She sat there like SHE was the one on trial. All eyes were on her. As she told her story, she appeared clear-eyed, calm, and forthright. The human decency dripped from her. Her eyes were two honest pools; her whole carriage was that of courage.
That didn’t stop the pundits, though — particularly some of the the men. They excoriated her. Is she REALLY telling the truth? Could he have possibly done that to her? After all — perhaps she just wants some attention. Perhaps because he’s SO very famous and considered SO powerful, perhaps she made the whole thing up. Perhaps he did nothing to her, these self-styled pundits who do not know a thing about sexual violence, said on air smugly. Who knows, right? Maybe it’s SHE that is the liar.
Who am I speaking about? Anita Hill. 1991. It wasn’t so long ago, yes? You’d think we’d have made some progress, away from this sort of thing. You’d think.
And yet, years later, in the year 2023, here sits E. Jean Carroll. And the past has collided with the present. Women have, over centuries, been demeaned, sneered at, and dismissed many times when claiming sexual harassment or sexual assault or anything against a man having to do with misogyny and violence.
Hill was a good witness. I don’t doubt everyone reading this likely believes her. About the vile things Clarence Thomas was said to have done to her.
Likely, most believe Carroll. Only perhaps not some of the male pundits — these particular pundits sit there, tongues hanging out, like panting dogs, eager to find SOMETHING — anything — that might paint Carroll as a liar.
Why didn’t she scream, some particularly stupid pundits ask? As if! As if they know ANYTHING — ANYTHING — about the panic that courses through a woman’s body when a man commits an act of savage cruelty.
She seems happy in her life. It didn’t hurt her THAT much, these pundits muse. They analyze her like she’s an insect under a microscope.
To that, I say shut up. These men know nothing. They do not understand smiling through the tears, laughing through the traumatic pain, chuckling even as one’s brain is bathed in misery.
It was 1991 then. And now it’s 2023. Progress yes. But by no means have we come as far as we need to go in the fight for women’s equality..
I think Carroll will win her case. And what will these particular pundits do, then? Shrug it off, most likely, and wait — for the next victim, for the next traumatized soul, where they get to do it all over again.