Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Honesty is such a Lonely Word

I've never seen Lena Dunham's TV series "Girls," and probably wouldn't care for it if I did see it (which isn't saying much, since I don't care for most contemporary TV shows), but I'm appalled at how she is being treated on the internet in the wake of her comments in her new autobiography

     I haven't read the book, but I have read the excerpts that are being objected to, and they appear to be nothing more than examples of childhood curiosity. 

     And yet it is being characterized as "molestation" and even "rape," even though the incidents described occurred solely among small children, not an adult or teen toward a much younger child.  (The distinction may be difficult to grasp for those who equate an embryo with the Gerber baby.)

     Some have objected to Lena revealing these incidents at all.  But in my view that is a problem with the readers, not the author.  When a writer shares common human experiences that are not normally discussed, they ought to be commended for their openness and honesty, not have it thrown back in their face or their words twisted into a sinister shape.  If the readers were similarly honest, they would be sympathetic and appreciative of the writer's bravery. 

     Instead of reciprocating with similar honesty about their own lives, the reaction that I've seen online has been to cast Lena as some kind of dangerous freak.  I think that Lena's intention with her book was to relate to others like herself in a transparent way.  It's a shame that those who have criticized her are not similarly honest in their response. 

     To my mind, the negative reaction all boils down to partisan bashing.  Since Lena is an outspoken feminist, everything that she does becomes fodder for attacks by those who disagree with her political views.  Her words are being treated in the same way as a "political gaffe."  And just as a politician's words will be twisted and harshly used against them by their opponents, so Lena's words are being used against her by those who oppose her political opinions. 

     This latest controversy is in fact a perfect example of "manufactured outrage."  Those who are objecting to Lena's recollection of childhood thoughts about sexual matters are likely not objecting to the content of the incidents but the person involved.  My advice for anyone wanting to know what to think about this issue is to change the name of the person(s) involved and then make your judgement.