Donald Trump spends more time pushing boundaries than attending to affairs of state. That ranges from sublime efforts to erase what passes for etiquette on social media to the more consequential, such as badgering the white men who almost exclusively comprise Trump’s GOP in Congress and the Cabinet. They cower shamelessly as their lord and master bellows new orders.
The House is working toward the point that it can present witness testimony to the general public, with Nancy Pelosi navigating the course for impeachment.
Unlike the boys in Trump’s GOP, Nancy Pelosi is always solidly and calmly in control. In fact, there is an undeniable pattern of strong women standing up to Trump while he joins the boys in his party, whimpering in fear.
Jean Carroll has accused Donald Trump of raping her in a department store. This happened years ago, and until recently she said nothing. The very idea of acknowledging that he raped her, in her mind, weakened her. She didn’t want to be seen as weak. But this year, she wrote about her experience from a position that was anything but weak.
On Monday, Jean Carroll filed a defamation suit against Trump for his public statements suggesting that Ms. Carroll lied about the time he raped her.
Among other things, Trump did what he did when other women showed the courage to come forward with hair-raising stories about the man that sits in our White House. He demeaned the women by accusing them of lying, of wanting attention and money. He tried to demean them by suggesting they are too ugly for him to assault. But ladies, we all know that sex crimes are never about sex. Sex is weaponized and used to humiliate women into submission by boys who think that’s how they become strong men, like the strong men they admire from afar.
Donald Trump is so typical of these boys. The only difference is his strong men also commit war crimes and crimes against humanity.
To get back to Carroll’s suit, the opening paragraph of her filing states the thing that makes us different from the countries Trump’s favorite strong men rule, namely that no one, including Donald J. Trump, is above the law.
Importantly, the opening paragraph summarizes what makes Trump’s lies about Carroll so awful. Indeed, Carroll is arguing that as awful and violent as the sexual assault was, the malice in Trump’s denials compounded it.
“Nobody in this nation is above the law. Nobody is entitled to conceal acts of sexual assault behind a wall of defamatory falsehoods and deflections. The rape of a woman is a violent crime, compounding that crime with acts of malicious libel is abhorrent. Yet, that is what Defendant Donald J. Trump did to plaintiff E. Jean Carroll.”
As a survivor, I can say that the post-rape lies hurt more than the rape itself, because those lies suggested that what happened to me didn’t happen, or even worse that somehow it was deserved. Or worst of all, that there was nothing wrong with that violent act against me. The only thing wrong is my objection to it.
It was déjà vu to see Donald Trump take the White House despite the Access Hollywood Tape https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/08/us/donald-trump-tape-transcript.html and especially following Melania’s “boys locker room talk” interview was déjà vu.
Who can forget feeling a bone-chilling sensation when we heard Trump utter those words:
You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.
It happened again when now Justice Kavanaugh was confirmed, with Maine Senator Susan Collins casting the deciding vote.
Dahlia Lithwick wrote an excellent piece on why the Kavanaugh confirmation is something we won’t just “get over.” You see the contrast between injustice of life post confirmation as Christine Blasey-Ford continues to live in fear for daring to object to being sexually assaulted by a man who would now sit on the most powerful court in America – sitting in judgement of us all.
It’s been a year since Kavanaugh’s hearing, when it appeared to Dahlia’s son that Kavanaugh was so violently angry that she was not safe. Now he is deciding cases on the Supreme Court and Dr. “Ford is still unable to resume her life or work for fear of death threats.”
But you can summarize so many things about Donald Trump’s term in office with this observation of Dalia Lithwick’s: “Women I meet every week assure me that they are never going to feel perfectly safe, which makes my son somewhat prescient.”
Men like Donald Trump and Brett Kavanaugh are why our voices have to be loud, strong and unified in purpose, be it at a town hall meeting, in Congress or in a courtroom.
There’s something empowering for every survivor in seeing Jean Carroll take the initial steps to telling Donald Trump “NO” in a way he won’t be able to test or refuse.
It’s empowering also to read through former Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch’s testimony before the House Intelligence Committee. In reading the transcript, you can see another strong woman telling Donald Trump “NO” in a way he won’t be able to test or refuse.
Yovanovitch’s story reminds us just how un-American and unpresidential Donald Trump is. This is not the story of someone unable to adjust to a business man governing a little differently than his predecessors.
It’s about the sort of shakedown you read about in stories about the mob or about totalitarian regimes like Russia. But more important for America, it’s a story of contrasts between a strong woman with character and the wusses Donald Trump surrounds himself with.
Ambassador Yovanovitch tells about how the cowering Rudy Guiliani tried to get her fired on behalf of his mob boss, Donny Trump. It gets more pathetic as she tells about Trump donor Sondland’s advice to her, per reporting by Jason Easley.
Q: And what did Mr. Sondland say when you talked to him about this topic?
A He hadn’t been aware of it, that the story had shifted, and he said, you know, you need to go big or go home. You need to, you know, tweet out there that you support the President, and that all these are lies and everything else. And, you know, so, you know, I mean, obviously, that was advice. It was advice that I did not see how I could implement in my role as an Ambassador, and as a Foreign Service officer.
Each of these women, Pelosi, Carroll and Yovanovitch, responded to Trump’s bullying tactics the same way. They said no and fought back. They used their voices from a position of strength. Trump and his boys don’t know how to process that. The very notion of women having their own voices is foreign to them. In their bubble, women just have elective kidney surgery and are only allowed to speak in public in deference to and defense of the men.
That bubble burst when in 2018 when Nancy Pelosi led Democrats to the biggest reversal of political fortunes in the House of Representatives since Nixon – and most of the victors were women – young women who know their voices matter because previous generations fought for their voices to matter. This was the first solid proof that Donald Trump’s roar is all he’s got. Women roared back and more.
Yes, it’s an ongoing battle – especially when there are women who surrender for the tax break their husbands say Donald Trump will give them.
But it’s a battle women know how to win as naturally as we know how to deal with boys who forever like to test boundaries.
It’s going to take women doing the work, be it running for office, supporting candidates, getting the vote out or counting those votes at the end of the day.
We’re worth it, as is America, as is everyone who wonders whether they’ll ever feel safe again.