A former writer for Lena Dunham‘s feminist newsletter Lenny Letter has quit in absolutely spectacular fashion after Dunham accused an alleged rape victim of lying.
Zinzi Clemmons, an author and journalist who has written numerous pieces for Lenny Letter, posted a statement to social media today saying that she can no longer write for the newsletter when Dunham and co-founder Jenni Konner consistently display blatant racism.
“As a result of Lena Dunham’s statements, I have decided that I will no longer write for Lenny Letter,” she said. “For all your writers who are outraged about what she did, I encourage you to do the same. Especially women of colour. She cannot have our words if she cannot respect us.”
The alleged rape victim in question, Aurora Perrineau, has accused Girls writer and producer Murray Miller of raping her in 2012, when she was just 17 years old.
She provided a statement to police that alleged that after meeting Miller at a bar and reluctantly following him home, along with two friends, she had woken up naked, with Miller “on top of me having sexual intercourse with me. At no time did I consent to any sexual conduct.”
Dunham’s quick defence of Miller and her accusation that Perrineau – an actress and woman of colour – was seen as yet another incident of Dunham’s white feminism actively harming people of colour.
In her public notice this morning, Clemmons said that she’s attending a Nigerian literary festival on the themes of feminism, “which of course means black African feminism.”
She says she’s been inspired by feminist writers in the region telling women’s stories at great personal cost.
“If these women can do that, surely we can make this small sacrifice.”
She also shared this story about Dunham and her Girls co-star Jemima Kirke while at university.
“[Dunham] and I ran in the same circles in college. Jemima Kirka 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 kind of statements. In Lena’s circle, there was a girl who was known to use the N word in conversation in order to be provocative, and if she was ever called on it, she would say, ‘It’s just a joke’. I was often in the same room with her, but I never spoke to her, only watched her from afar in anxiety and horror.”
She says she’s been “overcome by emotion” since reading Perrineau’s account because “of its similarity to an incident” that allegedly happened to one of her best friends in college – by an acquaintance of Dunham’s.
“It was never addressed, and he continues to move in those circles and has a powerful job. My friend was going through a hard time then, and we decided not to report it or take it further because we didn’t want to expose her to more trauma, which would surely come from facing these people. I grew up middle class, with no family connections in the writing or art worlds, and my friend was from a similar background. We were powerless against them.”
Since publicly quitting Lenny Letter, Clemmons also confirmed that a previous article she’d written about Insecure versus other, white-focused dramas, was in fact shading Girls.
“When I wrote, ‘Insecure is extremely funny, well-written, and well-acted, as or more deserving of the awards ceaselessly languished on its white peers’ the ‘white peers’ I referred to was GIRLS. #stealthshade” she wrote.
She’s also called on Dunham to apologise to Perrineau.
You can read Clemmons’ full statement below. Neither Dunham, Konner or Lenny Letter have yet responded.