My Last Hideous Man
June 21, 2019 11:44 AM   Subscribe

E. Jean Carroll, advice columnist extraordinaire and former Miss Cheerleader USA, reckons with a life full of hideous men, from being attacked by her Girl Scout camp counselor to being raped at Bergdorf’s by the current President of the United States. (tw: rape and sexual assault)
posted by sallybrown (52 comments total) 78 users marked this as a favorite
This is a devastating essay with a gut punch of a last line, which made me reflect on how I essentially gave up on dating eleven years ago, after the last guy I was interested in treated me like garbage. Since then I've been on exactly two dates and have never had any real romantic interest in anyone. You can only pick yourself up and dust yourself off so many times, you know? And in my case I haven't even been sexually assaulted or physically abused by any of the men I've dated, though I have known physical, emotional and verbal abuse from male relatives. It all adds up over a lifetime.

This article made me tweet at Cheeto that he is a disgusting excuse for a human being and when he eventually kicks the bucket I am going to throw some kind of party to celebrate. And I'll do it, too.
posted by orange swan at 12:03 PM on June 21, 2019 [56 favorites]

I think in addition to being a strong article outing DT and LM, she was really insightful about her part in telling women to get over it, snap out of it, and get on with their lives. Brutally, brutally honest. Hard to read but glad I did. Fuck trump.
posted by Sophie1 at 12:16 PM on June 21, 2019 [15 favorites]

The writing in this is so freaking good, I'm suffering with some cognitive dissonance because it's so brilliant but the subject matter is so awful and traumatizing.

And of course people on Twitter are claiming this is only promotion for her upcoming book.
posted by suelac at 12:27 PM on June 21, 2019 [11 favorites]

Reading E. Jean’s advice column in Elle as a teenaged girl, you felt like she was a 90s Auntie Mame or a more independent Carrie Bradshaw—witty, adventurous, chic, always wearing beautiful clothes, and probably constantly trailed by friends and male admirers. She lived in New York City, she was a writer! It hurts to read this piece. I hate that it feels like no women get to escape this, not even the ones who seem like they might have. Reading that she hasn’t had sex since Donald Trump raped her in 1995—all I can do in response to that is cry.
posted by sallybrown at 12:43 PM on June 21, 2019 [76 favorites]

"..cavalcade of assholes" is entirely utterly appropriately wonderful phrasing, as is her easily understood distinction between a Hideous Man, and Not. I have memories of Nots ranging from: Oh, Dear; to: Aww, Wasn't I Daring?; never have they made me feel less than. The Hideous People memories are the hurt that keeps on giving.
Extra super gold stars for well written rage; and oh the desolation of that ending. Thank you very much sallybrown for posting.
posted by twentyfeetof tacos at 12:49 PM on June 21, 2019 [16 favorites]

And of course people on Twitter are claiming this is only promotion for her upcoming book.

Remember, only conservatives are allowed to be both capitalists and good guys, liberals have to choose one.
posted by lefty lucky cat at 12:49 PM on June 21, 2019 [89 favorites]

I couldn't get far into it without feeling literally sick to my stomach. That's some astonishingly powerful writing. And, what a fucked up world men make for women.
posted by treepour at 1:54 PM on June 21, 2019 [5 favorites]

It hurts to read this piece. I hate that it feels like no women get to escape this, not even the ones who seem like they might have.

Thank you for articulating this "oh my GOD, what..?!" reaction I had to this. I think I'm like everyone else in that I'm having such a hard time just like, accepting that all this is even happening, we just let all of this happen, and it's been happening for the last 40 years. He's just this villain who's been running around for the last 40 years doing every terrible thing you can think of and then we put him in charge of the world. Every time I think about it I'm like, oh my god, we did?? Wait, we really did that?
posted by bleep at 2:02 PM on June 21, 2019 [12 favorites]

....So, in the last paragraph...she mentions she still has the dress she was wearing from that Bergdorf Goodman encounter.

...A part of me is wondering if that is a veiled threat. Or - a coded message ("remember the last time there was a sexual encounter with a president and the woman had the dress still? Yep.")
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:08 PM on June 21, 2019 [46 favorites]

I hope she's been working through this trauma with someone. I would hate to think that for 25 years, she's been carrying this burden with nowhere to lay it down.
posted by droplet at 2:09 PM on June 21, 2019 [6 favorites]

Did she coin the use of Silent Generation to describe how women dealt with the constant pervasive assault and harassment without reporting or talking about it? It's a useful frame.
posted by vunder at 2:11 PM on June 21, 2019 [7 favorites]

Nah, Silent Generation is the name for the group of people who were a little too young to be 'Greatest Generation" but too old to be "Boomers".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:16 PM on June 21, 2019 [8 favorites]

No, of course I understand the use of it as a general term. I just feel like it's a useful way to think about women who don't talk about assaults and I hadn't heard it used that way before.

But I also now see that she was literally born between 1925 and 1945.
posted by vunder at 2:22 PM on June 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

Reading that she hasn’t had sex since Donald Trump raped her in 1995—all I can do in response to that is cry.

I feel better now about what happened in 2006 and subsequently. Nothing. Nothing at all.
posted by hugbucket at 2:30 PM on June 21, 2019 [4 favorites]

The Silent Generation are the parents of Gen Xers, typically.
posted by bonehead at 2:42 PM on June 21, 2019 [4 favorites]

Well, her story made my blood run cold. Horrible.
posted by NorthernAutumn at 2:46 PM on June 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

Wow, I have blurred vision recently due to hayfever and read this as 'hilarious men'. That's some stand-up routine.
posted by HypotheticalWoman at 2:54 PM on June 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

I am just now seeing the cover and headline of the print magazine.
posted by vunder at 3:00 PM on June 21, 2019 [7 favorites]

I hope she gets the support and security needed because shitty people are coming her way.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 3:35 PM on June 21, 2019 [9 favorites]

The last hideous man’s denial (now attached to the magazine cover linked above) merely confirms his hideousness.
posted by chavenet at 3:47 PM on June 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

In the US Politics megathread, this article has also been noted, including Trump's response, but the discussion has now been redirected here.

As a point of clarification to an earlier comment in the megathread that notes:
Carroll is now at least the 16th woman to accuse Donald Trump of sexual misconduct
I want to note my comment in a previous megathread that mentions a pending court case which includes, in addition to the plaintiff:
19 unrelated incidents involving women upon whom Defendant Trump allegedly committed nonconsensual acts, over the past four decades with differing circumstances
And these are only the women who have been able to speak out. Donald Trump is one of the most powerful people on the planet, and the courage it takes for these survivors to tell their stories is extraordinary.
posted by Little Dawn at 4:13 PM on June 21, 2019 [22 favorites]

Trump's statement includes the sentence, "I’ve never met this person in my life."

There's a photo of the two of them with their respective spouses at the time, taken at an NBC party circa 1987, featured in the article.
posted by orange swan at 4:14 PM on June 21, 2019 [32 favorites]

One thing that struck a chord with me—she remembered so well that the lingerie department was deserted, with no salespeople and no one else browsing. This is how it always feels at my local department store (not Bergdorf’s, lol). It’s so quiet and the changing rooms are carpeted, plush, and silent. Half the time I have to walk to another section to get help. I can really vividly picture what happened. It is weird how prosaic and fast sexual assault can be in the moment. You think “did that just happen? It was only a handful of seconds or minutes? How can it feel so huge and bad?”
posted by sallybrown at 4:19 PM on June 21, 2019 [51 favorites]

You think “did that just happen? It was only a handful of seconds or minutes? How can it feel so huge and bad?”

Very well said, sallybrown.
posted by Kemma80 at 4:37 PM on June 21, 2019 [4 favorites]

Well dolls, a few thoughts as I'm taking a break from packing (Hello, Vermont!):

1. I've been a megafan for years, and happily discovered a while back that we have mutual friends.
2. I think it's okay to say that our mutual friends have confirmed this story. He raped her.
3. She does a Hideous Men of NYC Walking Tour which looks amazing. I've been sending all my NYC friends on it who all raved and adore her because she is truly adorable.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 4:43 PM on June 21, 2019 [23 favorites]

I can't say it any better than sallybrown did.
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:47 PM on June 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

Like sallybrown, I read E. Jean’s advice in Elle at a young age. In my memories she was so kind, funny, warm, empathetic. She made me feel okay to be fat and not out of the closet (even to myself) in a tiny shitty town, something that all other fashion magazines (including the rest of Elle) emphatically did not do. That she was writing such beautiful advice — really, love letters to the women writing to her — and simultaneously carrying all this trauma breaks my heart.

Reading this I am also reminded of how much of her stories about men are my stories. Are all the stories of all the women and femmes I know. And we all suffered along with her when that rapist was elected.

I hope E. Jean is safe and knows she is treasured.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 7:17 PM on June 21, 2019 [15 favorites]

This is so normal. At some point you stop counting the men who assault or rape you. At least I did. My mind shies away from it. It hurts too much.

What was weird for me reading this? Is how utterly fucking normal and mundane it felt to me. Like yeah, suck. But even the woke dudes do it. The nice guys. Especially the (genuinely) nice guys. The guys who are dating or engaged to or married to your friends. The liberals. The socialists.

Europe is the only place I've ever felt safe. The US is a minefield of dicks.
posted by liminal_shadows at 7:23 PM on June 21, 2019 [7 favorites]

Reading that she hasn't had sex since the rape was...well it knocked my breath from me, and then I did that thing where you giggle oddly until you sob.

Over twenty years she couldn't. It's been seven for me. I thought, maybe I was just weird and broken because I never read that this is what happened to some people. But now. Google is not my friend.

Okay, well. Now I know.

This is all horrifying. Frankly I want Trump impeached. Then imprisoned. Then I want him to be walk down a street smelling like steak and ego into a surprise hole with tigers at the bottom. It's the least he deserves.
posted by 80 Cats in a Dog Suit at 7:31 PM on June 21, 2019 [27 favorites]

And even here, it's all politics with him - this is from Trump's statement:

If anyone has information that the Democratic Party is working with Ms. Carroll or New York Magazine, please notify us as soon as possible.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:39 PM on June 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

As a follow up to my previous comment, I think it should go without saying that it is an act of extraordinary courage for any survivor to share their story, because just in case it isn't obvious, the barriers that have existed still continue to exist, and they perpetuate a silence that is never the fault of the survivor. There is rough data about how dramatically underreported sexual assault can be (Brennan Center), including as noted by RAINN:
Only 230 out of every 1,000 sexual assaults are reported to police. That means about 3 out of 4 go unreported.1
The RAINN and Brennan Center links also describe some of the many reasons why people choose not to report. It is chilling to think about applying those rates to the current allegations against Donald Trump, especially given how much additional coercive power he has had and now has to wield against survivors.
posted by Little Dawn at 8:07 PM on June 21, 2019 [12 favorites]

I went searching and found again this charming and hilarious video interview/tribute that Elle made of E. Jean a few years ago called "Is E. Jean real?". On YouTube or Facebook. Her poodle! Her books!

The piece she wrote is amazing and terrifying and excoriating. Good for her.
posted by amanda at 8:22 PM on June 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

NYMag’s Trump Allegation Is a Clear Description of First-Degree Rape. Prosecution May Be Impossible. A former Bronx sex crimes prosecutor says the statute of limitations has likely expired—and it won’t matter even if there is DNA evidence. [Mother Jones]
posted by Capt. Renault at 9:35 PM on June 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

We recently went to JCPenny at the local mall, a positively giant store with many walled off departments and two floors. I was a little creeped out because not only were there no customers, there were no sales people. I saw one guy working the whole upper level. Another customer showed up and voiced my thoughts: "How is it that in this huge two-floor department store you have exactly two people manning the whole damn floor?" The worker just looked at him and said, "Have you seen our stock price lately?" Which I thought was a joke until I looked it up on my phone and saw that it had fallen below $1.00. It makes me wonder how many horrible things have happened in the dark corners of places like that.
posted by jabah at 5:20 AM on June 22, 2019 [4 favorites]

It's possible that he had called ahead in order to get there at closing and had them set something that they had chosen aside. The salesperson skedaddled because she didn't want Mr. Rapey-"rich"-guy to harass her.
posted by amanda at 7:17 AM on June 22, 2019 [5 favorites]

In the WaPo’s article, Carroll defends her coming forward now against Trump’s blanket denial and insinuations of publicity-seeking: “This is not political. Sexual violence is not political.” "Carroll said she didn’t come forward in 2016 because other women did, adding that she “didn’t have the guts.” But now, inspired by the #MeToo movement that began in late 2017, she said, “It’s time. It’s time.”"
posted by Doktor Zed at 10:00 AM on June 22, 2019 [4 favorites]

It's possible that he had called ahead in order to get there at closing and had them set something that they had chosen aside.

That would explain not only why no one was around, but also why the dressing rooms were unlocked.
posted by Bee'sWing at 1:15 PM on June 22, 2019 [1 favorite]

Trump repeats contested claim he does not know latest sexual assault accuser (Guardian)
More than 20 women have accused Trump of sexual misconduct. Carroll listed 15 of them in her article: Jessica Leeds, Kristin Anderson, Jill Harth, Cathy Heller, Temple Taggart McDowell, Karena Virginia, Melinda McGillivray, Rachel Crooks, Natasha Stoynoff, Jessica Drake, Ninni Laaksonen, Summer Zervos, Juliet Huddy, Alva Johnson and Cassandra Searles.
posted by Little Dawn at 9:12 PM on June 22, 2019 [2 favorites]

At least George Conway is hammering hard on "If you believe Juanita Broderick, you need to believe E. Jean Carroll."
posted by klangklangston at 2:39 AM on June 23, 2019 [3 favorites]

Reading that she hasn’t had sex since Donald Trump raped her in 1995—all I can do in response to that is cry.
In contrast, the guy I was dating who raped me contacted me over a year after I broke up with him to tell me that he hadn't let anyone cut his hair since I had cut it for him.

The girl says, “I’ll bet a boy tried something with you,” and I say, “Yeah,” and that is the last word I utter about the attack until now.
Tried something. that's all they ever do, isn't it? They're just trying. Just trying to kiss you. Just trying to slide a hand up your skirt and between your legs. Just trying to see how it feels. Trying to get as far as they can without there being a clear line they overstepped. Everything has to be gray (I'm looking at you, Ansari). They don't ever commit-commit assault, commit rape, commit any crimes. It's all games. The first time I was molested I was 12 and in a playground tree house with an older boy who wanted to play truth or dare, and despite not agreeing to it his hand still made it's way into my underwear all under the guise of a game. it's no one's fault, dont you know. Those are the rules of the game.
posted by FirstMateKate at 11:35 AM on June 23, 2019 [11 favorites]

liminal_shadows: Europe is the only place I've ever felt safe. The US is a minefield of dicks.

As a European, I'm afraid there's something you need to know.
posted by Too-Ticky at 2:17 AM on June 24, 2019 [3 favorites]

Columbia Journalism Review: E. Jean Carroll’s Trump rape claim did not get enough coverage
As is often the case, the criticism that “the media” did “not cover” Carroll’s accusation should not be taken literally. The story was generated by the cover of a major magazine and provoked a vocal reaction on Twitter; Carroll subsequently spoke to major networks, and will continue her interview round today as New York hits newsstands. The complaint, rather, is one of magnitude, and on such terms is entirely legitimate. As Media Matters for America’s Katie Sullivan pointed out, Carroll’s claim did not make the front page of Saturday’s New York Times, Wall Street Journal, LA Times, or Chicago Tribune; The Washington Post did put it on A1, but did not lead with it. Also on Saturday, Nieman Lab’s Joshua Benton calculated that the story was not among the 164 articles featured on the Times’s homepage; it appeared there later on, but the Times tagged it in its books section, and even there it was downplayed. As of this morning, the story is all but absent from the homepages of major outlets. Yes, it’s three days old at this point. But, as MSNBC’s Joy Reid said yesterday: “In any other universe, in any other presidency, in any other news cycle… [Carroll’s allegations] would have been the lead story all week long.”
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:57 AM on June 24, 2019 [10 favorites]

> Columbia Journalism Review: E. Jean Carroll’s Trump rape claim did not get enough coverage

Kevin Drum, Mother Jones: Donald Trump Is an Alleged Serial Sexual Assaulter
This episode hasn’t gotten an awful lot of attention ... I don’t think it has anything to do with media outlets not taking rape allegations seriously. The real answer is almost worse: (a) everybody just assumes the story is true and (b) everybody knows that it will have no effect on either Trump’s fans or his Republican Party colleagues. Trump will issue a pro forma denial; nobody will take it seriously; and that will be that. Just like the other 15 times.

Even after more than two years, I wake up every morning and I can’t believe that Donald Trump is the president of the United States. It’s a stain we’ll never live down.
posted by RedOrGreen at 2:40 PM on June 24, 2019

Why did the media downplay the latest sexual assault allegation against Trump? (Guardian)
The question of Trump’s sexual conduct was hardly raised among the flagship Sunday political talk shows, though MSNBC and CNN did call Carroll in for on-camera interviews within their normal run of scheduling. On the print side, Media Matters highlighted the absence or relative diminution of the charges on the Saturday front pages of many of the most august newspapers in the country, including the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune and others.

The most peculiar editorial decision was that of the Times to locate the story on its books pages (a nod at What Do We Need Men For?, Carroll’s forthcoming book in which she lays out the allegations). Quizzed by the paper’s readers’ editor on this peculiar placement, executive editor Dean Baquet conceded “we were overly cautious” and said the basic details of the story “should’ve compelled us to play it bigger”. [...]

But whatever the finer details of the editorial choices made by top newspaper and TV outlets, the collective appearance of lack of enthusiasm for the story left many observers rattled.

“This is extremely worrying and I really can’t understand how we ended up here,” Barbara Davis, a best-selling women’s fiction writer, told the Guardian. “We seem to be experiencing in the entire country a desensitization towards cruelty, lawlessness and bad behavior – we are becoming numb when we should be taking to the streets.”
posted by Little Dawn at 1:24 PM on June 25, 2019 [2 favorites]

Not my type (Alexandra Petri, WaPo)
“She’s not my type,” the president says, in response to an excerpt from writer E. Jean Carroll’s recent book, accusing him of sexual assault. “Number one, she’s not my type. Number two, it never happened.”

I am sick to death of this, this brazenness, this insult heaped upon injury. This conflation of two things that are not the same. That the words he says to dismiss this are “not my type” — as though a violation would have been a compliment. As though to be told the horrible things a man would do in the name of attraction is flattery, not threat.

There is a door in my head behind which I am screaming all the time. That this man is president, that a man we think capable of this is president, that this will dent nothing, because this is what is expected. That these are the words that issue from him instead of a proper denial. That he thinks to say he would not rape a woman is an insult.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 2:56 PM on June 25, 2019 [12 favorites]

That he thinks to say he would not rape a woman is an insult.

Does the President not know what rape is? Is he saying that if someone is unlucky enough to be his type then, yes, he might rape them? Is his default mode just to automatically diminish rape? Suggesting it has anything to do with "types" or attraction or choices? (His particular egregiousness must be occurring on an instinctual level, because he is not smart enough to be deploying such phenomenally triggering statements as this - with such ease. I'm stunned).
posted by marimeko at 5:43 PM on June 25, 2019

Does the President not know what rape is?

He probably knows enough to know it's connected with sex. He thinks "she's not my type" is a defense because "I wouldn't have wanted to have sex with her even if she said 'yes', why would I try to force her into doing something I wouldn't have wanted to do?"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:56 PM on June 25, 2019 [2 favorites]

Someone accused the US president of rape. The media shrugged (Arwa Mahdawi, Guardian Opinion)
To be fair, it wasn’t just media outlets that reacted to Carroll’s accusations with subdued shrugs. When I first read the New York magazine I was shocked at how little I was shocked by it. The news is exhausting and I’m sure many of us suffer from outrage fatigue. America is locking kids in filthy cages, and private companies are profiting from it. The world is hurtling towards a climate catastrophe, and the Trump administration is looking the other way. Every day seems to bring some new nightmare; it is inevitable we become numbed to it.

And then, of course, you’ve got the fact that Carroll is the 22nd woman to publicly accuse Trump of sexual misconduct. And the fact that Trump has publicly boasted about grabbing women without their consent. And the fact that his ex-wife, Ivana Trump, accused him of rape. (She later said she did not mean it in “a literal or criminal sense”.) And the fact that every time he is accused of sexual misconduct, Trump brushes off the accusations in exactly the same way. He accuses the women of lying; he accuses them of being motivated by fame; and he threatens them. [...]

In an interview with CNN on Monday, Carroll reacted to Trump’s denials by calling out how predictable his response was. “He denies it, he turns it around, he attacks, and he threatens,” Carroll said. “And then everybody forgets it, and the next woman comes along … I am sick of it.”

I’m sick of it too. Yet this cycle doesn’t look like it’s going to stop. By next week I doubt many of us will still be talking about Carroll. And then, one imagines, another accuser will come along and this whole story will play out again.

Or perhaps another accuser won’t come along. Perhaps women are hearing Trump’s message loud and clear: don’t bother speaking up about sexual assault, especially if it was by a powerful man, because nothing will happen. Your character will be assassinated, you will be threatened, and the man will paint himself as the victim. Perhaps women are looking around at Trump and Brett Kavanaugh and Louis CK and all the powerful men who have brushed off misconduct claims like they’re parking tickets, and thinking, “Why bother saying anything, when nobody is going to believe me anyway?” Which, of course, is exactly what predators like Trump want.

“When you’re a star, they let you do it,” Trump famously said. “You can do anything. Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.” The “they” Trump was talking about in that statement wasn’t the women themselves; it was the apparatus of power silencing them. It was the criminal justice system that gives wealthy men the benefit of the doubt. It was the pundits who suggest “maybe she was asking for it”. It was the newspapers that treat sexual assault allegations with a level of caution they rarely seem to apply to other cases. It was the politicians who think political pragmatism is more important than impeaching the president when he proves himself unfit for office – time and time and time again.
posted by Little Dawn at 7:42 AM on June 26, 2019

From the invaluable Dahlia Lithwick: E. Jean Carroll Told Her Story Anyway:

"I understand why so many people think the media’s failure here is the result of boredom. One reality of the Trump era is how profoundly boring it is—we watch the same dramas unfold, again and again; we debunk the same lies, again and again; and we issue the same warnings, again and again. But I don’t think that what happened here is the result of boredom so much as an almost perfect journalistic incapacity for telling any story it hasn’t told a thousand times before. Maybe we’re not bored. Maybe we’re just boring."
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 8:24 AM on June 26, 2019

people on Twitter are claiming this is only promotion for her upcoming book
It can be promotion for her book and still be true. I don't have to like her to believe that Trump is a vile sexual aggressor who raped her. She has more credibility than he does. Sorry, that's damning with faint praise. His response of not my type leaves me wordless with rage.

The media has been sexist and has allowed Trump to play them. We have to be tougher this election.
posted by theora55 at 1:18 PM on June 27, 2019

America’s last hideous man (Molly Roberts, WaPo)
“I think most people think of rape as being sexy,” E. Jean Carroll said this week to CNN’s Anderson Cooper. “They think of the fantasies.”

Well, maybe not. Plenty of women certainly disagree. But Carroll’s refusal to conform to the typical script of the post-#MeToo era is precisely what makes her contribution so compelling ⁠— especially as, in a host of other ways, her rendering of her own experience runs parallel to the larger narrative of a country caught up in a reckoning.

Carroll, who late last week accused President Trump of sexual assault in an essay in New York magazine, has written a book called “What Do We Need Men For?” It appears cheeky and, according to “The Daily” podcast from the New York Times, it was initially intended to be even cheekier. But then Harvey Weinstein was exposed as Public Abuser No. One, and Carroll’s lighthearted travels around the country asking women to justify the less-fair sex’s existence turned grimmer. She could ask other women about men, but first she had to figure out how she felt about those in her own history.

So did the rest of us.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 10:30 AM on June 28, 2019

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