I had never read E. Jean Carroll before I stumbled across the excerpt from her book What Do We Need Men For? She had written for Elle and I didn't read women's magazines. Because women like me don't read those magazines. We read Harper's and The Atlantic. You know, men's magazines. Intellectual.
But suddenly, last year, E. Jean was everywhere, and so was her book. Not because it was spectacularly well written, which it indubitably was, but because of the few pages in which the writer and TV talk show host described how Donald Trump raped her in Bergdorf Goodman.
I mean, Bergdorf Goodman.
I was driving, actually, when I saw the excerpt "Hideous Men." It was a long haul from California to Santa Fe, and I was idly flipping through headlines on my phone.
I confess: I'm a crazy person in the car. If there's no traffic and it's a long drive, I check my phone. A lot.
But this was extreme. I read the whole thing. While driving. Because I had never read anything like what E. Jean Carroll had written. Never. In my life.
Yet I knew the story. Every woman knows it.
I had experienced nothing like the litany of egregious behavior that E. Jean recounted, yet I'd faced enough of it to be utterly riveted. And moved. Literally, as I read it at 80 miles per hour. I'm not crazy and I don't want to die, so I put the phone down a few times. But the second the roadway cleared, I picked it up again. I read with an urgency I hadn't felt since I was, I don't know, a teenager, when I was learning about life from books.
Thank you, E. Jean, for teaching me about life, even at a time when I thought I knew it all, and knew myself.
E. Jean Carroll comes from a different generation, but I was close enough to her age to share her attitude. She chalked male bad behavior up to experience, the wages of a life lived boldly.
With Trump in power, it suddenly became bigger than her own story.
And there were other women. That makes it easier: taking a stand for someone else. She saw the whole thing differently. Finally, she heard her friend Lisa Birnbach, who had told her, 23 years before: "He raped you."
Now E. Jean, who's a great writer -- did I mention how great she is? -- is writing an incredible series for The Atlantic magazine, talking to the other women our Masher-in-Chief allegedly assaulted.
This is not about sex. It's about power. Well, kinda, both, right? But the fight now is for power. Ours.
With the choice of Amy Coney Barrett as nominee to the Supreme Court, a woman who cloaks her anti-woman, pro-corporate ideology in rhetoric she borrows from the egregious Antonin Scalia, for whom she clerked, Trump will solidify his rape of American women.
You heard me. This time it's not one or three, or 26, the number of women accusing him now.
This time it's all of us.
Read E. Jean's incredible work.
And P.S. Maybe, someday, The Atlantic will commission women to write about something other than, uh, being a woman. Like economics, history, or the future of America. We're waiting.
My first rich boy pulled down my underpants. My last rich boy pulled down my tights. My first rich boy — I had fixed my eyes on his face long enough to know — was beautiful, with dark gray eyes and long golden-brown hair across his forehead. I don’t know what he grew up to be. My last rich boy was blond. He grew up to be the president of the United States.
The first rich boy’s name was James. He was raped by his grandfather. He was raped by his uncles. He was beaten by his father. My mother told me the stories much later. When James was 6, he was taken away from his father and given to a rich couple, Arthur and Evelyn. Arthur and Evelyn were best friends with my parents, Tom and Betty. One day my parents gave a party. Everyone brought their kids. Arthur and Evelyn drove up from Indianapolis with James to the redbrick schoolhouse where we lived, deep in the hills north of Fort Wayne. As the parents drank cocktails in our big yard with the scent of the blooming wads of cash infusing every inch of Indiana just after WWII, the kids played up on the hill beside the schoolhouse.
James was 7 and a half or 8, a bloodthirsty, beautiful, relentless boy. He ordered everyone around, even the older kids. To me he said, “I’m going to shove this up you again.”
We’d played this game before. Our families had gone on a camping trip to Pokagon State Park, and I learned that an object could be shoved up the place where I tinkled. I don’t remember now what it was, probably a stick, or maybe a rock. It felt like being cut with a knife. I remember I bled.
“I don’t want to,” I said.
We were standing on the hill. James looked at me with his feral gray eyes.
He wadded up a piece of fabric — it was a light blue-violet shade and looked fluffy, like a bunched-up hairnet.
“Put this in your underpants,” he said.
He pulled up my dress and crammed the balled-up material down my pants. Late at night, when the guests had gone home, I took off my dress, pulled down my pants. And there it still was, the wadded-up thing.
James and I played so many ferocious games while camping that summer: hooking each other with fishhooks, holding each other underwater, tying each other up, shooting each other with cap guns, chasing each other with garter snakes, dumping hot embers on each other’s heads. I am not putting him on the Most Hideous Men of My Life List — whether he belongs there is for him to decide. It is his uncles, his father, his grandfather who belong on such a list.
Now, about this Most Hideous Men of My Life List: It is a list of the 21 most revolting scoundrels I have ever met. I started it in October 2017, the day Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey published their Harvey Weinstein bombshells in the New York Times. As the riotous, sickening stories of #MeToo surged across the country, I, like many women, could not help but be reminded of certain men in my own life. When I began, I was not sure which among all the foul harassers, molesters, traducers, swindlers, stranglers, and no-goods I’ve known were going to make the final accounting. I considered Matt Lauer, Bill O’Reilly, and the giant dingleberry Charlie Rose, all guys whose TV shows I was on many times and who made headlines during the rise of #MeToo. But in the end, they do not make my Hideous List.
Hunter S. Thompson … now, there’s a good candidate. I know. I wrote his biography. Does Hunter, the greatest degenerate of his generation, who kept yelling, “Off with your pants!” as he sliced the leggings from my body with a long knife in his hot tub, make the list? Naw.
And if having my pants hacked off by a man lit to the eyebrows with acid, Chivas Regal, Champagne, grass, Chartreuse, Dunhills, cocaine, and Dove Bars does not make the list — because to me there is a big difference between an “adventure” and an “attack” — who, in God’s name, does make my Hideous List?
After almost two years of drawing and redrawing my list, I’ve come to realize that, though my hideosity bar is high, my criteria are a little cockeyed. It is a gut call. I am like Justice Potter Stewart. I just know a hideous man when I see one. And I have seen plenty. For 26 years, I have been writing the “Ask E. Jean” column in Elle, and for 26 years, no matter what problems are driving women crazy — their careers, wardrobes, love affairs, children, orgasms, finances — there comes a line in almost every letter when the cause of the correspondent’s quagmire is revealed. And that cause is men.
"I Moved on Her Heavily" Part I
Natasha Stolyoff by E. Jean Carroll
Norman Mailer is so amazed at how hard Natasha can hit that whenever she stays with him and his wife, Norris, in Provincetown, she and Norman put on the gloves and they spar on the back porch. Each new boxing trainer tells Natasha that she should turn professional. Her punch is between hospitalization and murder. Her nickname is Boom Boom. Boom Boom? One can imagine the rest.
So when Natasha flies down to Mar-a-Lago to interview Donald Trump and his wife, Melania, for People magazine and its 3,734,536 readers in 2005, and Trump says that he wants to “show her something” and she follows him into a room off the patio and Trump shuts the door and bangs her up against the wall and shoves his tongue down her throat, we all know what happens next. Trump lunges at her again, and Natasha delivers a sweet little uppercut that lands just under his heart, and as he emits a comical “Ooof,” she buffs his jaw with her trademark “powder puff”—a punch so hard that Trump slides to the floor and flops on the marble before being carried away by the butler. Okay, I grant you. That is only what Natasha says she wishes she’d done. Trump does shovel his tongue down her throat, but Natasha doesn’t slug him. It is, however, a blow that Natasha and I love imagining. So, reader, are you ready to find out what really happens?
Read the rest of Part I here.
Two Women, Two Breasts, Two Decisions
Karena Virginia by E. Jean Carroll
Fifty or so miles out of New York City, in a hamlet so rich, it makes Mar-a-Lago’s Palm Beach look like a John Mellencamp video, there lives a beautiful woman by the name of Karena Virginia. Today is a brilliant Monday. The sun pours down like Fort Knox gold. Karena has conducted an angel sanctuary over the weekend—connecting her friends (she calls clients “friends”) with the supernatural beings she believes are as real as each of us—and later today she is teaching friends to breathe in tune with the ocean waves for “Yoga on the Beach.”
When I pull up in my car, Karena is standing in the road. To welcome me, she raises the brim of her enormous beach hat and holds a pose on one foot, lifting her arms to the gods like a forest sprite. If William Blake—the poet and artist who conversed with angels in the nude—could see Karena in her turquoise sarong and turquoise bikini bottom with the circle clasp on the hip, her long, golden-brown hair streaming down her back, he would paint her with wings.
Donald Trump once spots Karena at the U.S. Open tennis tournament as she waits for a car, but he doesn’t paint her. It is 1998, and she recalls that he says to his male pals, “Hey, look at this one. We haven’t seen her before.”
“I am wearing a short, black, sleeveless A-line dress,” continues Karena, who can also tell me the exact skirt, sweater, and shoes she is wearing when she meets her husband a year later. “I call my friend immediately after I get in the car and tell her what happened and ask if she thinks it is because my dress is too short. I remember thinking my protective Italian father would have been appalled at my outfit, because Trump, as he is walking toward me with his entourage, says: ‘Look at those legs.’ It’s my fault that I allow him to grab my arm without my pulling away. And then he goes further”—she demonstrates, quickly sliding her knuckles back and forth on the right side of her bust—“and he grabs my breast.”
Now let us leave Karena and visit a handsome apartment on the Upper West Side. It is 21 years later, June 2019. A lawyer sits in an armchair suckling a newborn. The child is about the size of a basset hound—he weighed nearly 10 pounds at birth—and the lawyer, a peach-complexioned looker (yes, reader, another pretty woman, but we are dealing with a man who, you’ll recall, denies that he attacks women by claiming they’re not “his type”), glances up from the giant baby. “This is off the record,” she announces to her companions, several women who are being interviewed about sexual assault.
The lawyer is not taking part in the discussion, but her story is so on point that she couldn’t help but chime in. The journalist is The New York Times’ Megan Twohey, who in 2016 reported some of the earliest sexual-misconduct allegations against Trump and who, along with Jodi Kantor and Ronan Farrow, won the Pulitzer Prize for breaking the Harvey Weinstein story.
“Of course,” Twohey says, off the record.
And the lawyer says: “Trump grabbed my boob.”
The Shot Heard in Every Woman's Front Yard
Donald J. Trump, determined to hold onto power by fair means or foul, is being helped by the Washington Post's editorial page editor, Fred Hiatt, a Beltway insider who's become increasingly conservative in recent years, instead of merely cloistered and unimaginative (Beltway-its, a truly pernicious Washington D.C. disease).
Hiatt ran a treacly oped just before Trump made his bombshell announcement that he was appointing Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court. The author's biography neglected to mention that he heads a center that awards a medal for "lifetime achievement in the pro-life movement."
Here's what real reporters know about judging a candidate: Look at their record.
Ruth Marcus, who's both an editorial page contributor at the Post and a syndicated columnist, is the gold standard for reporters: clear-thinking, fair, never prone to the Beltway-itis that afflicts so many.
Marcus cut to the chase: the problem with Barrett is that she is not only capable but enthusiastic about overturning precedent. Barrett's excuse, like the one used by her mentor, Antonin Scalia, is the doctrine (if you can call it that) of "Originalism."
In other words, what did the Founding Fathers think? (Kinda like that bumper sticker: What Would Jesus Do?)
Because the world is exactly the same as it was in the 18th century, right?
This is like believing that the Bible is the literal word of God and every line of it should be enforced.
Plucking out eyes, that sort of thing? Fine. (Just the right eye, please.)
And, of course, Barrett belongs to a fundamentalist Catholic sect that many find alarming.
The quick hit is that Barrett will provide the necessary vote to do away with legal abortion and same sex marriage. But let's not forget the real stakes: judges like Scalia and Barrett are defenders of corporate power.
The other rule for reporters: Follow the money.
We are. We will. Here is Ruth Marcus' tight but comprehensive take, written before the announcement:
No issue is more pivotal in considering a Supreme Court nomination than the candidate’s view of when to overturn a case she considers wrongly decided.
And no nominee has openly endorsed views as extreme as Barrett’s on the doctrine of stare decisis, the principle that the court should not lightly overrule its precedents. In a series of law review articles, Barrett makes clear that in matters of constitutional interpretation, she would not hesitate to jettison decisions with which she disagrees.
“I tend to agree with those who say that a justice’s duty is to the Constitution and that it is thus more legitimate for her to enforce her best understanding of the Constitution rather than a precedent she thinks clearly in conflict with it,” Barrett wrote in 2013.
So it begins....
The Koch-linked group, Americans for Prosperity (AFP) is moving ahead with a campaign to ensure confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett. Direct mail, digital ads, and phone banking are part of the push to convince key senators to vote for confirmation.
In case you thought this was about abortion.
But she's so nice.
- Susan Zakin and JOTPY Editors
Hurt ::: Johnny Cash