Dunham on Book Backlash: 'I Don’t Care What Conservative White Men Think About Me’

On Bill Simmons’ Wednesday podcast of “The B.S. Report,” feminist writer and actress Lena Dunham discussed the controversy over her book Not That Kind of Girl, declaring, “I don’t care what conservative white men think about me.”

As part of the promotional tour for the launch of the fourth season of her HBO show Girls, Dunham appeared with Simmons and discussed the show and her recent autobiographical book. Since release of her book last year, Dunham has been surrounded by controversy. The premiere of the new season of her show fell off by a stunning 39% since last season, which some are blaming on her controversy-plagued last few months.

Dunham suggested to the sympathetic host that conservatives were trying to smear her for political reasons by manufacturing stories, one of which (reported by TruthRevolt) was written “the day after I launched a Planned Parenthood campaign and the day before the midterm elections.” But, no matter, she said, she doesn’t care what “conservative white men” think anyhow:

I don’t care what conservative white men think about me. But I do care if anything I write is painful for survivors of sexual abuse, if anything I write is painful for other feminists. The difference between not caring sort of what your sort of enemy party thinks of you and caring about how you effect people whose values line up with yours is very vast.

Despite how many characterized her upbringing in her book, she said she and her sister had been taught “very healthy” sexual boundaries. While she did admit that she regrets describing herself as pursuing her sister like a “sexual predator”—one of the key lines highlighted by TruthRevolt and others—in the end, she made clear (and Simmons wholeheartedly agreed) it is she who has been "victimized":

It was painful to be accused of being things that I know I’m not, and to sort of have what I thought was a very natural childhood experience and curiosity vilified.

At one point, Dunham insisted that she is a staunch proponent of the freedom of expression, but did not explain how that comported with the lawsuit she threatened against TruthRevolt for quoting her book and interpreting it in a way she did not like. 

Dunham did thrown in one back-handed compliment for “right-wing websites,” though, saying "They know how to di it. They line it up and they knock it down."

After Dunham went on a "rage spiral" in response to a story by TruthRevolt highlighting passages in her book describing her self-termed “sexual predator”-like pursuit of her six-year younger sister, the story went viral and resulted in strong pushback online from readers—including some victims of child sex abuse—about the reckless and insensitive nature of Dunham’s treatment of the issue. When the issue first erupted, Dunham threatened to sue TruthRevolt if we did not retract the story, but TruthRevolt refused. The scandal was enough to require Dunham to temporarily cancel her book tour and issue an apology for her portrayal of the events in her story.

At the same time another controversy was brewing: At one point in the book, Dunham describes being raped by the “campus conservative” named “Barry.” When Breitbart’s John Nolte began to look into the allegations, details of the story unraveled. When the real-life, completely innocent Barry began raising money for a legal fund for a lawsuit, the Dunham team issued another apology, this time explaining that though the details of her story matched up with the real Barry, he was not actually the rapist. The publisher also announced that it would add a disclaimer in the book to prevent future confusion and pay for any legal fees the real Barry incurred..  

Though it's been a year of controversy for the celebrity and her show's premiere was disappointing to say the least, according to Forbes, Dunham is doing just fine financially, making good use of her $3.7 million book advance by upgrading her living situation with a new $4.8 million condo in Brooklyn.

This article has been updated. Video, partial transcript via Gossip Cop