The most remarkable part of Lena Dunham’s new memoir Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned” begins with a seemingly unremarkable story. But then Dunham does something interesting: after finishing out the chapter, entitled “Girls & Jerks,” she forces the reader to double back. And with those words, we dive back into the story of Barry, the guy who flung the condom into the tree.
Dunham writes a darkly humorous essay about a time she realized in the middle of sex that a condom she thought her partner had put on was hanging from a nearby plant. “[I]n another essay in this book I describe a sexual encounter with a mustachioed campus Republican as the upsetting but educational choice of a girl who was new to sex when, in fact, it didn’t feel like a choice at all.” Lena Dunham says she was raped, though she didn’t immediately know that it was rape.
He reached for it as if he was going to put it back on, but I was already up, stumbling towards my couch, which was the closest thing to a garment I could find.
Like many college girls, a mix of alcohol, drugs, unspoken expectations and shame may have kept her from using the “r” word to refer to the act until years later.
She clutches my hand and, in a voice reserved for moms in Lifetime movies, whispers, ‘You were raped.’ I burst out laughing.” Though for decades we’ve thought of the rapist as a man who lurks in alleyways, the data shows he’s more likely an acquaintance, friend or even a boyfriend. That makes it all too easy for skeptics to accuse women of making false claims of rape: “Despite hysterical propaganda about our ‘rape culture,’ the majority of campus incidents being carelessly described as sexual assault are not felonious rape (involving force or drugs) but oafish hookup melodramas, arising from mixed signals and imprudence on both sides,” writes Camille Paglia for Time.
And in Dunham’s second story, the thrown away condom and Barry’s aggressiveness make it clear that he did not care about what Dunham wanted.It’s her roommate that first tells her the encounter was a rape, though Dunham doesn’t believe her: “Audrey’s pale little face goes blank.