Wednesday, June 26, 2019

"Not My Type"

President Trump has, yet again, been accused of sexual assault in his past.

E. Jean Carroll, a New York-based writer and longtime women’s advice columnist, accused President Trump of sexually assaulting her more than two decades ago in a dressing room of an upscale Manhattan department store.  The encounter was revealed in an excerpt of a book published Friday, June 21, 2019.  In an interview with The Washington Post on that afternoon, Carroll reiterated the allegations, saying that Trump attacked her in her dressing room at Bergdorf Goodman in late 1995 or early 1996.  She described the attack in great detail.  

She chose to reveal her story now, hoping that it “will empower women to come forward and not feel bad … I blamed myself and I was silent and I felt guilty.  I beat up myself terrible.”  Carroll is one of 16 women who have publicly accused Trump of sexual misconduct over the pasta several decades.  Most spoke out just weeks before the 2016 election after the revelation of the infamous Access Hollywood tape.

Trump for his part has of course denied the allegations, dubbing them fake news; that Carroll was “totally lying.”  “I’ll say it with great respect: Number one, she’s not my type.  Number two, it never happened.  It never happened, OK?"

There's something very telling that Trump's first dodge is to say "she's not my type."  It’s a downplaying of the crime.  It deflects by tying sexual assault to more traditional sexual relations.  The misconception that sexual assault happens because someone gets carried away by their sexual desires and/or hormones and loses control.  That the person is so captivated by attraction to the other person that they just have to have them.

While sex is undoubtedly part of sexual assault, such attraction is rarely a component part of the assault.  Sexual assault is first and foremost violence.  It’s a violent attack.  An attack based on power and control, happening because perpetrators put their desires over the other person’s.  

This is an important distinction.  Framing sexualized violence as about sex and not about violence puts the focus on the perpetrator’s narrative and not the survivor’s.  Focusing on the perpetrator’s narrative leads society to blame the victim or not hold the perpetrator accountable for their actions.  Or to be able to deny anything ever happened because the perpetrator could not possibly be attracted to the victim - to believe the perpetrator over the victim.  A part of the continued narcissism of the perpetrator that they are not the problem.  

The GOP for their part has decided to stand by Trump, choosing to believe him over Ms. Carroll.  All I would say: We live in an environment where people can come forward.  That’s good.  But allegations like this have to be cautiously reviewed,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham with a slight eye roll.  Trump was “firm.  Unequivocal.  I have no reason not to” believe him.  

Were this one accusation against Trump, it would be one thing.  But it's part of a series of accusations against him, including one from his former wife, Ivana.  Part of the televised bragging of sexual assault as a come on technique in the Access Hollywood tape.  

The pattern of a man who thinks he can takes what he wants.

At what point do the numbers tip the scales?  At what point do the number of victims give us pause?  Do they reveal a pattern of misconduct?  Paint the picture of a serial assaulter?   At what point do his own words trap him?

Every time you think we've hit bottom, we just keep digging further down.  

How much more is going to happen over the next year and a half?

Do I really want to know the answer to that question?

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