Lena Dunham, the creator and star of HBO’s, “Girls”, has created a firestorm with some people accusing her of sexually abusing her younger sister following her newly published collection of personal essays, Not That Kind of Girl. In her book, Lena Dunham describes experimenting sexually with her younger sister Grace, whom she says she attempted to persuade to kiss her using “anything a sexual predator might do.” In one passage (p. 158-9), Dunham explains and describes how she experimented with her six-year younger sister’s vagina. “This was within the spectrum of things I did,” she writes.
“Do we all have uteruses?” I asked my mother when I was seven.
“Yes,” she told me. “We’re born with them, and with all our eggs, but they start out very small. And they aren’t ready to make babies until we’re older.”
I looked at my sister, now a slim, tough one-year-old, and at her tiny belly. I imagined her eggs inside her, like the sack of spider eggs in Charlotte’s Web, and her uterus, the size of a thimble.
“Does her vagina look like mine?”
“I guess so,” my mother said. “Just smaller.”
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 came running. “Mama, Mama! Grace has something in there!”
My mother didn’t bother asking why I had opened Grace’s vagina. This was within the spectrum of things that I did. She just got 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 such a success.
Did Grace, a 1-year-old baby have the knowledge and ability to create a prank on her mother involving stuffing 7 pebbles inside her vagina?
Lena Dunham also wrote this:
As she grew, I took to bribing her for her time and affection: one dollar in quarters if I could do her makeup like a “motorcycle chick.” Three pieces of candy if I could kiss her on the lips for five seconds. Whatever she wanted to watch on TV if she would just “relax on me.” Basically, anything a sexual predator might do to woo a small suburban girl I was trying.
I shared a bed with my sister, Grace, until I was seventeen years old. She was afraid to sleep alone and would begin asking me around 5:00 P.M. every day whether she could sleep with me. I put on a big show of saying no, taking pleasure in watching her beg and sulk, but eventually I always relented. Her sticky, muscly little body thrashed beside me every night as I read Anne Sexton, watched reruns of SNL, sometimes even as I slipped my hand into my underwear to figure some stuff out.
Also, Dunham shared the “motorcycle chick” photo on Instagram (photo is included in this article) ; a photo showing a surly child wearing makeup, a T-shirt with “BAD GIRL” scrawled on it, and the caption, “that time I dressed my 5 year old sister as a Hell’s Angel’s sex property.”
There are many possible scenarios and explanations for Lena Dunham’s behavior, all of which are of serious concern.
The first possible scenario is that she made all of this up. That is a serious concern because it reflects a perverted fantasy, an extreme desire to get attention, and the inability to understand the gravity and implications of her story and the way she told it, which, she fails to realize would be defined today as sexually abusive behavior.
The second possible scenario is that it did actually happen and therefore one must question “What was the response by her mother? What else did her mother know about Lena Dunham’s behavior towards her sister?” The fact that Lena continues to reveal more inappropriate, manipulative and sexually perverted behavior towards her sister as she grew older, reveals that there must have been some implicit message of approval by a member of the family such as her mother or that her mother chose to ignore it. What was her mother’s response when Lena revealed to her mother that she was looking inside her sister’s vagina?
it is also important to note that Lena Dunham’s tone in her book reveals that to Lena, her own behavior is perceived as funny, acceptable and normal; such a response is usually an indication that this person has herself experienced sexual molestation or has been taught that this behavior (sexually touching your sister, masturbating with your sister asleep in the same bed and manipulating your sister) is OK.
All children are curious and it is common for children to explore their own body, and to do so in a sexual way; sexual curiosity is part of the normal development of a child. However it is not normal or common for a child of 7 years of age to sexually exploit her 1-year-old sister’s body, with, no repercussions by the parents. Lena’s parents should have immediately explained to her what the boundaries are and they should have explained to her sexual boundaries as they pertain to her siblings and other children.
Children of the same age sometimes choose to play ‘doctor’ as well as “show me yours and I’ll show you mine”; these are common occurrences and games by children as they explore their sexuality and anatomy. And depending on the circumstances and context, the games may turn out to not be harmful, although, it must be duly noted that some children will often play these games out of peer pressure and not necessarily out of curiosity. Today, a child can be registered as a Sex Offender for playing Doctor.
However, a child who coerces, manipulates or touches another helpless child’s vagina, without her consent, is behaving in more than an inappropriate and unhealthy manner.
It is also not normal, common or acceptable for a teenage child to be masturbating with her sister by her side.
I have numerous clients who experienced sexual abuse by their sister. one was a 4 year old boy at the time and the other was an 8 year old girl – she and her sister would molest each other. In both cases, the girls committing the sexual abuse had each been sexually abused themselves at an even younger age. Please note that it is common for people who were sexually abused to become sexual abusers.
Lena Dunham does not understand the implications of her own behavior, which again implies that somehow she was taught that sexual behavior with her sister as well as the psychological and emotional manipulation of his sister is okay. Remember children learn by watching and copying other adults, by what they are told, and by what they experienced. What was clearly missing for Lena Dunham, based on her own words in her memoir, was education, guidance and enlightenment about the joys of sex, the sexual boundaries with siblings and other children who cannot make choices (i.e. a 1-year-old baby) and the respect of other people’s choices. Interestingly, ironically and paradoxically, Lena Dunham also shares her story in her book whereby she claims she was raped by her friend Barry.
Finally, if one is already confused about what conclusions to make about Lena Dunham’s passages, her own memoirs, consider this: If the writer were a male describing how he touched his sister’s vagina when she was 1-year-old, masturbated next to her while she was sleeping or tried often kiss her, how would one react? Or if it were a male writer doing the same things to his younger brother, how would one react?
What do you think of Lena Dunham’s treatment of her sister?
“Legal definitions aside, experts in the field agree that sexually abusive behavior—juvenile or otherwise—is contact that is sexual in nature and that occurs without consent, without equality, and as a result of coercion, manipulation, game-playing, or deception (Shaw, 1999; Longo, 2002).
Sex offenses can include behaviors sometimes treated lightly, such as repeated obscene phone calls, exposure, frotteurism (rubbing against another against his or her will), and other forms of harassment. However, most adolescent offenses appear to be more serious, and adolescents are actually more likely to attempt intercourse and other forms of genital/genital or genital/anal contact than are adult offenders (Fehrenbach et al.; Allard-Dansereau et al., 1997).
The age of a perpetrator should not fool workers into ignoring unusual or aggressive sexual behavior. Nor should less severe behaviors be dismissed. Exposure (flashing), touching over the clothes, obscene, pseudo-mature language, possession of pornography, and “boys-will-be-boys” type coercion can all be signs of an abuser or potential abuser (Fehrenbach et al.; Johnson, 1988; Allard-Dansereau).”
https://www.practicenotes.org/vol7_no2/understand_jso.htm (NC Division of Social Services)
Anointed “The Woman Expert” by WGN Chicago, Patrick Wanis PhD is a renowned Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert who developed SRTT therapy (Subconscious Rapid Transformation Technique) and is teaching it to other practitioners. Wanis’ clientele ranges from celebrities and CEOs to housewives and teenagers. CNN, BBC, FOX News, MSNBC & major news outlets worldwide consult Wanis for his expert insights and analysis on sexuality, human behavior and women’s issues. Wanis is the first person ever to do hypnotherapy on national TV – on the Montel Williams show.