Subscriber OnlyOpinion

Justine McCarthy: At last, women are getting their revenge on Donald Trump

A handful of strong women are proving his biggest obstacle to getting back into the White House. Let’s hope the women who voted for him follow their lead

Donald Trump is correct – E Jean Carroll is not his type. The woman is way out of his league. For one thing, she takes inspiration from literary classics. She named her poodle Lewis, so that its full name was Lewis Carroll. She called her Toyota Prius car Miss Bingley after a protagonist in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and borrowed from Dean Swift for the title of her book, What Do We Need Men For? A Modest Proposal. She has written for the political satire programme Saturday Night Live and for 80,000 readers as an advice columnist with Elle magazine. When her feminist book was published to critical acclaim in 2019, The Atlantic magazine described her as a “beloved and famous writer”.

After an excerpt from it containing the Trump rape allegation was published, he protested that he didn’t even know who she was. Enough said about his lowbrow range. How chilling it is to recall that, at the time of those initial denials, his groping fingers were hovering over the nuclear levers in the White House.

Then there is the way Carroll comports herself. It is easy to imagine how her aura of dignity might test the ego of a crass bonehead who once boasted that his own daughter was so “hot” he would date her himself.

The contrails of the former US president’s private jet, complete with its 24-carat gold fixtures, had barely evaporated from Ireland’s sky after his flash visit last week when a New York jury determined that he had sexually abused the now 79-year-old writer about 30 years ago in a changing room at the Bergdorf Goodman store in Manhattan.


The six male and three female jurors also deemed that Trump, who was commonly known in the 1990s as The Donald, defamed Carroll by rubbishing her allegation that he raped her as “a con job” and a ploy to boost sales of her book. She was the 22nd of 26 women to accuse the big sulky orange man with the not-fooling-anybody comb-over of sexual misconduct.

During his fleeting stop over at his golf club in Doonbeg, Co Clare, where he was entertained by a troupe of child dancers, Trump said he was going back to America to face down Carroll in the courtroom. He didn’t, the coward. Perhaps his lawyers’ swore “over my dead body”, because everyone knows their client is a liar, and not a deft one either. In his book, Fear: Trump in the White House, Bob Woodward quotes the former and would-be-again president as saying: “You’ve got to deny, deny, deny and push back on these women.”

There has been speculation that Carroll’s triumph will not damage Trump’s fortunes in the ballot box. I beg to differ, if only because it highlights what a relict of a bygone age he is

A lovely man I know found a neatly-folded piece of paper in his father’s wallet while sorting his belongings after his funeral. On it, his father had typed the legend that women would only ever be truly equal when they could walk down the street fat, bald, and ugly, and thinking they were irresistible.

Those words never fail to conjure up an image of skin-deep Trump who once decreed that Angelina Jolie’s celebrated looks were “not beauty, by any stretch of the imagination”, that Heidi Klum “sadly, [is] no longer a 10″, that Jessica Chastain was “certainly not hot”, that Rosie O’Donnell was “a big, fat pig”, and that Arianna Huffington was so “unattractive” he could “understand why her former husband left her”. What those women have in common are stellar accomplishments, independent means and DNA etched “not your type, Mr Trump”.

Enormous relief

Many people around the world felt an enormous sense of relief when the former reality TV host was compelled to pack his bags and leave the White House after the 2020 presidential election, following a lethal riot in Washington unleashed on his behalf. After four years of holding our breath, it was as if we could breathe again.

Were he not threatening a repeat performance in the Oval Office, we might still be laughing and saying thanks for the buffoon memories. Alas, Trump-watching is back on the box.

There is a difference this time, though. In 2016, large numbers of female voters in America watched the Access Hollywood tape in which the republican candidate bragged that he, as “a star”, was implicitly licensed to sexually assault women by grabbing their genitalia, and then they went out and voted for him. This time, it is women who are presenting the biggest obstacle to his White House comeback. In America’s criminal courts, fraud charges arising from claims made by a former porn actress, Stormy Daniels, could prove to be a bridge too far for the Republican Party.

In New York’s civil court, Carroll was able to sue Trump under the Adult Survivors Act, a law signed only last year by governor Kathy Hochul. Carroll’s case was strengthened by corroborating evidence given by her female friends during the trial, which the plaintiff has described as the achievement of her septuagenarian self and her five foot three inch attorney, Roberta Kaplan. When gender equality closes in on critical mass, the world can be made a better place.

How E Jean Carroll won her case against Donald Trump

Listen | 23:56

There has been speculation that Carroll’s triumph will not damage Trump’s fortunes in the ballot box. I beg to differ, if only because it highlights what a relict of a bygone age he is, with his ugly sexism and offensive misogyny. The era when it was considered admirable for men to objectify women is dead. It’s with Benny Hill in the grave. Trump’s antiquated attitude makes his octogenarian rival Joe Biden look like a teenager.

In the aftermath of the Carroll case, Trump-watching has assumed the compellability of the fall of the Borgias, with Alec Baldwin replacing Jeremy Irons in the lead role. What is unfolding is not confined to the undoing of one obnoxious male chauvinist. This is about the end of a world order where men such as Trump and Harvey Weinstein made careers out of crushing women’s self-esteem and women suffered them in solitary, isolated silence.

After the trial this week, Carroll said her triumph was for “every woman who has suffered because she was not believed”. Let’s hope its legacy will be that women who voted for Trump the last time will believe in their multifaceted selves the next time. Maybe they will leave their Women for Trump outfits in the wardrobe and march to the polling stations in T-shirts emblazoned: “Not his type”.