LOS ANGELES – The controversy over some passages in Lena Dunham’s new memoir “Not That Kind of Girl” has reached a new level following Dunham's legal threats against an online publication.
The “Girls” creator, 28, ignited a firestorm last week after an array of publications including Truth Revolt, the National Review and Daily Caller questioned some “very disturbing” excerpts in which Dunham describes bribing her younger sister Grace with “three pieces of candy if (she) could kiss her lips for five seconds.” Dunham then claims “anything a sexual predator might do to woo a small suburban girl I was trying.”
But the section that caused the most outrage was Dunham’s vivid recollection of how on one occasion – when she was seven and her sister was one – she set about prying open her sister’s vagina out of “curiosity,” observing that her mom didn’t question why because “this was within the spectrum of things (she) did.”
The website Truth Revolt then published an article under the headline: “Lena Dunham Describes Sexually Abusing Her Little Sister.” The site’s founder Ben Shapiro said he received a “cease and desist” letter from Dunham's lawyers demanding that the article be removed, along with a retraction that the “story was false,” under threat of legal action.
“We refuse to withdraw our story or apologize for running it, because quoting a woman’s book does not constitute a ‘false’ story,” Shapiro wrote in response. “For a woman who proclaims to be an advocate for freedom of speech to attempt to shut down such a speech based on her own apparent embarrassment at her own disclosures in her own book demonstrates the totalitarianism of those on the left – and those in the legal and media establishment who enable them.”
According to California-based attorney, Leo Terrell of CleartheCourt.com, Dunham has little chance of successful with a potential suit.
“Lena has zero chance of prevailing. Lena would be destroyed if deposed regarding the meaning of the passages at issues,” he explained. “This is nothing more than a ‘wolf’ letter from her attorneys.”
Dunham responded to the articles over Twitter on the weekend, calling them as “upsetting” and “disgusting.” Her rep did not respond to FOX 411’s request for further comment, but on Tuesday, Dunham released a statement to TIME, claiming that she is “dismayed” by the interpretation and that she wants to be “very clear that (she) does not condone any kind of abuse.”
“Childhood sexual abuse is a life-shattering event for so many, and I have been vocal about the rights of survivors. If the situations described in my book have been painful or triggering for people to read, I am sorry,” she wrote. “I am also aware that the comic use of the term ‘sexual predator’ was insensitive, and I’m sorry for that as well. As for my sibling Grace, she is my best friend and anything I have written about her has been published with her approval.”
Grace responded on Twitter: “heteronormativity deems certain behaviors harmful, and others ‘normal’; the state and media are always invested in maintaining that.”
Dunham has also received support.The website Jezebel emphasized her right to document the “stuff that happens between the ages of five and 10 that we forget, or forget to talk about.”
Dunham has canceled her book tours scheduled for Belgium and Germany, perhaps proving not all press is good press.
“Whenever you make a big deal about something – like legal action – then you run the risk of making it into an even bigger story,” PR maven Glen Selig of Selig Multimedia said. “By commenting in any way, you are in fact adding fuel to the fire. And you can’t fuel a fire if you want it to burn out.”
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WATCH: Four4Four: Did Lena Dunham go way too far?
Hollie McKay has been a FoxNews.com staff reporter since 2007. She has reported extensively from the Middle East on the rise and fall of terrorist groups such as ISIS in Iraq. Follow her on twitter at @holliesmckay