“Believe all women” has been the activist left’s cri de coeur for some time now. Especially on issues pertaining to sexual harassment and assault, society is apparently supposed to judge a person’s statements as true or false based purely on the chromosomes carried in that person’s DNA. Lena Dunham’s latest article, an apology—if you can call it that—penned in the Hollywood Reporter, should be the final nail in the coffin of this insipid phrase, coined to bolster an even more insipid ideology.
After “Girls” writer Murray Miller was accused of sexually assaulting the actress Aurora Perrineau last year, Dunham issued a statement coming to his defense. Some of her initial words were refreshing, and injected a much-needed dose of nuance into the broader conversation gripping the country.
During times of change, she noted, “there are also incidences of the culture, in its enthusiasm and zeal, taking down the wrong targets.” Dunham explained that “we believe, having worked closely with him for more than half a decade, that this is the case with Murray Miller.”
That would have all been well and fine, except that Dunham went on to say: “while our first instinct is to listen to every woman’s story, our insider knowledge of Murray’s situation makes us confident that sadly this accusation is one of the 3 percent of assault cases that are misreported every year.”
Dunham could have used the situation — and her platform — as an opportunity to defend the reputation of a friend she believed was innocent, while simultaneously exposing the inherent dangers lurking behind an ideology that demands its adherents blindly believe the word of one half the population over the other. Instead, she played directly into it by admitting that her instinct was to believe all women.
Dunham could have argued that, rather than being an exception to the rule, Miller — whom she then thought was innocent — actually proved the inanity of the rule. That rule, of course, is that women are always telling the truth.
In a stunning twist of irony, Dunham is now apologizing for lying about having any “insider knowledge” in the Miller situation. “I didn’t have the ‘insider information’ I claimed,” she now admits, “but rather a blind faith in a story that kept slipping and changing and revealed itself to mean nothing at all.”
As a child, I learned a valuable lesson from my parents and siblings: apologies don’t include the word “but.” Also absent from a proper apology: excuses. This lesson seems to have been lost on Dunham, and on this current generation of feminists more broadly.
Blaming everything, including our own challenges, and our own grave errors in judgement, on the tyrannical patriarchy will not yield a better world for women. In fact, all such tactics do is reinforce the idea that women have no agency of our own, and are incapable of taking responsibility for our actions.
Yet instead of issuing a proper mea culpa for lying about information she didn’t have, Dunham claims that she had “internalized the dominant male agenda that asks us to defend it no matter what, protect it no matter what, baby it no matter what.”
In the long run, “believe all women” will not do anything to better the lives and societal positions of women and girls living around the world. Women, like men, lie on occasion. Maybe this disturbing example — which illustrates how women, like men, have the capacity to say things that might actually be detrimental to the cause of assault victims — will finally convince the left that this strategy is both immoral and untenable.