Screengrab via Lena Dunham/Twitter

Lena Dunham dedicates sexual assault PSA to Stanford rape survivor

'To the brave survivor in the Stanford case.'


Christine Friar


Posted on Jun 8, 2016   Updated on May 26, 2021, 3:42 pm CDT

Lena Dunham and the cast of Girls have taken a stand against sexual violence by releasing a public service announcement, and Dunham dedicated it to the Stanford University assault survivor Wednesday. 

A California jury found swimming star Brock Allen Turner guilty of three felony charges of sexual assault this March, but last week a judge sentenced him to a mere six months of jail time and probation. In a statement she read aloud to Turner at the sentencing, the survivor outlined why she thought the ruling was too lenient and condemned a culture that prevents boys from ever being held accountable for this type of crime. BuzzFeed subsequently published her statements and the case has dominated social media.

So when Dunham tweeted the PSA (which also stars Allison Williams, Zosia Mamet, and Jemima Kirke), she included a shoutout to the survivor.

The ad also takes on the work of criticizing the popular empathy exercise well-meaning people often employ during cases like this: “What would you do if she were your mother? Your sister?” Dunham’s ad makes the nuanced point that that path of logic omits the survivor’s own personhood. It sidebars the fact that no person—any person—deserves to be sexually assaulted, regardless of what their utility is to other people. 

According to Dunham and her co-stars, even if a woman is not someone’s mother, sister, or teacher, “she is someone.” And in a cultural environment where things like the Turner ruling are still commonplace, it’s an important distinction to make. 

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*First Published: Jun 8, 2016, 3:00 pm CDT