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Trump’s repeated defense against assault accusations: call the accuser unattractive

When the president says E. Jean Carroll is “not my type,” he wants us to think sexual assault is about sex and not power.

Donald Trump Announces His Candidacy For Second Presidential Term
Trump dismisses women who accuse him of assault by saying he doesn’t find them attractive. That’s not what sexual assault is about.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Donald Trump recycled one of his ugliest defenses against an accusation of sexual assault this week, claiming he couldn’t have raped advice columnist E. Jean Carroll in a department store dressing room 20 years ago because “she’s not my type.”

“I’ll say it with great respect: Number one, she’s not my type. Number two, it never happened. It never happened, OK?” Trump told the Hill in an Oval Office interview.

Trump has tried to peddle this idea before. In two other instances, he has conflated sexual attraction with sexual assault in his attempt to discredit accusers.

Jessica Leeds said Trump groped her when they sat next to each other on a plane. “He was like an octopus,” she told the New York Times. “His hands were everywhere.”

Trump’s response: “Believe me, she would not be my first choice,” he said at a rally. “That I can tell you. You don’t know. That would not be my first choice.”

He dismissed reporter Natasha Stoynoff in the same way. Stoynoff said she fought him off after he pinned her against a wall and kissed her on his Florida estate in the 2000s. She was there to interview him and Melania Trump for People magazine about their first year of marriage.

“You take a look. Take a look at her. Look at her words,” Trump said at a rally. “You tell me what you think.”

The remarks are gross, arrogant, and petty. But, more important, they’re an attempt to obscure what the accusations are really about. Trump is not being accused of having consensual affairs with these women. He’s being accused of violence.

In working with sexual offenders, the World Health Organization found that sexual desire isn’t the motivator for sexual violence. “Although sexuality and aggression are involved in all forms of sexual violence, sex is merely the medium used to express various types of non-sexual feelings such as anger and hostility towards women, as well as a need to control, dominate and assert power over them,” according to WHO. “It is rather a violent, aggressive and hostile act used as a means to degrade, dominate, humiliate, terrorize and control women. The hostility, aggression and/or sadism displayed by the perpetrator are intended to threaten the victim’s sense of self.”

In that sense, turning around and calling the accuser unattractive is another attempt to humiliate her. (Carroll brushed off Trump’s attempted dig. “I love that, I am so glad I am not his type. I’m so glad.”)

We know Trump’s view on the idea of abusing women as an expression of entitlement. He’s said it himself. “And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.”