Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Gawker Names Lena Dunham's Rapist--And He's a Democrat

Lena Dunham's memoir, Not That Kind of Girl, includes the classic date rape story--she had sex with some guy, giving in to his advances, then decided later that she wasn't really too thrilled with the sex, and eventually decided that it was rape. However, not content with that, she added details to describe the man as a flamboyantly dressed Republican named Barry, with mustache and purple boots, the son of a radio show host, and someone that had hosted a radio program at her university. She makes a point that she had not met a Republican before him, and that he was a Republican.

Some of the details, but not all, pointed to an actual Republican who had never met Dunham. Her story was shown to be a false narrative. Now, attempting to rescue Dunham's account, and the narrative of out-of-control campus rape, Gawker reports that the specific details were changed to protect the identity of the actual person, but that Gawker has figured out who he was from earlier drafts of Dunham's book that had been circulated. Turns out that the man was, according to Gawker:
... Philip Samuel Ungar, a 2006 graduate of Oberlin. Now 30, he’s the son of former All Things Considered host and retired Goucher College president Sanford J. Ungar. Dunham has never explicitly named him, but his biography closely aligns with her characterization of her alleged rapist—“His father was actually the former host of NPR’s All Things Considered”—in an early draft of the chapter where she describes being assaulted.
Oh, and he is a registered Democrat.

The Gawker article downplays the latter part, but I think it is actually a key issue. Dunham's book made a point of emphasizing "Barry" as being Republican. His politics was not a passing detail, but a central point intended to demonize conservatives. This incident was portrayed as her first exposure to someone from a conservative background. And now, we are told that the actual person who Dunham alleges raped her was a liberal Democrat. In retrospect, it almost seems inevitable that if there was an actual "bad person" in her story, it would be a liberal, and so it was.

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