angry in the key of woman
E. Jean Carroll wrote a beautiful, brutal article about the time Donald Trump raped her in a fitting room at Bloomingdale’s. The story is credible, and has been substantiated by friends of hers whom she told at the time of the attack. It ran in New York magazine at the end of June. For those of you keeping count at home, that’s 2 weeks ago, give or take a multiversal eternity.
Jeffrey Epstein, whose barbed-wire beehive full of fire ants and hungry rats is waiting for him in hell, was arrested on July 6, on several counts of the sex trafficking of minors.
Epstein is, among other things, the happyfuntime dudebro shitstain bestie of the current President, who, lest we forget, hit the dirtbig trifecta of:
a) famously pining for his own hot daughter,
b) praising serial pedophile Epstein on the record for his excellent taste in young women;
And c) raping E. Jean Carroll in a fitting room at Bloomingdale’s.
*** QUICK MOUTHWASH BREAK. I, TOO, VOMMED IN MY MOUTH A LITTLE. ***
These recent stories did not “break” the news of Trump’s predilections for sexual violence so much as they “confirmed” “yet again” “what we’ve known since before we elected him.” And it seems as if we should be drowning in a churning sea of Trump rape outrage.
And yet, we are not.
And yet, the outrage pieces I’m seeing are focused not on Trump’s well-documented rape habit, but on the fact that “other people” aren’t mad enough about Trump’s well-documented rape habit.
We haven’t focused our outrage on Trump, from whom we’ve long ceased to expect anything but coarse dick-flavored monstrosity, but rather on our journalists and lawmakers and platform-holders, and by extension on newswatchers, voters, and consumers who have failed to force people with microphones to speak on this issue with vitriolic enough loathing so as to literally scorch POTUS, VPOTUS, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell first into a group aloe bath and, later, hopefully, early retirement.
It’s hard for me to read those kinds of stories and not take them personally. They feel like an indictment of public empathy, or at least a judgmental mother’s tender assassination of every person who knows what Trump has done and has not, I guess, set fire to the White House? Or… started up a new Meetup: Coup-Curious in Cleveland, for Buckeyes considering a little light treason between rounds of cornhole?
“I’m not angry at you. I’m just disappointed,” these stories are saying.
I guess I’m just going to have to live with your disappointment. Your disappointment might have to take a number, though, until one of my current roommates vacates. See, I run a boarding house in my brain where I give space to other people’s feelings about my behavior, and we’re full up right now. “Smug condescension” won’t get the fuck out of the bathroom and “You know you’re asking for it when you wear shorts to the gym” keeps stealing my goddamn Chobanis out of the fridge.
Meanwhile, “You’re not mad enough, get pissed” and “You’re too mad, calm down” both want the top bunk, and “Your parenting could be more like MY parenting, truth be told,” keeps leaving me passive-aggressive notes on the fridge about how to load the dishwasher.
So yeah, it’s a full house in here, and your disappointment that I didn’t MAKE SENATORS AND CNN DEMONSTRATE HOW MUCH THEY CARE WITH OPERATIC FLOURISH, ABOUT THE SAME FUCKING STORY WE’VE BEEN READING SINCE 2016 AND TRUTH BE TOLD LONG BEFORE THAT, is gonna be waiting on the stoop for a bit.
See? I’m mad.
Mad isn’t the issue.
I’m mad about E. Jean. I’m mad about what Trump did to her. I’m mad about all the children that Epstein fucked. I’m fucking mad that justice is for sale. I’m furious that periodicals will lend their inches to women with stories to tell only as long as those stories are likely to be profitable.
IT’S BULLSHIT. IT’S AAAAAALL BULLSHIT. WE KNOW.
WELCOME TO THE PARTY. IT’S AWFUL IN HERE. IT’S INEXPLICABLY HUMID AND THE PIZZA IS COLD AND THE BEER IS FLAT. SOMEBODY KEEPS FARTING AND THERE’S NO WAY OUT. WE ARE ALL ANGRY.
I read E. Jean Carroll’s piece and it blew me away. I read the Epstein allegations. I was furious. I was not shocked.
Even Dory the Ellen fish knows that Trump is a piece of shit dickmonster and she has a short-term memory of about 8 seconds. Lucky for her, Trump tweets a new Dickmonster Quotable Classic™ about every 8 seconds, so she gets a constant stream of:
(Dory reads tweet) “Hey, Nemo! Who the fuck is THIS piece of shit dickmonster?”
And then we get to break it to her: “He’s the President.”
And then she says “Of what? The racist rape enthusiasts club?”
And we’re like “No, Dory. Of the United States of America.”
And she’s like, “Very funny,”
And we’re like, “...”
And she’s like “Wait, what?” and then her eyes start to fill with tears and then he tweets again and
“Hey, who the fuck is THIS piece of shit dickmonster?”
BACK TO ONE, people.
WE’RE GOING AGAIN.
You need to understand that every single time I read a story about an act of violence against a women or girl, or any act of sexual violence against any person, I feel rage.
When I read about Trump’s rape of E. Jean Carroll and Epstein’s serial child abuse, I wanted to mount a flaming steed with my double-headed axe and ride through the halls of power to avenge the thousands of stolen girlhoods, decapitating racists and rapists and “men who like them young,” ruining 10 million dollars in navy blue Men’s Wearhouse suits with hot neck blood and trickling spinal fluid.
Believe me when I tell you that if “mad” could get it done, IT’D BE DONE, SON.
Quick question, though… how many angry women have called Congress so far? How many angry women have written to the New York Times?
Or, rather, how many more do you need, ‘Merica? To fucking do something about this? Give me a number. I’ll rally the girls. You’ll have it by 3 o’clock.
(Spoiler alert: It doesn’t matter how many women are angry.)
When you live in a society that thinks of women as disposable, angry women are like single-serving packets of hot sauce: “Whoo! That’s a-spicy!” (Tosses it in garbage.) “Not gonna do that again!” (Writes down on Congressional call sheet: Spicy lady constituent in favor of Planned Parenthood, DO NOT CALL BACK.) Angry women are treated like something to be avoided, a deterrent, rather than like a screaming symptom of FUCKING PANDEMICALLY SHITTY TREATMENT OF WOMEN. If you think that sauce is too spicy, try having it in your veins.
You need to understand that every time I read a story about violence against a woman or girl, or sexual violence against any person, I feel rage. And then, immediately, the question arrives:
What’s the point?
I stopped believing in the power of my anger in middle school. When I was 12, I knew that getting mad wouldn’t do shit for me except get me ignored or laughed at.
What is the usefulness of my anger in conversations about Donald Trump committing rape?
It will make me feel a little better for a little while, and then much, much worse, when nothing fucking happens and I’m an exhausted ball of used-up feelings, trying not to sink into unwelcome memories. Again.
My anger will not ever force consequences to come to this man. What it will do is cost me. My anger costs me. It’s not like I’m sitting here writing this in a satin dressing gown with a flute of champagne and a Cobb salad while Norah Jones plays softly and from time to time I sit back to look out the window and sigh, thinking, “Ah, but the life. She is beautiful, no?”
I’m sitting in my office in a sweatshirt with the sleeves pushed up to the elbows. My FitBit tells me that my heart rate is 72 beats per minute (my resting heart rate ranges from about 50-55). I wasn’t hungry for dinner because this hot ball of piss and vinegar sat in my stomach like a pre-ulcerous Emergen-C that I swallowed without any water at all.
Rage isn’t a small thing. It costs me sleep and kindness with my children. It costs me hope and faith in strangers. It costs me my memories, many of which I’ve come to view through a newer, sadder lens.
It costs me to decide whether or not now is the time to tell you stories that I don’t like to tell so that you’ll hear that I’m not just mad: I’m FUCKING mad, and this shit is personal.
And I have laid that cost out over and over and over again, because people told me the problem was that they didn’t know what was going on (HERE I said HERE IS THE PROBLEM IT’S HERE WHERE YOU ARE), and then people said oh, but see the problem is that it’s hard for people to understand what it’s like (IT’S LIKE THIS I said IT’S JUST LIKE THIS) and then people said wait but how do you know do you have any experience with this (YES I said ME TOO) and after all that significant outlay I have not seen even a penny back in actual fucking results.
Enough with the myth that enough seriously pissed off people can tenderize a system that hacks through human beings like a lawnmower through blades of grass. You can’t tenderize a lawnmower. It’s working as designed.
The “Get madder or it’s your fault, too” myth is as insulting as the myth that “if you dress modestly and follow the rules, you won’t be sexually assaulted,” or “if you work hard enough, you can pull yourself up by your bootstraps and make it in America.” All of those myths are designed to blame the oppressed for their own oppression, or make them take responsibility for sensing potential violence and avoiding violence. Then when shit goes down, we have a conversation about what she could have done to save herself from violence, which we’ve all basically agreed is inevitable. Is it, though?
Stop complaining about how nobody is complaining enough for you.
If you think that Trump is a racist and we should be talking about it nonstop until someone, somewhere listens, then start fucking talking about it. Don’t talk about how NOBODY is talking about it. That’s a dodge. And it's just a little too close to survivor blaming, honestly.
It sounds just about a half a degree to the left of "If you all would just get MAD about this, then we wouldn't have a rapist in the White House right now." Oh! Oh, oh, oh, OH, is that all I had to do, was get MAD enough about it? Has the justice system spent the last 4 years perfectly poised to sweep the leg on this godforsaken cesspool of an administration and its walking foreskin in chief? Have y’all been standing by a “SCREAM COUNTER” shaking your heads, like, “Ooooh, shoot. We just missed our quarter. Gosh, I wish more women would SCREAM about this guy. If only they’d get a little MADDER we could take the leash off of our efficient, proportional, and not at all for sale system of accountability and put this child-fucker in prison for ever. Well, we did our part...” (insinuation hangs in the air…)
Of course I’m fucking outraged. Of course I am. I’ve been outraged. Problem is, I’ve been outraged in the key of woman, which most decision-makers think of as far too pitchy and really only for other women to listen to. At least I’ve been outraged in the key of white woman, which is distasteful but not perceived as criminal, unlike outrage in the key of black woman, which leads to arrests at the lemonade stand.
Oh, if only I could spend a day outraged in the key of white man. I could get so much shit done and definitely sign a 3-picture deal with Women In Refrigerators Films. But which outraged white man to pick! White man outrage is a Sam Goody factory superstore clearinghouse doorbuster Columbia House Platinum Key Club buffet!
Should I be “But I’m a fancy gentleman schooled in the ways of courtship, you ungrateful whore” outraged?
Or how about “You raped and mutilated my daughter, you foreign bastard. We all watched it happen 71 minutes ago on this very screen, because in the first act, after getting laid off, I was struggling to find my purpose in life. Now I’mma gut you like my Granddaddy taught me to gut a fish on the Mississippi river on the Fourth of July” outraged?
Or there’s always “But I want it now” outraged - a true classic, like French vanilla bean only instead of French vanilla beans it’s made of white male entitlement.
The reality is that you need more than bootstraps to make it here. You need access. You need resources. You need education, and you need to be on the right side of basically all of the demographic lines in the sand - male, white, straight, cis, and able-bodied is best.
The reality is that you need more than anger to bring the thunder to Donald Trump’s doorstep. You need resources. You need education. You need to be on the right side of basically all of the demographic lines in the sand. You know which ones.
I’m angry. I am also weary. I am also, shamefully, unavoidably habituated to reading about the violation of women at the hands of men. I’ve watched A LOT of CSI and SVU and it feels like every episode began with a young, slender, beautiful, blue-lipped girl. In panties, obviously. And white, obviously. That’s why they’re investigating it.
So here’s my question to everyone who’s mad that nobody cares enough about sexual violence against women:
What do you WANT ME TO DO?
What do you imagine is in the power of a regular woman citizen voter to do about Donald Trump the French fried fuckface and his self-made garbage ecosystem of sexual predators, racists, pedophiles, hatemongers, and useful look-the-other-wayers?
WHAT DO YOU WANT ME TO DO?
Want me to call Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell and Nancy Pelosi tell them I hate Donald Trump and I want hearings on the rape allegations, hearings on the Epstein connections, hearing upon hearings and fuck, if you need to keep the ratings up you can subpoena Jennifer Aniston and Angelina Jolie about what went down with Brad back in 2005 because there’s no statute of limitations on CRIMES OF THE HEART, but keep putting these smug pie-faced fuckers in front of cameras so we can all see them lying, obviously lying, sitting guiltily in silence until their lawyers notify the chair that “Mr. Trump needs to go home and wash his hair now,” which, come on, WE ALL KNOW THAT’S A LIE. Want me to make those calls? DONE. DONE AND DONE. AND DONE AGAIN.
Want me to call The White House and press pound, and then 4, and then pound again, and then wait for the beep, and then take a long deep breath and SCREAM LIKE A BANSHEE WITH HER THUMB CRUSHED IN A CAR DOOR into some voicemail box so I can shock some pink-cheeked staffer to #2 incontinence?
(Add your pants to my soiled suiting tab sir. ‘TWAS I THAT DECAPITATED THE HALLS OF POWER WITH RIGHTEOUS FURY. And now, after screaming so loudly that Chad shit his J. Crew outlet slacks, I owe someone, somewhere, 10 million and 47 dollars. 10 million, 47.50 with tax.)
What do you want me to do with my anger? What precisely did you have in mind? Some Carrie-esque performance art with pig’s blood on the capitol steps? What performance would you like me to give to show you that I am angry, that I am in fact an EXPERT in angry, that I have a 35-year-long career in ANGRY and the elementary school disciplinary references to back that shit up. Oh, you thought they were fucking with you when they said “This is going on your permanent record,” but no, dude. NO. They’ve got paper on my shit. I’ve been mad.
“Make your lawmakers call Trump to account.”
“Make your newspapers write about it.”
“Make him stop.”
“Make him feel better.”
“Make sure everyone’s having a good time.”
If I were still 21, I’d agree with you that the failings of other people slash our entire culture are really on me. And because the girl I was at 21 is still in there, I still do, a little bit. But now I’ve got an older, meaner, 35-year-old self who’s waving a finger in the air all “No, no! No no no! I don’t think so!” But see, as I’ve grown up, I have come to realize that the lessons I learned as a girl - that other people’s choices, feelings, and behaviors are my responsibility - are less “lessons” than they are “nonsense” that’s “designed to make me feel responsible when other people do bad things.”
I feel outrage directed at me for not manipulating a situation cleverly enough, or not gutting myself compellingly enough. I feel outrage directed at me for the things that Donald Trump has done, and for multiple system failures when it comes to this sticky-fingered lizard’s continuing impunity.
Do you see that it is not wrong for you to aim your outrage at the people with power who haven’t held Trump to account, but that it is wrong to aim your outrage at people without access and resources, asking them to perform outrage in order to purchase a ticket out of the “I didn’t condemn sexual violence today” detention?
Problem is, that performance won’t do a fucking thing to bring justice to E. Jean or the girls. Problem is, I’m ANGRY in the key of woman, which Donald Trump and his cabinet of beige, shit-filled skinbags can’t even hear, and is a sound to which my own representatives have grown accustomed, like the roar and crackle of white noise that sounds like wood burning.
Anger is not the solution unless the problem is that you’re a voyeur who needs satisfaction. Anger is simply an element of our lives now, like the air we are breathing and yes, anger is the sea in which we are all churning, constantly, to the point that we do not feel it burning our skin anymore. And anger for E. Jean, for the girls whom Epstein abused while shielded from consequences by Donald Trump and his skinbag cronies, comes out like a wail, not a scream. This is a flat-mouthed hopeless rage, and I don’t know what comes after it.
I need you to know that if you don’t see me publicly cut my hair in an expression of grief for Carroll and all the girls, it is not because I do not care; it’s because I’m already shorn to the scalp.
I do know that this is how I have felt since the age when I realized that I wasn’t a person - I was a girl. People were screaming about it then and their daughters are screaming about it now, and I swear to fucking God, it seems like the only goddamn solution is to just throw all the men into the sea of our rage and watch their faces light up in shock at the scorching, brutal heat of it.
“If you cared enough, you could change this,” we’ll tell them as we fix each other’s lipstick.
“A person can’t live like this,” they’ll say. “I feel like I’m going to explode.”
“Wow,” we’ll say, flipping pages in our book club book while we snack on the blackberry-pear tartlets that Janine brought, you must try one, they’re DIVINE.
“WHY ISN’T ANYONE LISTENING TO US,” they’ll scream in the key of man which, whoopsies, sorry pumpkin, we just assume that’s the jingle for the hormone medicine you take when you’re feeling testerical. Then we’ll order sushi or maybe Thai and watch Killing Eve while we go around the room telling each woman there what her unique gifts are and helping her make a 5-point plan to make her dreams realities.
Gosh, that really just seems like the only goddamn solution, doesn’t it?
We could order pizza, too! I don’t care. You pick, babe.
You need to understand that every time I read a story about violence against a woman or girl, or sexual violence against any person, I feel rage.
And then, immediately, the question arrives:
What’s the point?
What’s the point of this post, even?
I started writing it in an effort to put out a quick hip check to the idea that we simply haven’t cared deeply enough, or loudly enough, to hold up our end of the bargain to derail the Trump train. I wanted to let you know that of course our anger exists and that we express it; the problem isn’t our voices, but rather that we are screaming into ears that don’t hear us.
I wanted to agree with you that yes, we must demand that people with the means, resources, access, and platforms continue to try to hold Trump accountable in any way they can - with op-eds, Congressional hearings, super mean/accurate cartoons, boycotts, financial embargoes, and a lot more Alec Baldwin SNL impressions because I don’t care that much about them but they sure seem to piss him off.
And part of me wonders if the journalists and lawmakers whom we’re hoping will save us are, actually, just like us - feeling hopeless, voiceless, furious and useless in their fury, uncertain and wishing they weren’t bound to ethics because dang, that fluffernutting schlong-in-chief sure does win an awful lot when he cheats.
Part of me wonders if this post is my version of “Somebody do something because I’m too small,” just like the articles I decried at the top, the ones that were mad at EVERYONE for not being mad enough. What’s the difference really? I’m mad. You’re mad.
But if mad could get it done, it’d be done, son.
Part of me wonders if this is a season that our country could not avoid weathering. Trump did not invent casual and loathsome misogyny and sexual violence. Epstein did not originate pedophilia and child abuse.
Take the fuckers down, I say. My anger says, has been saying, has been screaming from the churning sea since I first learned to swim.
Don’t worry. I won’t stop. I don’t think I even know how.