A writer for Lena Dunham's feminist newsletter has quit after the actress publicly defended a former Girls writer who has been accused of sexual assault

By Stephanie Petit
November 20, 2017 11:22 AM
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A writer for Lena Dunham‘s feminist newsletter has quit after the actress publicly defended a former Girls writer who has been accused of sexual assault.

In a post shared on social media Saturday, writer Zinzi Clemmons announced that she can no longer write for Lenny Letter. In addition to citing Dunham’s response to actress Aurora Perrineau’s claim that Murray Miller sexually assaulted her in 2012 when she was only 17, Clemmons further accused the actress of being racist.

“[Lena] and I ran in the same circles in college,” Clemmons wrote. “[Girls star] Jemima Kirke was in my year at RISD while I was at Brown. We had many mutual acquaintances and still do. Most of these acquaintances were like Lena — wealthy, with parents who are influential in the art world. They had a lot of power and seemed to get off on simultaneously wielding it and denying it.”

She continued, “Back in college, I avoided those people like the plague because of their well-known racism. I’d call their strain ‘hipster racism,’ which typically uses sarcasm as a cover, and in the end, it looks a lot like gaslighting — ‘It’s just a joke. Why are you overreacting?’ Is a common response to these kinds of statements.”

“In Lena’s circle, there was a girl who was known to use the N-word in conversation in order to be provocative, and if she was ever called on it, she would say ‘it’s just a joke.’ I was often in the same room with her, but I never spoke to her, only watched her from afar in anxiety and horror.”

On Twitter, Clemmons urged “women of color—black women in particular—to divest from Lena Dunham.”

In her statement, she said that she was willing to “sacrifice some comfort and a little bit of cash” in order to “hold Lena accountable.”

Dunham’s rep did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment on Clemmons’ claims.

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Credit: Jim Spellman/WireImage

After Perrineau accused Miller of allegedly sexually assaulting her as a teen, Dunham and Girls co-creator Jenni Konner issued a statement voicing their support of the writer and insinuating that his accuser “misreported” her alleged rape.

“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% of assault cases that are misreported every year,” the pair said at the time. “It is a true shame to add to that number, as outside of Hollywood women still struggle to be believed. We stand by Murray and this is all we’ll be saying about this issue.”

Dunham later issued an apology after she came under intense scrutiny online.

“As feminists, we live and die by our politics, and believing women is the first choice we make every single day when we wake up,” Dunham wrote on Twitter. “Therefore I never thought I would issue a statement publically supporting someone accused of sexual assault but I naively believed it was important to share my perspective on my friend’s situation as it has transpired behind the scenes over the last few months.

She said, “I now understand that it was absolutely the wrong time to come forward with such a statement and I am so sorry. We have been given the gift of powerful voices and by speaking out we were putting our thumb on the scale and it was wrong. We regret this decision with every fiber to our being.”

Dunham continued, ““Every woman who comes forward deserves to be heard, fully and completely, and our relationship to the accused should not be part of the calculation anyone makes when examining her case.”

“Every person and every feminist should be required to hear her. Under patriarchy, ‘I believe you’ is essential. Until we are all believed, none of us will be believed. We apologize to any woman who have been disappointed.”