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Image / Editorial

Lena Dunham Compares Reading About Herself Online To Domestic Abuse, Apologises


by Jeanne Sutton
30th Sep 2015
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The internet can be great. You can order pizza from it. Marvel, on a loop, at the fact NASA let One Direction shoot a video at their HQ. However, sometimes the internet can be The Worst. Especially when the online harassment of women enters the equation. Even Gigi Hadid has had to address trolls in recent days. Sexist comments and even threats of violence follow women who dare to stick their Twitter handles above the parapet. Last year Gamergate, a concentrated campaign by internet users to silence and shame women working in the gaming industry, saw developers and bloggers having to move homes because of rape and death threats.

Lena Dunham is the latest high-profile woman to talk about how the internet’s potential can quickly become a cesspit for those with a public profile. The Girls creator and now publisher, her ezine Lenny Letter launched yesterday, was speaking to Kara Swisher on the Re/code Decode podcast when she revealed that so intense was the negativity she no longer physically tweets, and has someone else send out messages for her. She compared all the social media attention to something ?cancerous?.

lena dunham

?I didn’t want to cut off my relationship to it completely, but it really, truly wasn’t a safe space for me,” Lena confessed, alluding to the fact she is often targeted with critical comments. In one memorable internet chapter, her weight was mercilessly attacked following an episode of Girls that saw her character topless for extended scenes.

The relentless abuse was too much. “Even if you think, like, ‘Oh I can read, like, ten mentions that say I should be stoned to death’ and kind of, like, laugh and move on, that’s verbal abuse,” the actress said.

Another aspect of the internet that Lena has given up is the media company Gawker, who also publishes Jezebel, the women’s website that posted a bounty for her unretouched Vogue editorial. In a rather bittersweet sidenote, Lena said used to’read the sites in college – ?I used to read Gawker and Jezebel in college and be like, ‘I can’t wait to get to New York where my people will be to welcome me’? – but that now ?it’s literally if I read it it’s like going back to a husband who beat me in the face – it just doesn’t make any sense.?

lena-dunham-vogue1
As soon as the comments comparing reading a website to domestic violence went wildfire online, Lena posted an apology to her Instagram, saying:

?In a recent interview I compared reading certain websites that have repeatedly insulted me to returning to a physically abusive husband again and again. When I heard my own quote I was like “Jesus, Lena, no.” I wasn’t making a joke about domestic violence–I was over emphatic in my attempt to capture how damaging the Internet can be (not just to celebrities.) When I first discovered the world wide web as a teenager it felt like salvation. I’ve met a lot of my best friends there. It’s allowed for so much magic. But it also makes room for so much hate and a new kind of violence. I’m not the first to say it. I shan’t be the last. But I regret that earlier comparison because it doesn’t accurately describe the condition of being attacked online AND it appears to make light of domestic violence, which ain’t my style.?

Here’s the post in its entirety.

In a recent interview I compared reading certain websites that have repeatedly insulted me to returning to a physically abusive husband again and again. When I heard my own quote I was like “Jesus, Lena, no.” I wasn’t making a joke about domestic violence–I was over emphatic in my attempt to capture how damaging the Internet can be (not just to celebrities.) When I first discovered the world wide web as a teenager it felt like salvation. I’ve met a lot of my best friends there. It’s allowed for so much magic. But it also makes room for so much hate and a new kind of violence. I’m not the first to say it. I shan’t be the last. But I regret that earlier comparison because it doesn’t accurately describe the condition of being attacked online AND it appears to make light of domestic violence, which ain’t my style. Sleep tight and thank you for the @lennyletter love today.

A photo posted by Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) on

Via recode.net
http://recode.net/podcasts/extended-interview-lenny-newsletter-co-founders-lena-dunham-and-jenni-konner/

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