Not That Kind of Girl

Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She's "Learned" is a 2014 memoir written by Lena Dunham.[2][3] The book, a collection of autobiographical essays, lists, and emails,[4] was released in hardcover by Random House on September 30, 2014, and in paperback on October 20, 2015.[5]

Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She's "Learned"
Not That Kind of Girl - Cover.jpg
AuthorLena Dunham
CountryUnited States
GenreMemoir, autobiography
PublishedSeptember 30, 2014
PublisherRandom House

Publication historyEdit

Random House purchased the rights to the essay collection in October 2012 after a bidding war generated by Dunham's 66-page book proposal. Bidding was reported to have risen past $3.5 million.[6] Not That Kind of Girl was published September 30, 2014. The book is dedicated to Nora Ephron.[7]


Not That Kind of Girl received mixed reviews but was a commercial success, reaching #2 on The New York Times Best Seller list on October 19, 2014.[8]

Sloane Crosley for The New York Times said the book was often hilarious but not ground-breaking in content. Crosley cautioned that attempts to view Dunham as a bellwether of modern feminism would unfairly overshadow the author.[9] Hadley Freeman, in a review for The Guardian, described Dunham as being a smart and talented writer, and the book as being brutally honest, but also narcissistic and thin in experience.[10] In The New Republic, James Wolcott found the book filled with "chatty punch lines, airy anecdotage, and sour kiss-offs" and, ultimately, "callow, grating, and glibly nattering."[11]

Heidi Stevens of PopMatters wrote, "But the book, as a whole, is a lovely, touching, surprisingly sentimental portrait of a woman who, despite repeatedly baring her body and soul to audiences, remains a bit of an enigma: a young woman who sets the agenda, defies classification and seems utterly at home in her own skin."[12] Leah Greenblatt of Entertainment Weekly gave the book a "B+" and that it was "guided mostly by a Woody-Allen-with-a-uterus kind of whimsy."[13]


Sexual abuseEdit

In November 2014, Dunham and the book became a subject of controversy[14] following a profile of Dunham by Kevin D. Williamson published in National Review. In her book, Dunham describes examining her sister Grace's genitals when they were children out of curiosity, bribing her with candy for kisses and casually masturbating while lying in bed next to her. Williamson characterizes this as sexual abuse,[15] but Lena, Grace, and child psychologists, sexual abuse experts, and researchers in human sexuality reject the notion.[16][17][18]

In an interview about the controversy in Slate magazine's XX Factor blog, developmental psychologist Ritch Savin-Williams says that the cited passages do not indicate abuse and that "Children have been doing this stuff forever and ever and ever and ever, and they will do it forever and ever and ever."[16] Child sexual abuse expert David Finkelhor said that a judgement requires more than a single incident, and psychologist Sharon Lamb opined that the incidents described in the book were "within the norms of childhood sexual behavior" and that "It wouldn’t be sex offender wrong, it would be inappropriate..."[19]

Dunham later apologized for some of the wording in the book, specifically the joking use of the term 'sexual predator', which she described as insensitive.[20][21]

Legal issuesEdit

In December 2014, Breitbart News investigated Dunham's claim that Dunham was at a party, "alone, drunk and high on Xanax and cocaine" and was sexually assaulted by a leading member of the Oberlin College Republicans, whom she called "Barry". Breitbart found a politically conservative alumnus of Oberlin with the forename Barry, later known as "Barry One", who had attended the school at the same time as Dunham but denied he was the man described by her. Breitbart later raised further doubts that the incident between "Barry One" and Dunham had even occurred. Oberlin College publicly distanced themselves from the issue.[22]

The alumnus ("Barry One") subsequently set up a legal fund online to pursue legal action against Dunham and her publisher.[23] "Barry One"'s counsel stated that 'Despite multiple requests ... Dunham has not issued any sort of statement clearing Barry's name and clarifying the confusion that is happening.'"[24]

On December 9, 2014, Random House issued a statement claiming Dunham had related that "Barry" was a pseudonym and had no connection to the Oberlin alumnus with the same first name. The pseudonym was to be removed from all further editions of the book.[25]


  1. ^ Kakutani, Michiko (September 23, 2014). "Hannah's Self-Aware Alter Ego Lena Dunham's Memoir-ish 'Not That Kind of Girl'". The New York Times.
  2. ^ Daum, Meghan (September 10, 2014). "Lena Dunham Is Not Done Confessing". The New York Times Magazine. Retrieved November 7, 2014.
  3. ^ Dunham, Lena (2014). Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She's "Learned". Random House. ISBN 978-0812994995.
  4. ^ Gross, Terry (September 29, 2014). "Lena Dunham On Sex, Oversharing And Writing About Lost 'Girls'". Fresh Air. NPR. Retrieved March 5, 2016.
  5. ^ "Not That Kind of Girl". Random House. Retrieved May 1, 2016.
  6. ^ Bosman, Julie (October 8, 2012). "Lena Dunham Signs Book Deal for More Than $3.5 Million". The New York Times. Retrieved November 7, 2014.
  7. ^ Dry, Rachel (September 24, 2014). "Review: 'Not That Kind of Girl'". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 7, 2014.
  8. ^ "COMBINED PRINT & E-BOOK NONFICTION". The New York Times. October 19, 2014. Retrieved November 7, 2014.
  9. ^ Crosley, Sloane (October 9, 2014). "A Voice of a Generation". The New York Times. Retrieved November 7, 2014.
  10. ^ Freeman, Hadley (September 30, 2014). "Not That Kind of Girl review – Lena Dunham exposes all, again". The Guardian. Retrieved November 7, 2014.
  11. ^
  12. ^ Stevens, Heidi (October 1, 2014). "Lena Dunham's 'Not That Kind of Girl' Packed With Witty Anecdotes, Honesty". PopMatters.
  13. ^ Greenblatt, Leah (October 10, 2014). "Not That Kind of Girl (2014)". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved November 7, 2014.
  14. ^ McDonald, Soraya Nadia (November 3, 2014). "Lena Dunham responds to sites accusing her of sexually abusing her sister". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 8, 2014.
  15. ^ Williamson, Kevin D. "Pathetic Privilege" (November 3, 2014). Retrieved November 12, 2014.
  16. ^ a b Moyer, Kevin D. "Sexual Abuse Allegations" (November 4, 2014). Retrieved February 10, 2014.
  17. ^ Oldenburg, Ann (November 6, 2014). "Lena Dunham: Sexual abuse or sexual exploration?". USA Today. Retrieved February 13, 2015.
  18. ^ Caffaro, John (November 6, 2014). "Sibling sexual assault is epidemic. No wonder Lena Dunham caused an uproar". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 16, 2015.
  19. ^ Clark-Flory, Tracy. "Child therapists: Stop freaking out about Lena Dunham". Salon (November 4, 2014). Retrieved November 7, 2014.
  20. ^ D'Zurilla, Christine (November 4, 2014). "Lena Dunham apologizes for her 'comic use' of 'sexual predator'". Los Angeles Times.
  21. ^ Rothman, Michael (November 4, 2014). "Lena Dunham Apologizes for 'Sexual Predator' Section in Her Book". Good Morning America. ABC News. Retrieved November 7, 2014.
  22. ^ Volokh, Eugene (December 4, 2014). "Could 'Barry' sue Lena Dunham over her memoirs?". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 9, 2015.
  23. ^ Chasmar, Jessica (December 7, 2014). "Lena Dunham: 'Barry One' starts legal fund to fight actress' rape claim". The Washington Times. Retrieved February 9, 2015.
  24. ^ "Barry One" starts legal fund to fight Lena Dunham claims", The Washington Times. Retrieved February 9, 2015.
  25. ^ Dwyer, Colin (December 9, 2014). "Book News: Random House Promises Changes To Lena Dunham Book". NPR. Retrieved February 9, 2015.