two girls of my own and never have any of us stuffed things like that in our vaginas. This story sounds all kinds of suspicious.

    • Katherine Handcock

      November 3, 2014 at 2:39 pm

      Pediatricians will tell you it’s far more common than you think — about the same number of girls will do this as those who stick things up their noses/in their ears. After all, to a kid, it’s just one more hole in the body!

    • ChickenKira

      November 3, 2014 at 10:24 pm

      Not 7, and then magically get her diaper and pants back on and go off and play.
      Kids don’t have THAT much dexterity.

    • whiteroses

      November 4, 2014 at 9:30 am

      Yeah, but for a one year old to shove seven pebbles up her vagina, then put on her diaper and pants and continue as if nothing happened?

      Either Grace Dunham had manual dexterity that’s heretofore unknown in a one year old, or Lena Dunham’s lying. And the second option is far more likely. My son is very physically advanced, and at the age of two just now starting pulling on his own pants. I just don’t buy that a one year old could do all that.

    • Katherine Handcock

      November 4, 2014 at 11:09 am

      Was her little sister dressed again? I got the impression this was all pretty well while she was playing naked in the yard. If her 1-year-old sister was magically redressed with pebbles still in place, I now share your skepticism…

  16. Mystik Spiral

    November 3, 2014 at 10:33 am

    God, I feel so sad for her sister. If either of my sisters had continually used me as a prop in their own lives, I’d be wicked resentful.

  17. rockmonster

    November 3, 2014 at 10:35 am

    There’s nothing about this that’s not creepy.

    Poor Grace, being used like that.

    • FishQueen

      November 3, 2014 at 12:53 pm

      There’s so much not okay going on in this story.

  18. LoveInfinitely

    November 3, 2014 at 11:12 am

    Is there anything she won’t do for attention? How sad for Grace, to be dragged along and paraded this way. What child-Lena did might not count as abuse, but adult-Lena telling everyone, at the expense of her sister, is abusive and very selfish. If I were Grace I’m not sure I would want Lena in my life.

    • Looby

      November 3, 2014 at 11:54 am

      Lena is a total narcissist and I mean this in the NPD sense.

    • LoveInfinitely

      November 3, 2014 at 9:41 pm

      What is NPD?

    • brebay

      November 3, 2014 at 11:23 pm

      Narcissistic Personality Disorder, as opposed to just the casual use of the word narcissistic as a synonym for selfish. I agree fully with Looby!

    • AWats1

      November 4, 2014 at 10:02 am

      This is my thought as well. What I find most horrifying is that she says openly in the book that she enjoyed giving her sister upsetting news in the hope that it would make her more receptive to her physical advances.

    • LoveInfinitely

      November 4, 2014 at 4:01 pm

      Oh – then holy shit yes, upon further reading. Gag.

  19. LeggEggTorpedoTits

    November 3, 2014 at 11:20 am

    I didn’t know much about her before and now I wish I knew less.

    • LA Face, Oakland Booty (and

      November 3, 2014 at 11:25 am


    • EX

      November 3, 2014 at 12:43 pm

      Yerp. My thoughts exactly.

    • whiteroses

      November 3, 2014 at 3:05 pm

      There are some stories that aren’t ours to tell. Apparently, this is a lesson Lena Dunham never learned.

    • LeggEggTorpedoTits

      November 3, 2014 at 3:15 pm

      The idea of letting people tell their own stories is so hard for us as human beings, but so — necessary.

    • Dorothy Parker

      November 4, 2014 at 10:58 pm

      So many thumbs up. I have met a lot of people who don’t seem to understand that just because you feel some type of way about something does not mean IT IS ABOUT YOU and therefore, your story to share.

  20. julesgilead

    November 3, 2014 at 11:44 am

    What is described in the article is not necessarily abusive, but I also would not call it “the key passage.” Dunham’s masturbating over her sister through puberty is much more important, horrifying, and, yes, sexually abusive. I know several people who were sexually abused by older, still pre-adolescent children. It happens. The children instigating the abuse don’t always continue to be abusers as adults, but it’s still very harmful to the victims. As other people have said, I think Lena’s continued public discussion of and seeming pride in her acts is re-victimizing to her sister, and abusive, even if the abuse is no longer physically sexual.

  21. guest

    November 3, 2014 at 12:14 pm

    Bleck. And here I thought my inlaws discussing lack of boundary issues of my nephew was inappropriate…apparently I should just be happy if they don’t publish a book about it.

  22. Blueathena623

    November 3, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    The masturbating next to her gives me the squirmiest feeling, but the fact that Lena outed her sister before she was ready is what really blows me mind. In what universe is that ok?

    • Ursi

      November 3, 2014 at 12:24 pm

      Didn’t she also mention that she kind of took her sister’s coming out as an opportunity to make it all about herself because she was so pro-gay and disappointed she wasn’t a lesbian, I could have sworn I read that. Seriously, WTF is wrong with this woman.

  23. jendra_berri

    November 3, 2014 at 12:34 pm

    A 7-seven-year-old is not accountable for sexual abusive behaviours. They have no concept of right or wrong in these contexts. She did not abuse her sister because she herself was a child and children are only newly developing a sense of boundaries.
    But sharing the story publicly is unethical and harmful to her sister. I’d be hugely pissed and hurt. That feels like a betrayal of her sister.

    • CMJ

      November 3, 2014 at 12:36 pm

      I honestly think where the abuse comes in is later…as a 28 year-old woman sharing this story (that SHE KNOWS her sister has a problem with) and then acting like it’s no big deal.

    • jendra_berri

      November 3, 2014 at 4:59 pm

      Yes, the sharing is the problem. Not going to crucify someone for something they did at 7. But she’s not 7 anymore and her sister is not okay with this story.

    • Rumaikiyya

      November 3, 2014 at 7:19 pm

      Grace had problems with Lena outing her to their parents. To date, she has only posted publicly in support of Lena in regards to the Not That Kind of Girl anecdotes. The Grace quote in the Mommyish article are pulled from the interview about Lena outing Grace and have nothing to do with Not That Kind of Girl.

    • CMJ

      November 3, 2014 at 7:21 pm

      But it still highlights the bigger problem, no? That Lena doesn’t know how to separate her life from her sister’s?

    • Rumaikiyya

      November 3, 2014 at 11:02 pm

      But people weren’t taken aback by it. Her book was reviewed all over the place with no one even alluding to the Grace sections until the right-wing site’s piece was published. I don’t think her Twitter freak out was particularly entitled either… her anecdotes are being framed in a very upsetting way, out of their context, and most of the articles are being written by people who can’t even be bothered to read the actual memoir.

    • tk88

      November 3, 2014 at 1:37 pm

      Not speaking to this story specifically, but a young child, even younger than 7 most definitely can be sexually abusive. Nine times out of ten they’ve been sexually abused themselves and are acting it out, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not traumatic for the other child being hurt. But they can still be tiny sexual predators and develop into teen and adult ones if they’re not helped.

  24. tk88

    November 3, 2014 at 1:26 pm

    I’ll be honest, I can’t stand Lena Dunham and don’t think she’s funny at all. But it’s a big deal to call someone a child molester. I haven’t heard this whole story so I can’t really speak to it. It does sound like it could be simple curiosity, and it sounds like it could have been abuse too. The things that trouble me the most are her general behavior/attitude about it, and the fact there was such a large age gap between the girls. Also, I heard somewhere that this supposedly continued until Lena was in her late teens. If THAT is the case then it’s WAY past “curiosity” but I don’t know how true that is. I’d really like to hear from her sister. Does she feel like she was abused? Or does she think it was just Lena being “weird” and overstepping boundaries like she’s still so good at doing? I also think it’s ironic that Lena Dunham is so upset about what people are saying about her after she published this in her book. Did she really think the way she phrased what she did was normal or would just be perceived as funny? Even if it falls under normal curiosity it’s still uncomfortably weird, and not in a funny way.

    • Rumaikiyya

      November 3, 2014 at 7:22 pm

      There was a typo somewhere along the way causing people to think Lena said she was 17 and not 7. I think it’s really upsetting that bloggers are pontificating on this based on the framing of a right-wing site that wrote a takedown piece of Lena and not bothering to read the actual book before writing about it. It seems like in the context of the book, the stories are not disturbing because none of the many reviewers of Not That Kind of Girl were disturbed by it. Lena’s a comedic writer and what works comedicly in full context often doesn’t when isolated as a sentence or paragraph.

  25. Cassandra Hough

    November 3, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    Bottom line: a 7-year-old and a 1-year-old can’t define what’s harmful/safe sexual behavior between themselves. A 28-year-old woman can, though, and the fact that she re-told this story in the manner she did opens herself up for a fair amount of criticism. She should have expected as much.

  26. Michael Weldon

    November 3, 2014 at 3:18 pm

    She seems like a pretty horrible person-both as a child and now as an adult. Almost like a female Ray Rice-she might have talent but watching her shows and/or buying any of her other stuff seems akin to NFL fans who would still watch and root for Rice or the Ravens knowing what he did.

  27. brebay

    November 3, 2014 at 4:58 pm

    Wow, publishers have required consent of named parties for FAR less mortifying stuff than this. Lena’s whole thing is desperately trying to make herself seem interesting to mask her insecurity, but using your own sister is pretty low. If these things did happen, she should absolutely have gotten Grace’s permission to write about them.

  28. Beth

    November 3, 2014 at 5:14 pm

    The reaction to this across the internet is sending me into a rage spiral. When I was a little girl I put a bar of soap into my vagina, the handle of a hair brush, and the top half of a bottle of shampoo. Why? because I was curious. And I was way, way, older than Grace was when she put pebbles up there. If I had discovered my vagina at one like she had I probably would’ve gotten myself into a hilarious medical situation by sticking god know’s what up there. I also played with myself in the living room uncaring that someone might walk in. I did it every time I bathed and went to the toilet and did it in the same room as my sister while I was on the top bunk and she was on the bottom. If I had not had been so fascinated with myself I probably would’ve asked a sibling or a friend to “show me yours I’ll show you mine” kids have been playing doctors and nurses for fucking ever. Call it what you want but looking at your own private bits or someone else’s and yes even touching and kissing is all well WELL within the range of normal that the people screaming “Sick!” are making me want to slam my forehead against the wall. Lena was seven. Who here at seven knew what sex was? If you as a seven year old saw a bulge in your sister’s vagina or saw her putting things up there wouldn’t YOU look too? And for those saying if a boy had done this at the same age you would cry “Predator!” No, no I would not because there is nothing sexual in the head of a seven year old boy and little boys can be just as curious as little girls if not more. In fact if someone did try to ruin the life of a seven year old boy for doing this and demand counseling or something worse I would probably foam at the mouth in a rage. Lena did nothing wrong except for perhaps being too open about this and wording it terribly. If this situation had happened with my children the one in trouble would not have been Lena it would have been Grace. I would’ve told her gently not to put things up there because while it can be pleasurable and interesting to do so things can get stuck up there. We need to drop this tabboo attitude towards sex and our own bodies. Lena was a curious little girl nothing more. Anyone who thinks otherwise is the sick one.

    • brebay

      November 3, 2014 at 6:06 pm

      You’ve missed the point entirely. This wasn’t her body, it was her sister’s, who was too young to be used to satisfy her sister’s curiosity (which MAYBE the incident at seven was) and for Lena’s own sexual gratification (which the behavior in her teens was).

    • Ursi

      November 3, 2014 at 6:23 pm

      Uhhh seriously? Dropping taboo attitudes towards sex is one thing. Letting your 7 year old fool around with her baby sister is another. WTF?

      If that were my kid there wouldn’t be any “getting in trouble” there would be a lot of getting therapy.

    • nikki753

      November 3, 2014 at 7:51 pm

      Most people here have said that for a 7-year-old to do such a thing is not a terrible thing. But, at that point, her mom should have parented her and said, “Your sister’s vagina is hers alone and not something for exploring. If you’re changing her diaper, you have to make sure it’s all cleaned up. But other than that, if you’re curious about vaginas, here’s a mirror. Check yours out.” That part is fine.

      Most people believe that it is distinctly not okay to include stuff like this in a book where there is no question as to the person she is talking about without her sister’s consent.

      If one of my sisters published a book and wrote things like that about me in it, I would be livid. Grace has said she is a private person and Lena needs to accept that.

    • Simone

      November 4, 2014 at 4:34 am

      That’s a really great response to that hypothetical situation. I’m really impressed.

  29. wannabevenus

    November 3, 2014 at 5:45 pm

    I think it’s too bad she had to discuss personal and potentially embarrassing things about her sister publicly.

  30. nikki753

    November 3, 2014 at 7:36 pm

    Any debate of predator or not aside, even just putting “One time, my sister shoved a bunch of rocks in her vagina!” into a book for all to see when your sister is very private and it’s not like you wrote under a pseudonym is an asshole move.

    I haven’t read the book and I don’t much care to but from this, it sounds pretty cavalier when she says, “My mother didn’t bother asking why I had opened Grace’s vagina. This was within the spectrum of things I did.” That sounds like some straight up indigo child bullshit. “It was just on the spectrum of things I did!” So therefore whatever she does is okay because it’s just on the spectrum of things she did/does. Ugh.

  31. Sgt P

    November 3, 2014 at 7:52 pm

    “basically compared Dunham’s interactions with her sister to that of the man who raped her, and to basically blame her for ruining that man’s life.”

    Basically? Nice weasel word.

    Is it OK if I call the catcalling Hollaback video “basically” rape and harassment? Is saying good morning to a woman on the street basically harassment in your opinion?

  32. Lela

    November 3, 2014 at 8:09 pm

    Gross. Sorry, not a fan. Peace out and god speed to her.

  33. ChickenKira

    November 3, 2014 at 10:15 pm

    I’ve had a few conversations with different people about that passage in the book (one of the perks of being a librarian, people bring the book back and want to discuss it) and some think it’s abuse, some think it’s normal, but I found myself sitting there while reading it going “Wait, you’re telling me that my 1yr old cannot get food in her mouth 50% of the time, a hole that is MUCH BIGGER and in an easier to access location, but little Grace Dunham managed to get 7 pebbles up her vagina without any troubles and the one time she thought it would be funny to do this occurred just before 7yr old Lena Dunham thought “Hey, I’m going to pull my toddler sister’s pants off and spread her labia and take a peek” Really, that’s what happened was it?”

    Sorry, not entirely buying that story. Heavily embellished, at most.

    Personally, I’m on the side of there was a 1yr old who was inserting things in her vagina and a much older sister helping herself to her body for curiosity purposes and as a teenager was crawling into bed with her child sister to masturbate and as an adult she feels this is normal behaviour, so something not quite right was happening in the lives of these girls. This isn’t typical behaviour like Lena is describing, and the idea that she thinks it is, well, that’s alarming. Curiosity is normal, the actions she describes are not. What happened to make her think that this is normal?

    • whiteroses

      November 4, 2014 at 9:40 am

      My son is pretty physically advanced. At two he can take off his own diaper, pull off his pants and put his pants and shirt back on. No way in hell a one year old could do that, sorry- because my two year old can’t even put on his own diaper. I don’t buy it.

      I’m not a Lena Dunham fan. She’s always seemed a bit too “I am too edgy for words” to me. But this is bonkers.

  34. brebay

    November 3, 2014 at 11:15 pm

    Dear old dad with some of his art. At the very least, Lena seems to have been overstimulated and pre-occupied as a child. It’s a shame no one saw that she at least needed some help to sort out her feelings, and that Grace had to suffer for it. Some kids can be around this kind of art, and nude models, and adult things, and get the message that the human body is natural and normal. Another kid can become hyper-sexual and confused and preoccupied. It really seems like this was a family issue, feel bad for both girls. Lena seems to still be seeking so much attention, makes you wonder whether she ever got enough.

  35. brebay

    November 3, 2014 at 11:16 pm

    They’re all like this. How could a kid not have some issues?

    • blh

      November 4, 2014 at 9:55 pm

      OMG. Those aren’t even GOOD.

      Yeah that about explains it, though.

  36. Rumaikiyya

    November 3, 2014 at 11:31 pm

    So as far as I can tell, this story is only a story because people are writing about it based solely on what’s quoted in the Talk Revolt hit piece. Her book has been out for weeks and no one blinked an eye. That may be because there is a context for what Lena did. Her mom had been explaining about how women had uteruses with eggs inside and Grace’s genitals would look just like Lena’s except smaller. Lena was trying to see Grace’s tiny uterus and the eggs. It was obviously non-sexual, which is probably part of why Lena’s mother didn’t worry about it.

    Likewise, the quoted passages that included the lines about bribing for kisses are part of a general discussion of Lena’s need for Grace to value her as an older sister. Her actions were about emotional need, not sexual gratification. It is unhealthy (and she’s not portraying it otherwise), but also not unusual for younger/older sister relationships (and not particularly sexual).

    It’s also bothering me that I’m seeing so many articles that say Lena sexually abused Grace with no hedging language, such as alleged. When a survivor reports on abuse the charge is always described with hedging language. In this case, Grace has explicitly challenge the interpretation of her as being abused. And yet, THIS is the instance where all of a sudden media people don’t feel a need to hedge? (also, isn’t it a bit disingenuous for people to frame the issue as Lena not respecting Grace’s autonomy and write to tell her own story but to not respect Grace’s statements?)

    Also, why isn’t the fact that the book has been out for weeks and heavily reviewed (including by feminist critics such as Roxane Gay) with only one crazy anti-Dunham right-wing blogger making the abuse claim giving people pause? If it were as cut and dried as the Truth Revolt person made it sound, don’t you think other book reviewers would have said something about it?

    • brebay

      November 3, 2014 at 11:33 pm

      There is no “always” when it comes to reporting abuse.

  37. AlbinoWino

    November 4, 2014 at 12:32 am

    I remember taking baths with my older brother until I was around 3. I think that’s when I started to realize we had different gear and she noticed I was getting sort of weirded out by it. Then we took separate baths.

  38. Pingback: Lena Dunham Addresses Abuse Allegations With Official Statement

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