By David Futrelle
Trump’s fans have a new woman to hate. Yesterday, New York magazine published a lengthy story by author and advice columnist E. Jean Carroll detailing a lifetime of run-ins with what she called her “Hideous Men” — the most famous one on her list being our current president, whom Carroll says assaulted, then raped her, in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room some two decades ago.
Though Carroll tells her stories with many darkly funny asides — she’s a humor writer who once won an Emmy for her work on Saturday Night Live — her account of the alleged rape is harrowing and very believable. She ends the story with an astonishing confession: she has not had sex a single time since her alleged encounter with Trump.
Naturally, Trump has denied the allegations, falsely asserting that he’d never even met Carroll (there’s a photo of the two together in Carroll’s piece).
But Trump’s fans seem less outraged by Carroll’s supposedly false allegations than gleeful at the chance to go after another “nasty woman,” as Trump likes to call any prominent woman who isn’t a fan of his. As the indomitable Talia Lavin noted on Twitter yesterday, “there are people among the president’s supporters who revel in his rape and cruelty to women.” And for them, Carroll’s accusations are simply another excuse for an orgy of their own cruelty.
Some of them are going after Carroll directly, responding to old tweets of hers with all the viciousness they can muster, many of their, er, arguments based on the premise that Carroll, a winner of numerous beauty pageants in her younger years, is and was simply too hideous to rape.
Others made it plain that this new controversy is simply fodder for their larger goal of “owning the libs” and hopefully making them cry.
On Reddit’s ongoing Trump love-fest known as The Donald, the regulars have already launched (at last count) 30 separate threads on Carroll and her accusations, with several devoted entirely to the proposition that she’s too old and ugly to rape (she’s roughly the same age as Trump) and one to spreading a meme suggesting that Carroll is too tacky to shop at Bergdorf.
“Considering that Trump was dating hot ass Marla Maples at the time, this is bullshit,” one Donald-loving Redditor declared.
Did your see how absolutely fucking ugly the accuser is? Im pretty sure even bill Clinton wouldn’t of fucked her.
Others pushed the same, er, argument.
“Stormy Daniels I could maybe see him having an affair with,” one wrote. “This thing? He’s not blind and he doesn’t drink or do drugs.”
Still another added:
Funny how it’s always the pigs that like to bring this stuff up, and not the literal supermodels Trump spent years working with.
The cruelty shown towards Carroll is hardly surprising, coming from Trump fans, as this sort of bullying is basically the essence of Trump’s brand. As Atlantic writer Adam Serwer argued in a widely cited piece, for Trump and his fans, “the cruelty is the point.”
Or current president’s “only real, authentic pleasure,” Serwer noted,
is in cruelty. It is that cruelty, and the delight it brings them, that binds his most ardent supporters to him, in shared scorn for those they hate and fear.
This cruelty comes out most obviously in Trump’s malevolent policies towards immigrants. But he’s just as much of a bully when it comes to mocking the women who have come forward to accuse him of sexual assault and sexual exploitation. “Believe me, she would not be my first choice,” he told his followers at one rally, referring to accuser Jessica Leeds. “When you looked at that horrible woman [on television] last night, you said, ‘I don’t think so.'” The crowd ate it up.
He later derided porn actress and producer Stormy Daniels, whom he had barely consensual sex with shortly after the birth of his youngest son, as “Horseface.” His fans quickly began pumping out the memes.
But the cruelty of Trump’s fans really went into overdrive after Christine Blasey Ford came forward to accuse not Trump but his supreme court nominee Bret Kavanaugh of attempted rape. After Trump, again at one of his rallies, mocked her less-than-perfect memory of an incident that happened nearly 40 years ago, his supporters cheered, and laughed, and began chanting “lock her up.”
As Serwer noted at the time,
Ford testified to the Senate … that one of the parts of the incident she remembered most was Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge laughing at her as Kavanaugh fumbled at her clothing. “Indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter,” Ford said, referring to the part of the brain that processes emotion and memory, “the uproarious laughter between the two, and their having fun at my expense.” And then at Tuesday’s rally, the president made his supporters laugh at her.
Social media was quickly filled with insulting memes and other smears from Trump’s acolytes:
Anyone nostalgic for this particular campaign of misogynistic bullying and hate can still buy Kavanaugh-themed “I like beer!” novelty t-shirts on Amazon.
For Carroll, the attacks have just begun. Given that she’s not suing Trump, and won’t be testifying before congress about her experience, it’s highly unlikely that the campaign against her will ever reach the size or the sheer nastiness of the campaign against Ford, who had to go into hiding for her own safety after her moment in the spotlight.
But, as even the memes about her I’ve seen remind us, the attacks on her are part of a larger pattern. (The woman on the right is Carroll.)
In the Daily Beast, Molly-Jong Fast notes that Carroll’s allegations will ultimately fade into the political background with all the other allegations against him, and most politicians will likely conclude “that the American people have forgotten and moved on.” But, she adds in a hopeful finale, “women remember,” and will have the chance to act upon these memories at the ballot box in 2020.
The trouble is that not all of these women will be voting against Trump. If you look at those participating in the Carroll-trashing today, you’ll notice that more than a few of them are women, some of them as eager as the men to attack Carroll as a “dog” who’d be lucky to get a second glance from Trump. And this has been the case in all the campaigns against Trump’s (and Kavenaugh’s) accusers. (You may recall the woman wearing the “Trump can grab my pussy” t-shirt at one of his rallies; Jong-Fast even cites her case herself.)
Like their male counterparts, these women positively enjoy going after Trump’s many alleged victims. For many of Trump’s fans, if not the vast majority of them, his bullying isn’t a bug but a feature — and an open invitation for them to join in. This is the essence of what draws them, regardless of gender, to Trump.
“If you don’t understand by now that the sexual assaults Trump has committed make his base like him even more, I’m not sure what to tell you,” writer and BitchMedia cofounder Andi Zeisler wrote on Twitter yesterday.
We can only hope, along with Jong-Fast, that our anger at this cruelty can overpower the cruelty itself at the ballot box. Because if it can’t, this country may be beyond redemption.
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