In her newly published collection of personal essays, Not That Kind of Girl, Lena Dunham describes experimenting sexually with her younger sister Grace, whom she says she attempted to persuade to kiss her using “anything a sexual predator might do.” In one particularly unsettling passage, Dunham, seventeen at the time, experimented with her one-year-old sister’s vagina. “This was within the spectrum of things I did,” she writes.
In the collection of nonfiction personal accounts, Dunham describes using her much younger sister at times essentially as a sexual outlet, bribing her to kiss her for prolonged periods and even masturbating with her in the bed beside her. But perhaps the most disturbing is an account she gives of an episode that occurred when she was seventeen and her sister was one. Here’s the full passage (p. 158-9):
“Do we all have uteruses?” I asked my mother when I was seventeen.
“Yes,” she told me. “We’re born with them, and with all our eggs, but they start out very small. And they aren’t ready to make babies until we’re older.” I look at my sister, now a slim, tough one-year-old, and at her tiny belly. I imagined her eggs inside her, like the sack of spider eggs in Charlotte’s Webb, and her uterus, the size of a thimble.
“Does her vagina look like mine?”
“I guess so,” my mother said. “Just smaller.”
One day, as I sat in our driveway in Long Island playing with blocks and buckets, my curiosity got the best of me. Grace was sitting up, babbling and smiling, and I leaned down between her legs and carefully spread open her vagina. She didn’t resist and when I saw what was inside I shrieked.
My mother came running. “Mama, Mama! Grace has something in there!”
My mother didn’t bother asking why I had opened Grace’s vagina. This was within the spectrum of things I did. She just on her knees and looked for herself. It quickly became apparent that Grace had stuffed six or seven pebbles in there. My mother removed them patiently while Grace cackled, thrilled that her prank had been a success.
Dunham describes the book as a “work of nonfiction” in which “some names and identifying details have been changed.” She also states that she considers herself an “unreliable narrator,” which gives her some wiggle room on the truth of her accounts. As National Review's Kevin D. Williamson notes, this passage is “especially suspicious.” Clearly Grace’s prank is done with the expectation of her older sister “poking around in her genitals. … There is no non-horrific interpretation of this episode.”