Stormy Daniels and American Women - by Greer Clem
If you didn't watch the Stormy Daniels 60 Minutes interview with Anderson Cooper then you are missing a piece of history. No, I am not exaggerating. This is not fodder for gossip magazines. It is not a Kardashian wedding, something that will be briefly memorialized in magazines and across television screens but ultimately chewed up and thrown out like bubblegum. The Stormy Daniels interview is a glimpse into how our male-run society paints sexual women. More importantly, it is a reflection of where women are in America and where we still have to go.
Back in 2016 when the presidential race was nearing an end, one of the first inklings of fear I had stemmed from the women I encountered who absolutely refused to endorse Hillary Clinton. My own family members, those who come from a more conservative background, balked that they could not support her because she had stood by Bill Clinton after his affair with Monica Lewinsky. They assured me a vote for Hillary was just a masked vote for Bill, and he was an adulterer. Never mind the fact that Hillary's decision to stay with Bill was her decision, or that she no doubt consulted friends and family and made the decision to stay with a man she loved with whom she had a child and a life. No, no. She had been foolish to support him and her continuance to do so was shameful to married women everywhere.
I then realized that what lurked behind this argument was really an apprehensiveness some women have towards women in positions of power. It had not occurred to me that there would be women, countless women, who were not ready for a female president. Within the parameters of my more optimistic generation, I was naively certain that we, women in general, were ready for our moment. We knew a woman could handle the job - hell, women across the world handle more than their fair share every day. This was our time! Glass ceiling! But one of the things I have had to come to terms with over the past year and a half is that many women do not feel ready to shatter these boundaries. They aren't comfortable envisioning a future so strikingly different to their past.
Stormy Daniels knows this. She's not in the business of appealing to conservative women; she has made a life and a name for herself by being provocative. But she also knows that there comes a time to call bullshit on the way we view women versus men in terms of promiscuity. Anderson Cooper remarked that a lot of people were using her story for different angles, to which she replied, "They're trying to. Like, oh, you know, Stormy Daniels comes out #MeToo. This is not a 'Me Too.' I was not a victim. I've never said I was a victim. I think trying to use me too-- to further someone else's agenda, does horrible damage to people who are true victims." The power of this statement both lifts up the #MeToo movement by crediting the strength of survivors and sheds light on the fact that sexual ownership has different consequences for men and women. When a woman owns her sexuality she is promiscuous or manipulative. A man is merely praised as confident. Stormy knows this - she's taken advantage of this female stereotype to make a living and she's not here to claim otherwise. But what Donald Trump has done is to retain the sheen of his masculine confidence all the while denying any wrongdoing whatsoever. To many men snickering behind their hands, engaging in what Trump fondly called "locker room talk," he got away with something great. To many women, he is being framed by a lowly porn star who should have no basis of credibility to begin with. In reality, neither is true.
We can debate the facts of the encounter between Stormy Daniels and Donald Trump until we are blue in the face. There are lawyers who get paid more by the hour than many do in weeks who are trying to discredit both sides. Mueller himself may now be investigating whether Michael Cohen's "personal" payment to Stormy Daniels violated campaign financing laws. But I am here to highlight something else. The GOP, Fox news, Stormy-haters and Trump supporters all have one thing in common: they're all afraid of women in power.
Nothing can make a right-wing male-privileged politician quake in his boots more than female empowerment. Stormy Daniels is proving this via sexual empowerment. Hillary Clinton proved it via political prowess. The #MeToo movement is proving it via stories of survival and conversations about consent. All across our nation women are rising up, leaving conservative men tripping in their dockers as they become relics of a past life. More importantly, women are speaking to each other, breaking down the barriers that separated those fighting for female leadership and those who feared it. And say what you will about Stormy Daniels, to deny her role in this story is to shy away from an important part of the conversation.
Women, especially sexual women, have forever been treated differently from men. Monica Lewinsky recently penned one of the most beautiful and eloquent pieces I have ever read on what it took for her to bounce back and find her identity in the wake of the Clinton scandal. Meanwhile, Bill went back to the Oval office, was still president, still hired for speaking engagements for years to come. I'm not saying his punishment should have been worse just that hers was Guantanamo by comparison. So when I encounter those women who shamed Bill and cast out Hillary, I cannot help but imagine them squirm in the face of Stormy Daniels. And I cannot help but imagine that she enjoys this; she recognizes the paradox.
We are living in the era of confrontation, so let's make it about growth and not division. Let's confront the boundaries within feminine society that prevent us from achieving unified goals instead of letting men dictate a dialogue that divides us. Imagine what we could do together. As the saying goes, hell hath no fury like *women* scorned.