“This may be the first time four white women can accurately represent anything,” says Lena Dunham.
What these four women–Dunham, Jemima Kirke, Allison Williams, Zosia Mamet, otherwise known as the four leads in HBO’s Girls–are accurately representing is full-fledged support for victims of rape. The four actresses stood together in a minimalist PSA video regarding sexual assault, made in direct response to the Stanford rape controversy, Variety reports.
The details of the situation, for those who have ignored the news and the countless Facebook opinion posts, are this: in early 2015, a young woman who will remain nameless (though, of course, her name is out there) was raped while unconscious by Brock Turner, who happened to be a swimmer for his school (not that said information particularly correlates to the crime). This week, a judge convicted Turner for the sexual assault but gave him only six months of county jail time, three months with good behavior. A large public outcry immediately followed, suggesting that Turner received an unfairly easy sentence due to the fact that he is a successful athlete and demanding re-sentencing (the prosecutor asked for six years).
Therefore, given the widespread public response from Twitter rants to petitions to re-sentence, the Girls‘s cast’s video came as no surprise. The show has always been celebrated from its start for being unabashed about portraying real women, showing details about their lives that might seem unflattering to the viewer that’s used to cookie-cutter female characters that look perfect, have only love troubles and not life troubles, and don’t deal with real issues.
In the video, the four actresses stand barefoot and speak solemnly to the camera.
Don’t avoid the hard conversation,” Williams, who plays Marnie Michaels in Girls, said. “You already have the power to create a safer, healthier environment for women to come forward.”
Mamet, who plays Shoshanna, offered the grim statistics for her fellow woman, pointing out that one in five women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime, a number that she wants the world to know is completely unacceptable through her somber, cold stare.
“Why is it our default reaction as a society to disbelieve?” demands Mamet.
“Or silence?” asks Dunham.
“Or shame,” says Kirke.
These three actions the four women describe aren’t based on generalizations either; the victim of the Stanford case wrote a letter this week that snatched national attention as she detailed the tribulations she endured while on the stand in trial.
“I was pummeled with narrowed, pointed questions that dissected my personal life, love life, past life, family life,” wrote the victim, “inane questions, accumulating trivial details to try and find an excuse for this guy who had me half naked before even bothering to ask for my name.”
The four called for unity in this issue, as they have, to protect the girls who aren’t receiving the help they need from the courtroom. Instead, the women asked viewers to give even the slightest aid to victims, like a phone call or a ride to therapy.
You can watch the full video below or through Lena Dunham’s Twitter account.
I dedicate this to the brave survivor in the Stanford case who has given so much to change the conversation. https://t.co/KMOJUxvPu0
— Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) June 8, 2016