The President Raped Who? What's That? Oh Right Well ...
This morning, the New York Times released an interview on their The Daily podcast in which the two women E. Jean Carroll had told about her assault by Donald Trump identified themselves for the first time. Former news anchor Carol Martin and Lisa Birnbach, author of The Official Preppy Handbook, remembered clear as a bell both her telling them about the rape and their reactions.
Ms. Birnbach said she told Ms. Carroll to call the police, while Ms. Martin told Ms. Carroll not to talk about it because Mr. Trump was too powerful. Ultimately, Ms. Carroll, thinking she was partially to blame for the encounter, remained silent about it for decades.
"I said: Don't tell anybody. I wouldn't tell anybody this," Ms. Martin said.
Now, I don't know about you, but I sure as hell wouldn't be too eager to say I told a woman to not come forward about an obvious rape if I had never done any such thing. That's not necessarily something you'd want on your record.
This should obviously be bigger news. Instead, the bigger news coming from that podcast is that E. Jean Carroll does not like to refer to what happened to her as rape, even though it obviously is rape. That is what is being discussed over on Vox, and touted by the Daily Caller as some kind of evidence that Trump obviously did nothing wrong.
Carroll says she's entitled to her choice of words and that is fine and dandy and sure, we can discuss that, but also can we maybe not forget that THE MAN WHO ALLEGEDLY PUT HIS DICK INSIDE OF HER WITHOUT HER PERMISSION IS THE GODDAMN PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.
Isn't that the more important thing here? I don't care what word she wants to use. She can call it a "fight" as she prefers, she can call it "the Charleston," she can call it "stamp collecting," she can call it "the episode of Seinfeld where they're all stuck in a Chinese restaurant the whole time." If what she means by whatever she calls it is that he put his dick inside her without her permission, that's what the concern is and ought to be. Semantics be damned.
In the meantime, while we all have our Trump fatigue -- aka "he's gonna get away with it anyway" -- the Right is rallying to his side and indulging themselves in their usual onslaught of absurd conspiracy theories.
Trump is claiming that she's "not his type," which would make sense if rape had fuck all to do with a man being simply overcome by insatiable lust and unable to control himself or satisfy himself in any other way, which we know is not true.* It is a crime of power, often perpetrated against those the assailant thinks will be least likely to be believed or least likely to tell. This is why the children, the elderly and the developmentally disabled are often most at risk of sexual abuse.
*Also she looked exactly damn like his wife at the time, COME ON.
Radio host Chris Plante went on Tucker Carlson to share his theory that Carroll is just coming out with this story in order to sell books. You know, because at 75 she's suddenly decided to go all out on a get-rich-quick scheme involving ... selling books. As such schemes go, this is not a very good one! Not only do very few people get rich off the sales of one book that is neither a diet book nor a self help book these days, but she would also have to have been highly aware of the fact that coming forward in this way would lead to a whole lot of shit being slung her way and to having her entire life completely dissected by Trump goons. Which she was aware of! She wrote all about it!
Donald Trump Jr. has taken to repeating a bizarre conspiracy theory that Carroll actually ripped her story from SVU, because some QAnon idiot on Twitter found an old Law and Order: SVU episode in which a man describes fulfilling rape fantasies in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room.
That would be quite the story, if not for the fact that the episode aired in 2012, decades after Carroll told Martin and Birnbach about the assault. Also, given that SVU has been on the air for 20 years now, it would almost be more difficult at this point to find a rape case that had nothing at all in common with any episode of the show. What's next? Are they going to say that all rapes occurring in New York City are just SVU-related fabrications, because the show takes place there?
Also, Donald Trump Jr., your own mother accused your father of violently raping her, under oath. How's that for credible?
From disingenuously parsing her words and actions for "clues" meant to prove that what she says is not true or that she is bad at being a victim to straight up making shit up, the Right is taking over the show here, trying to remake her story into one that looks good for Trump. They want to shut her up and make it harder for the next victim to come forward. Even if we don't think that this story will have any ill effect on people voting for him, we can't just let them win this one. So we've gotta keep talking about it, we've gotta keep it in the news, and we can't let it just slip away, never to be brought up again. That's how they win.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Previously, she was a Senior Staff Writer at Death & Taxes, and Assistant Editor at The Frisky (RIP). Currently, she writes for Wonkette, Friendly Atheist, Quartz and other sites. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse