Recently The Cut ran one of the most disturbing profiles I’ve ever read, a dissection of everything that is Lena Dunham. It would say it was voyeuristic, but the subject more than willingly submitted every square inch of herself to the reporter, knowing the details she shared would be published. There was so much in the piece, so much to break down, that Lyndsey and I discussed it at length on a recent episode of our podcast LadyBrains. Just to get an idea of how raw and cringe-worthy the whole profile is:
They officially broke up a month after her hysterectomy. It was a mutual decision, she tells me. The breakup felt real to Dunham only when she saw the announcement on E! and paparazzi showed up at her home. She has processed her feelings publicly; her 5.6 million followers saw her tweet out a list of baby names she wrote with Antonoff in 2015. (“Hey @jackantonoff I just found a potential baby name list we made in 2015. I could definitely keep this private, but then the world wouldn’t know that you suggested ‘Carrot’ over and over … Love u!!!”)
“I still think it’s funny,” she says. After the list went out, she called Antonoff a few times and he didn’t pick up right away. (He was in the studio). When he got back to her, he said, “No, it’s funny.” “He knows that being the hysterical ex-girlfriend is kinda like the weirdest, funniest, public performance.” But it hurts, too, she admits. It hurts looking at his new girlfriend’s Instagram stories (Antonoff is reportedly dating model Carlotta Kohl). “I thought I was kind of proving weird girls can have love too. And now he’s dating somebody who looks regular and normal and like girls are supposed to look.”
It also hurt when it was heavily rumored that Antonoff had very quickly started dating Dunham’s close friend Lorde, whose last album he’d produced. Antonoff defended himself, tweeting that the rumors were “dumb heteronormative gossip,” but it didn’t help that Lorde sat on his lap during the Brooklyn stop of her tour or that both discussed their late-night cereal binges and daily FaceTime sessions on various nightly talk shows and in magazines. Someone even created an obsessively researched viral PowerPoint presentation that made a near-airtight case for Antonoff’s cheating on Dunham. “Actually, I completely respect this girl, because she did a very good job and she was very funny,” says Dunham. But in the bigger picture, “it was so embarrassing,” she says, closing her eyes. “It was awful because I felt like a weird — ” She cuts herself off. “I don’t think anything happened between them. I can never know someone else’s life. I have never spoken to Ella [Lorde] about it. We haven’t talked since Jack and I broke up. It was awful, and I couldn’t do anything about it except trust that what he was saying to me was true.”
The piece ended with a very necessary acknowledgment from Dunham that maybe she had over-exposed herself,
Recently, Dunham has come to a realization that other people came to a while ago: “Yeah, I’m not for everyone.” She’s doing her best to be quieter. She skipped the Camping premiere, owing to her health, she said. She was meant to be on a New Yorker Festival panel in October with Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s Rachel Bloom and Kristen Roupenian, the author of “Cat Person.” She canceled on the day of, again citing health. While Simmons remains an active member of Time’s Up, Dunham has decided to step back. “My voice isn’t needed,” she says simply, a sentence she might never have uttered before. She’s still friends with Taylor Swift, which surprises even her. She has a new plan to go to parties only if they have no more than five other people. She doesn’t plan to quit Instagram, however, no matter how many people on the internet tell her she should. “I’m like, ‘Bitch, you get 3 million followers, then delete your account.”
The Cut profile was published less than a month ago, but Dunham couldn’t help but keep on bearing her soul. In a guest column for the Hollywood Reporter, Dunham admits she lied to protect a friend accused of rape. CBS News reports on the backstory: “Lena Dunham has issued an open letter of apology to Aurora Perrineau a year after the “Girls” creator came under fire for defending her friend, “Girls” writer Murray Miller, who Perrineau had accused of sexual assault. At the time, Dunham, who had worked with Miller for years, said she believed the accusation was false.”
My friend and colleague over at the Forward nailed the feelings of many women, liberal and conservative, upon seeing Dunham’s letter:
Sorry, Lena Dunham: Making up "insider information" in order to discredit a sexual assault victim should not be let off as a "mistake."
It should be a career-ender.
This is not about the "dominant male agenda" – it is about your choices. https://t.co/aQw8u1zbAj
— Laura E. Adkins (@Laura_E_Adkins) December 5, 2018
I can’t help but wonder if this letter, a completely unnecessary and damaging admission, is part of a pattern of self-destruction we’re seeing from Dunham. Did anyone at the Hollywood Reporter, or in Dunham’s circle of friends, seen a draft, they would have warned that by admitting she lied to protect a man accused of rape, Dunham would be digging her own grave. But maybe they did, and maybe that’s what she wants.