Why didn’t more women, myself included, support Stormy Daniels before? We should have | Opinion

“So, to keep score,” The New York Times reported on Thursday morning, Donald Trump’s lawyer “has now tried to discredit (Stormy) Daniels by suggesting she is crazy, dishonest, money-grubbing, desperate and fame-hungry.

Of course he is; though Trump has not always paid his lawyers, that is what he’s being paid to do in the Manhattan courtroom where the ex-president is on trial for business and election fraud.

But until now, where have the women and other good feminists who should have been supporting Daniels all along been, myself included?

We who have for all these years been appalled by the man who laughed about grabbing women by the genitals have mostly been MIA on her behalf, and that isn’t right.

We who wrote in such ready support of E. Jean Carroll, the well known writer Trump was found liable of defaming and sexually abusing in a Bergdorf’s dressing room, have not similarly defended Daniels from the ex-president’s defamation, and why is that?

Part of it, I’m sure, is that whenever I saw the woman whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford on the news, she herself was making light of the situation. But I should have known better than to take that at face value.

If I had paid much attention at all to this case, beyond reading that just before the 2016 election, Trump paid Daniels not to say anything about their minute of whatever that was, I would have seen that “whatever that was” was highly exploitative at the very least.

Even now that she’s testified about coming out of the bathroom in his Lake Tahoe hotel room and finding him in his boxers on the bed, about blaming herself for so misjudging the situation, about dissociating during sex and then having trouble putting her shoes on because her hands were shaking so hard, some Trump critics are still referring to her in ways that attempt to diminish her.

Nothing about what she describes sounds unambiguously consensual, though I can see why she isn’t claiming otherwise.

Yet on MSNBC the other night, Stephanie Ruhle joked that when Daniels asked Trump, who she testified had greeted her in his PJs, to for heaven’s sake put some clothes on, it might have been the only time Daniels ever told a man to do that. Later in the show, Ruhle apologized, as she should have, but that she went there at all was ugly.

Feminists stood up for Bill Clinton, not Paula Jones

In a Times piece headlined, “Stormy Daniels was entertaining, but did she make a real impact?” Jonathan Alter wrote that the fact that her testimony supposedly had nothing to do with the fraud Trump is charged with committing to cover his tawdry tracks “renders Stormy Daniels in the witness box little more than a circus sideshow.”

I see nothing “fun but fundamentally irrelevant” here, even if Daniels did crack some jokes in court. And to call her testimony about exactly what was being covered up a circus sideshow is so condescending that it made me wonder how far we’ve really come from the days when James Carville dismissed Paula Jones as trailer trash after she accused his boss Bill Clinton of using his position to sexually intimidate her.

After being exploited, Jones, too, was seen as having in turn “exploited her time in the spotlight,” as Alter suggests that Daniels has done. But both were still mistreated.

Some famous feminists did women, and their own cause, a great disservice in standing up for Clinton then.

But this failure by even some Trump antagonists to appreciate that Daniels really has had reason to worry about her family is not even tribal, as the defense of Clinton was, so what is behind it?

It reads as class bias, which yes, is a Fox News trope, but which too many Democrats really do suffer from, or else poser populists like Josh Hawley would not get away with pretending to be the antidote.

Or maybe it’s the hypocrisy that Daniels, who was raised in Baton Rouge by a single mom and couldn’t afford to go to college, even with a scholarship, describes in the Peacock documentary about her. Maybe it’s our sanctimonious view of those who pay their bills the way she has. “You never saw my name that didn’t say ‘porn star’ in front of it,” Daniels said in the film, “because we’re not considered human.”

Really, those two explanations are such close cousins that it’s hard to tell them apart. And either way, I’m sorry that I didn’t see her situation more clearly long before she took the stand.