Are the latest sexual assault allegations against Donald Trump finally registering with voters? Or do some of his supporters actually approve of Trump behaving towards women in this way?
The former model Amy Dorris has come forward – in a story broken by the Guardian – to accuse Trump of assaulting her at the US Open in 1997 (which she was attending with her then boyfriend), leaving her feeling “sick” and “violated”. Dorris accuses Trump of grabbing her, forcing his tongue down her throat and groping her, saying “it felt like there were tentacles on me that I couldn’t rip off”. The allegations against Trump now number at least 26, including more than a dozen accusations of sexual assault, one from the writer E Jane Carroll who is suing him for defamation after he dismissed her as a liar, saying he never met her.
Some people may not view the allegations as being in the realm of sexual assault, or even sexual misconduct
The Trump camp is attempting to undermine Dorris, asking why she continued to mix socially with Trump after the alleged attack, as if being overwhelmed and embarrassed was the clincher. They say the allegations are politically motivated, when in truth Dorris was too nervous about the impact on her daughters to come forward in 2016, and she is still anxious now.
What happens now: does anything? Shocking as these allegations are, it was around this stage of the 2016 campaign that Trump’s notorious “Grab ’em by the pussy” remarks surfaced, but that didn’t stop him becoming president. It makes you wonder whether this isn’t just a case of certain voters dismissing and disbelieving claims about him being a predator. Or worse, it makes you wonder whether some voters hear allegations of Trump’s sexually aggressive behaviour and regard them not as repulsive and criminal, but as evidence that he is a red-blooded male.
Has this become part of the story: far from hindering Trump, in some people’s eyes the allegations increase his popularity? This is not to claim that Americans condone rape, rather that some people may not view the allegations as being in the realm of sexual assault, or even sexual misconduct. For some, even these days, the rape narrative is fixed mentally as a stranger in an alleyway with a gun or a knife.
In this context, many of the allegations against Trump could be explained or shrugged away as a man behaving badly, trying his luck, “doing what men do”. In fact, the allegations against the president are serious and criminal. They don’t signify a red-blooded male trying his luck; they paint a picture of a determined, serial sexual predator.
Thus, even though it’s disheartening to see mounting allegations dismissed as so much white noise, it’s also clear how vital it is that these brave women keep coming forward. As with any case of this kind, the sheer volume of allegations is telling its own story.
Play like posh people and forget the ‘rule of six’
Perusing the “rule of six” exemptions, it’s obvious that the ever-carping British public has only itself to blame if it has failed to nurture the correct professional and leisure pursuits.
Why are people moping about not being able to celebrate family birthdays? They should take up grouse shooting. Then, armed with guns, and garbed in tweeds, they could trample through grass, shooting at defenceless creatures. Talk about a smashing family day out. Presumably, grouse shooting is permitted because it’s in the open air and the mainly wealthy folk who enjoy killing things can be trusted to socially distance. However, socially distanced team sports in public parks aren’t permitted, for reasons that are none of our business.
Elsewhere, two families having a chat in the street is classed as “illegal mingling” and, if your family numbers more than six, you won’t see them this Christmas. Rule-breakers will incur hefty fines. Instead of seeing their inconveniently large families, people should show some common sense and go to play poker or blackjack in casinos. The government has decreed that casinos can stay open, so it’s clear: we must look to the nation’s gamblers for guidance in how to conduct ourselves during the pandemic. Same with businessmen, who are still able to assemble in conference halls in groups of up to 30. Got that? Gamblers, business types and grouse shooters are trusted to behave responsibly. You and your gran, not so much.
Facetiousness aside, I can’t be alone in feeling that I’ve entered the end stage of the Covid-19 Twilight Zone. With bizarre exemptions such as these, is it any wonder that the British public is increasingly disobliging and restless?
Mark Glastonbury’s 50th with rain, mud, warts and all
Could one hope for the unvarnished truth about Glastonbury? To mark the festival’s 50th year, in a tie-in with the V&A, there is to be an online archive of performances, memorabilia and memories from artists and fans, which have been collected since June. All of which sounds intriguing, especially in a year when festivals are off.
However, as people continue to write in with misty-eyed tales of boogying and jester’s hats, do less rosy-coloured memories have a chance of making the cut? Like mine, standing in heavy rain, ankle-deep in mud, while a stoned New Ager emptied his bowels next to me. Another time, I had to rescue the late, great NME writer Steven Wells from the site, as he started gibbering like a hallucinating Vietnam war veteran.
Or what about the halcyon memories of on-site corporate yurts, where people could sanitise the Glastonbury experience to the point where they might as well have stayed in their own back gardens?
In the interests of impartiality, Nicky Wire from the Manic Street Preachers joking on stage about “building a bypass over this shithole” surely deserves a spot? Happy birthday, Glastonbury festival, there’s nothing wrong with reminiscing, especially this year. Just include some truth.
• Barbara Ellen is an Observer columnist