President Donald Trump has made looting and law and order a centerpiece of his re-election campaign. Setting aside temporarily the coded racial implications of this position, based on dozens of women's accounts, the president cares far more about the property of businesses than he does the bodily autonomy of women around him.
Based on dozens of women's accounts, the president cares far more about the property of businesses than he does the bodily autonomy of women around him.
"He just shoved his tongue down my throat and I was pushing him off," Amy Dorris told The Guardian in an interview published this week. The former model, who says she was assaulted by Trump in the mogul's VIP box at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in 1997, says that even though she resisted verbally and physically, Trump forced his body onto hers. "It felt like tentacles," she says. "And then that's when his grip became tighter and his hands were very gropey and all over my butt, my breasts, my back, everything." She was just 24 years old at the time, and she was attending the event with her boyfriend, while Trump was 51, more than twice her age (and married). She says that she told him, "No, please stop," but that "he didn't care."
These "allegations are totally false," Jenna Ellis, legal adviser to the Trump campaign, said in a statement to NBC News. "We will consider every legal means available to hold The Guardian accountable for its malicious publication of this unsubstantiated story. This is just another pathetic attempt to attack President Trump right before the election."
But his newest allegation brings the number of women who say they have been assaulted or harassed by Trump to at least 26, which is the size of a major-league baseball active roster and more than the number of people in Trump's Cabinet. The president, of course, denies any wrongful conduct toward women. While America's favorite pastime is baseball, mine seems to have become keeping track of all the women brave enough to share their stories about the man sitting in the Oval Office.
I've run out of ways to explain why it is upsetting that the president of the United States is a man who has been accused of having spent much of his adult life hurting women. In any other news cycle — and any other reality — this should be big news. A man dozens of women have accused of being a sexual predator is running for re-election and just might win. (Trump has denied any and all allegations.)
In America in 2020, these credible, consistent allegations are just business as usual. The president denies them, and we move on.
And yet in America in 2020, these credible, consistent allegations are just business as usual. The president denies them, and we move on. If Republican men like former House Speaker Paul Ryan and Sen. Mitt Romney were so enraged when Trump boasted about the speculative sexual assault of women in the "Access Hollywood" tape, why are they mostly silent now? For a party that is obsessed with "broad-shouldered" men and boasts about protecting "housewives" and white women from danger, Republican men seem oddly silent about the alleged serial predator who leads them.
But while we cannot force Republicans (or Democrats) to call the president on his hypocrisy, the least we can do is to force ourselves not to become numb to the accusations. We can honor the bravery of women like Amy Dorris by refusing to shrug off her story and treating every new detail with the seriousness and attention it deserves.
At this point, we are all unfortunately literate in the language and unique predatory tactics Donald Trump is alleged to have employed around women — because, for one, he described those tactics in detail. But what struck me the most about the 26th woman accusing the president of sexual misconduct wasn't her words. It was the silence of the men around her. The photographs Dorris shared show her and Trump posing for photos surrounded by powerful men like Leonardo DiCaprio, Sean Combs and David Blaine, all of whom declined to comment to The Guardian about her chilling testimony.
Her story, strikingly similar to the other allegations leveled against the president, was also corroborated by several people she told at the time (her mother, her two friends and her therapist), according to The Guardian. But it wasn't corroborated by her boyfriend at the time, business mogul Jason Binn, who was in the VIP box when the alleged assault occurred. While Dorris doesn't remember going into detail about the alleged assault, she remembers telling him: "He's all over me. I can't deal with this. You have to do something." Even though Dorris says he was only feet away from the alleged assault of a former girlfriend by a man she says he described to her as his "best friend," Binn strangely claims that he has "no recollection" that anything was amiss.
Trump has always relied on the men around him to help mitigate the damage from his various scandals (and he diligently returns the favor). And now his Cabinet is helping, too. In an enraging overreach of governmental powers, Attorney General William Barr is deploying the state's legal levers to silence and fight E. Jean Carroll, a woman who says she was attacked by Trump in a department store in the 1990s. Barr claims that the man sitting in the Oval Office was "acting within the scope of his office as President of the United States" when he said she was too ugly to assault. I'm glad women's tax dollars are being put to good use.
As I've written before, whenever another corroborated and credible accusation about Trump surfaces, he gives yet another master class in how to blame women for the things men do to them. Indeed, his attorneys have already gone on the offensive, attacking Dorris for not having reported the alleged assault — ignoring the fact that the majority of assaults are never reported to the police, precisely because of the kinds of victim-blaming tactics deployed by his legal team.
When I started the #WhyWomenDontReport hashtag in 2016 — after a Fox News host tweeted one of Trump's accusers' private phone numbers and another woman had to move out of her house because of death and rape threats — it was to show just how dangerous it is for women to tell the truth. Dorris knew the risks — that's what stopped her from coming forward sooner, she said — but she eventually decided to speak out anyway. "I've noticed a shift in how women are being treated since he became president. ... So I am coming out for me, for my kids," she told The Guardian.
Twenty-six women have boldly shared their stories with us. Now the question is: Will we show up for them?