Lena Dunham responds to Breitbart

In her recent published memoir, Lena Dunham claimed that a college Republican named “Barry” raped her.  Her rapist wore purple cowboy boots, sported a handlebar mustache, had a voice that went “Barry White low,” and hosted a radio program called “real talk with jimbo.”

When John Nolte of Breitbart went to Oberlin to see if anyone remembered “Barry,” he turned up nothing.  A Barry did attend Oberlin during Lena Dunham’s tenure, and he was a prominent college Republican, but he did not in any way match her description – no mustache, no purple cowboy boots, no radio show, no deep booming voice, etc.  This Barry hired an attorney.  Dunham‘s publisher responded by claiming that Barry was a pseudonym, and any resemblance was pure coincidence.

Dunham also penned a response piece in which she restated her publisher’s statement – that Barry was a pseudonym for someone else.  But she went farther than that, reiterating that she had been raped, even though she had no interest in pursuing criminal charges, and excoriating skeptical journalists for not supporting victims of sexual violence.

There were two problems with this response.  First, John Nolte conducted a thorough investigation, and nobody recalled anyone matching Barry’s description, regardless of name.  Second, under no meaningful definition of rape could what she described in her book be classified as rape.

In her memoir, Dunham describes a clumsy and drunken encounter that ends with her throwing the “rapist” out for not wearing a condom.

“And up, in my roommate’s tree, I see another condom. Or the same condom. A condom that isn’t on him and maybe never was.

Now I am pulling myself up messily like a just-born foal, throwing Barry and all his clothes out the sliding door into the parking lot[.]”

Not That Kind of Girl, by Lena Dunham, pages 59-60

In reading the chapter on Barry, I can’t help but detect the odor of the fabulist here.  We have the too good to be true story and the larger than life character who is a little too larger than life.  Also, as a hypocritical social conservative, Barry seems pitch-perfect to play to the prejudices of her liberal fan base.  Given that she writes fiction for a living, Dunham would be perfectly capable of passing off an invented character as real.

“Barry” may be the pseudonym for a real person, he may be a composite of different people, or he could be a total fabrication.  I don’t know.  The fact that, at a school with only three thousand students, nobody remembers a flamboyant character like this gives us the right to be suspicious.