Shortly after Lena Dunham publicly defended Girls writer Murray Miller, who has been accused of sexual assault, a writer for her feminist newsletter, Lenny Letter, announced her decision to quit.
Zinzi Clemmons took to Facebook on Saturday, November 18, to share a lengthy post explaining why she no longer wanted to work on the Golden Globe winner’s feminist newsletter, referencing Dunham’s response to actress Aurora Perrineau’s claim that the Miller sexually assaulted her when she was only 17. The statement also went on to insinuate that the Girls star, 31, is racist.
“As a result of Lena Dunham’s statements, I have decided that I will no longer write for Lenny Letter. For all you writers who are outraged about what she did, I encourage you to do the same,” she wrote. “Especially women of color. She cannot have our words if she cannot respect us. To eliminate any doubt, I know exactly who Lena Dunham is – who she was before she was famous – and have for years, and I will tell you.”
“[Lena] and I ran in the same circles in college,” she continued. “[Girls star] Jemima Kirke was in my year at RISD while I was at Brown. We had many mutual acquaintances and still do. Most of these acquaintances were like Lena — wealthy, with parents who are influential in the art world. They had a lot of power and seemed to get off on simultaneously wielding it and denying it.”
“Back in college, I avoided those people like the plague because of their well-known racism. I’d call their strain ‘hipster racism,’ which typically uses sarcasm as a cover, and in the end, it looks a lot like gaslighting — ‘It’s just a joke. Why are you overreacting?’ Is a common response to these kinds of statements.”
As a result of Lena Dunham’s statements, I have decided that I will no longer write for Lenny Letter. For all you…
Posted by Zinzi Clemmons on Saturday, November 18, 2017
She went on to detail the “anxiety and horror” that was caused by one girl in Lena’s circle who used the “N-word in conversation in order to be provocative,” stating if the girl was ever called out on it, she’d claim it was just a joke.
The former Lenny Letter writer added, “I have been overcome by emotion since reading Aurora Perrineau’s account because of its similarity to an incident that happened when I was in college.” After detailing the reason she didn’t report the incident in college, she admitted, “I still carry so much guilt, to this day, that I didn’t do more at the time, and I worry what effect that had on how she’s processed this trauma.”
Clemmons concluded the statement: “I had one reservation in this decision, and that is that there are many incredible women who work for Lenny, two of whom have supported my work with such selfless care. I would apologize to them for this decision, but I’m not doing that anymore. Their boss betrayed them by her actions, and it was wrong for her to make them choose between their authors and supporting their boss. They deserve so much better.”
“Let’s hold Lena accountable, and to me that means sacrificing some comfort and a little bit of cash, in this moment.”
As previously reported, Dunham was criticized after she and fellow Girls creator Jenni Konner released a statement defending Miller on Friday, November 17. The statement included the following, “While our first instinct is to listen to every woman’s story, our insider knowledge of Murray’s situation makes us confident that sadly this accusation is one of the 3 percent of assault cases that are misreported every year. It is a true shame to add to that number, as outside of Hollywood women still struggle to be believed.”
Following the criticism, Dunham released a new statement on Saturday, November 18, to apologize. “As feminists, we live and die by our politics, and believing women is the first choice we make every single day when we wake up,” she tweeted. “Therefore I never thought I would issue a statement publically supporting someone accused of sexual assault but I naively believed it was important to share my perspective on my friend’s situation as it has transpired behind the scenes over the last few months.”
“I now understand that it was absolutely the wrong time to come forward with such a statement and I am so sorry,” the Lenny newsletter founder continued. “We have been given the gift of powerful voices and by speaking out we were putting our thumb on the scale and it was wrong. We regret this decision with every fiber to our being.”
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