E. Jean Carroll sued Trump in civil court for rape, sexual assault and defamation and won $5 million in damages. The jury took around three hours to decide Trump had sexually abused Carroll but didn’t find for Carroll on the rape charge. In other words they believed Trump had groped her, inserted his fingers into her but not necessarily his penis (the latter is a necessity for the New York definition of rape).
As Shakezula says, this is a win for Carroll and human decency but it was never going to change Trump voters’ views. And it didn’t: Trump supporters, however, are loud and proud, claiming TFG has been vindicated: the jurors said he didn’t rape her! The jurors said she lied! Clearly he didn’t defame her either! Misogynist Matt Walsh is among the right-wingers demanding harsher penalties for false rape accusations — they should go to prison for just as long as a rapist would get. Unsurprisingly there’s no suggestion we go beyond that, that false pedophilia accusers get the same sentence a pedophile would.
No surprise. Trump’s misogyny and his ability to get away with treating women like shit (not all women, but many of them) is a big part of his appeal: “Fear and hatred of women is at the absolute center of right wing politics in this country. That fascism is a wildly misogynistic ideology is not exactly some sort of coincidence.” Plenty of right-wingers (and a lot of people who aren’t right-wingers) think prosecuting rape is an attack on men.
Like all misogynist arguments, this is bullshit. The jury not calling it rape is a technicality. They believe Trump assaulted Carroll but they balked at labeling it rape — it’s a laden word, even though I think it’s the right one — or questioned whether he’d used his penis rather than his finger. This is not saying “Carroll lied” but She Lied is a common rape apologist argument. According to them, a woman accusing the wrong man isn’t mistaken — mistaken identity happens in many criminal cases — but willfully lying or lashing out because of her buyer’s remorse.
As the National Sexual Violence Resource Center says, this also affects police reporting on rape. Cops can close a case as “unfounded” if they investigate and determine the rape didn’t happen. In practice they routinely brand a case unfounded without an investigation: the victim didn’t report immediately, doesn’t want to talk, is vague about details, etc. All of these are common in real rape cases but cops buy into bullshit about women making it up as often. Trump supporters aren’t outliers in American rape culture … but that’s not an excuse.
For more of my opinion on rape culture and rape apologists (spoiler: I’m not a fan), check out Undead Sexist Cliches, available as a Amazon paperback, an ebook and from several other retailers. Cover by Kemp Ward, all rights remain with current holders.