A tale of an encounter in a department store dressing room with a rich famous guy in which both man and woman had to keep silent for fear that the dozens of nearby department store workers, including security personnel, would hear. For folks who were born well before the Internet porn revolution, that would be the summary of a letter to Playboy or Penthouse Forum (and ultimately the subject of scholarly analysis).
What’s different this time? The New York Times is competing with Playboy and Penthouse and the female in the story is 76 years old (but might have been as young as 52 at the time, still two years over the age of eligibility of membership in AARP).
What are we to make of the media interest in this tale?
- the rape survivor interviewed by CNN
- NYT story about how they are sorry that they didn’t keep this story at the top of the front page for days (they were skeptical that it was Trump who raped the 52-year-old Carroll because it might have been future Justice Kavanaugh instead and there was confusion due to dim lighting?)
Update: This is the top story in New Yorker magazine’s daily email:
The dressing room encounter turns out to be related to the undocumented:
I imagined that undocumented families would be openly and cruelly persecuted in America, and that there would be plans of mass raids and internment, and that as this was happening I would not be rioting in the street as I ought to but depressively checking things off my Google Calendar to-do list and probably writing a blog post about a meme. What I didn’t imagine, though—and what actually occurred last week—is that a respected and well-known writer would accuse the President of raping her, and that I would be so sad and numb, after years of writing about Trump’s many accusers, after watching Brett Kavanaugh get confirmed to the Supreme Court in the face of credible sexual-assault allegations, that I would not even have the courage to read the story for days.
… public figure accusing the President of rape is news. Even though Carroll is at least the twenty-second woman to accuse Trump of sexual misconduct, she is only the second to accuse him of rape. (The first was Ivana Trump, who later downplayed her story.)
(not mentioned is that Ivana Trump was an alimony and child support plaintiff at the time and a failure to attempt to use the domestic violence parallel track in a U.S. family court is typically a sign of poor legal advice; Plaintiff Ivana “downplayed” the story once she got the cash she was seeking)
If the President had ever convincingly espoused ideas of respect for people who are not like him, or of equal rights for women, it’s possible that he would be held accountable for his actions. Instead, he promised mass campaigns of cruelty against undocumented immigrants, and he is delivering. He said that he grabbed women by the pussy, and many women—twenty-two, so far—explained that, yes, he did that, or something like it, to them. Carroll’s essay—exceptional, devastating, decades in the making—has made me consider how hard it is to understand right away that you’ve been exhausted into submission, especially when submission and endurance feel inextricable.
The writer seems very concerned about the undocumented, but has she offered any concrete assistance to them? A room in her Manhattan apartment?
[On Facebook today, I saw a non-Jew holding a placard reading “End Family Separation. End Detention Camps. The Jewish Community Says This is a Moral Emergency.” I had to restrain myself from responding with “But not such a serious emergency that any of the members of the Yale Jewish Community would offer to shelter a migrant in their own houses?”]