Monday, July 01, 2019

She Is Not My Type. The Recent Sexual Assault Allegation Against Donald Trump.

"She is not my type."  That's partly how Donald Trump responded to the allegations that he had sexually assaulted Jean E. Carroll, long an advice columnist for Elle magazine, in a Bergdorf & Goodman dressing-room twenty-three years ago.

These allegations appeared in print at the Cut which published a short excerpt from Carroll's forthcoming book.  Here's the central bit:

The moment the dressing-room door is closed, he lunges at me, pushes me against the wall, hitting my head quite badly, and puts his mouth against my lips. I am so shocked I shove him back and start laughing again. He seizes both my arms and pushes me up against the wall a second time, and, as I become aware of how large he is, he holds me against the wall with his shoulder and jams his hand under my coat dress and pulls down my tights.
I am astonished by what I’m about to write: I keep laughing. The next moment, still wearing correct business attire, shirt, tie, suit jacket, overcoat, he opens the overcoat, unzips his pants, and, forcing his fingers around my private area, thrusts his penis halfway — or completely, I’m not certain — inside me. It turns into a colossal struggle. I am wearing a pair of sturdy black patent-leather four-inch Barneys high heels, which puts my height around six-one, and I try to stomp his foot. I try to push him off with my one free hand — for some reason, I keep holding my purse with the other — and I finally get a knee up high enough to push him out and off and I turn, open the door, and run out of the dressing room.

Carroll wrote that she told two women about the event at the time, and two women have come forward to verify that. Trump's response was that Carroll is "totally lying" and that "she is not his type."

I find it hard to get over the idea that "she is not my type" would be a defense against sexual assault allegations.  Indeed, I can't get my head around that.  I wonder what his type for sexual assault purposes might be...

The longer the Trump era continues, the more I feel like Alice in Wonderland: (1)

"Alice laughed: "There's no use trying," she said; "one can't believe impossible things."
"I daresay you haven't had much practice," said the Queen. "When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast." 

We have now had plenty of practice in hearing as many as six impossibly outrageous things Trump has done, often before breakfast, and then just not talking about them, because the next impossibly outrageous things will take place before lunch and the weirdness overflow is unbearable.

We  have also grown inured to Trump's atrocities, despite desperately trying not to.  They are the new-normal in a president.  Another rape allegation?  Yawn.  Obstruction of justice by the president? What can you do?  Another yawn.

And so it goes.

But this is the Alice quote (from Through The Looking Glass) which really describes this moment:

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less."
"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."
"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master - that's all."

Bolds are mine (2).

And it's that bolded sentence which best explains the very muted attention this recent sexual assault allegation against Trump has received: 

What's the point?  Trump is in power and won't be dislodged.

Those who voted for Trump already knew that he was going to grab any pussy that didn't run away screaming its clitoris off, and they didn't care.  Instead, the country got Trump as the Supreme Leader and Brett Kavanaugh in the Supreme Court.  Never mind the #MeToo movement which probably went too far in any case.  He said she said, you know.

So yes, the crickets we hear about this case are largely due to that great outrage fatigue everyone, including the press, probably feels right now.

The world is overheating, dictators are rearing their ugly heads everywhere, the US southern border is a hell zone,  and we should care about a twenty-three-year old rape accusation?  Get your priorities right, goddess.

Besides, if the Mueller report didn't stop Trump, this certainly won't.  He is still the master of all, though whether that's because of Putin and whether Putin is his ultimate master remains unclear.

But I also wonder if something possibly slightly more ominous can explain the spotted attention Carroll's claim has received:

It fits into the wider global trend toward right-wing and theocratic dictatorships and nationalism, how those dictators talk about women's roles and rights, and how little pushback they get for sexist comments.

That trend includes the desire to cancel feminist gains, a general emphasis on women's child-bearing roles at the expense of their participation in public life, an attempt to make the society return to stricter and more rigid (more "essentialist") gender roles and norms,  and a general re-shuffling of societal power away from women, as a class, and toward those men (such as Donald Trump) who stand high on the societal power ladders. 

In the past the powers such men held implicitly included the right to grab almost any pussy they wanted, just as Trump was overheard saying before the elections. 

But he was wrong about the reason for that "right":  It wasn't that the owners of those grabbed pussies were so impressed by his star-power.  Rather, it was the bad consequences for them from coming forward and accusing a powerful man of sexual assault, and the likelihood that there would be no real consequences for him. 

I fervently hope that the way Trump gets away with this shit is just an anomaly and not a sign of that global trend becoming stronger.

(1)   I just realized that I used Lewis Carroll quotes to inform a blog post about Jean E. Carroll.  Now explain that.

(2)   As an aside, a lot of the political debate on Twitter seems to be about that bolded sentence.  Facts are irrelevant and understanding them better is a waste of time which could be used to gain more power by shouting other people down.