Lena Dunham’s Publisher To “Tweak” Book Passage About College Rape
In her debut memoir, Not That Kind Of Girl, there’s a scene in which Lena Dunham describes being raped by a fellow classmate when she was attending Oberlin College. The man is named “Barry” in the book and he’s described as the “campus’s resident conservative” who wore purple cowboy pants and worked at the library. Well, it turns out that aspects of Dunham’s description of Barry match that of a former student named Barry – who was a known conservative on campus –but this Barry maintains he is not the man who raped Dunham and that the two have never met. Obviously, that hasn’t stopped some people from assuming they are one in the same, which is why Real Life Barry hired a lawyer to contact Dunham and Random House about absolving him. (He also started a GoFundMe account to pay for his legal fees, which is referenced below.) Attorney Aaron Minc says that his attempts to reach Dunham and her publisher went ignored — until they threatened a lawsuit. So, yesterday, Random House released the following statement, clarifying that Rapist Barry was not actually named Barry at all and that future printings of the book will make that clear.
The statement reads:
As indicated on the copyright page of Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham, some names and identifying details in the book have been changed. The name ‘Barry’ referenced in the book is a pseudonym. Random House, on our own behalf and on behalf of our author, regrets the confusion that has led attorney Aaron Minc to post on GoFundMe on behalf of his client, whose first name is Barry.
We are offering to pay the fees Mr. Minc has billed his client to date. Our offer will allow Mr. Minc and his client to donate all of the crowd-funding raised to not-for-profit organizations assisting survivors of rape and sexual assault.
One of the issues was that elsewhere in the book, Dunham makes it clear when she’s using a pseudonym, so not making that clear in the Barry chapter has understandably led some to believe Barry is the rapist’s real name. Conservative blog Breitbart first started trying to poke hole in Dunham’s rape story, as trying to disprove rape allegations is what those turds do for fun, and in trying to track down the Book Rapist Barry, they quickly came upon Real Life Barry, as he was a prominent conservative on the otherwise liberal campus at the time Dunham attended Oberlin. I don’t think he wore cowboy boots or had a mustache, but the other similarities were enough to lead some to conclude they were the same person.
First, to be clear, I believe Lena Dunham when she says she was raped in college and I also totally get why she would change identifying details when telling the story in her book. What I don’t understand is the sloppiness with which these details were changed. Why was there no mention that Barry was a pseudonym? And shouldn’t extra caution have been taken when fudging the details, so that Book Rapist Barry couldn’t likely be mistaken for someone else, given the sensitive nature of the allegations? As we’ve seen with this whole Rolling Stone/UVA debacle, extra precautions need to be taken to protect survivor’s stories under scrutiny, because rape apologists and deniers will look for any inconsistencies to point to as proof that a victim is lying.
It turns out that Real Life Barry is being relatively chill about the whole thing, aside from just wanting to clear his name. In fact, from the get-go, Real Life Barry said on his GoFundMe page that any donated funds that didn’t go to his legal fees would be donated to an organization supporting rape and sexual assault victims. Now that Random House is paying his legal fees, all of that money will go to charity. So at least something good is coming out of this.