Daniel’s story expands #metoo conversations, despite not personally identifying with movement
In the past year, the #MeToo movement has brought forth many different stories of sexual assault and coverups by men in power.
Lest we forget the numerous allegations that rose against our own President in the months leading up to and following the election, one story sticks out.
In a much anticipated interview on “60 Minutes,” Stormy Daniels, an adult film star who claims to have had an affair with President Donald Trump, says her story is different.
“This is not a ‘Me Too’ … I was not a victim,’” Stormy Daniels told Anderson Cooper last Sunday night. “I’ve never said I was a victim. I think trying to use me to further someone else’s agenda does horrible damage to people who are true victims.”
After meeting Trump at a golf tournament in 2006, Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, was invited to dinner in his hotel suite.
Over dinner, Trump asked if she would consider participating in his reality show “The Apprentice.”
After dangling this possibility, she excused herself to use the restroom.
When she returned, she says Trump was ‘perched’ on the bed, waiting for her.
She describes what happened next as entirely consensual, although she said she was not attracted or interested in having sex with him.
In the interview, she described what went through her mind leading up to the sexual encounter.
“I just felt like maybe — it was sort of — I had it coming for making a bad decision for going to someone’s room alone,” she explained. “I just heard the voice in my head. ‘Well, you put yourself in a bad situation and bad things happen, so you deserve this.’”
Let me be clear when I say, it is up to anyone to decide for themselves how to feel about an experience like this.
Daniels has the right to decide whether or not she feels personally violated by such propositional behavior.
Her willingness to take responsibility and ownership of her actions and own sexuality is admirable.
That being said, many of the details of the affair and its after-effects bear striking resemblance to those of say, producer Harvey Weinstein.
Daniels was 27 at the time of the affair while Trump was 60.
He used a potential opportunity on “The Apprentice” as a means to illicit sex.
When she made it clear she was not interested in any further sexual relations with Trump, the deal fell through and she was bullied into non-disclosure.
Now, as she speaks out, there is a looming threat of her potentially having to pay Trump $1 million each time she speaks publicly about the affair.
So while she may not claim #MeToo as a victim of sexual assault, the events that followed her sexual relationship with Trump has threatened her career, family, safety and reputation.
Whether she identifies with the movement or not, Daniels’ story expands the #MeToo conversation, as Trump’s intimidation can be viewed as an abuse of power.
#MeToo is a movement of accountability. It calls for the truth to be spoken, no matter the stakes.
It is pushing us, whether male, female or non-binary, to think about how our society has taught us to view sex, gender and power, and how they intersect.
One of the main goals of #MeToo is for such abuse of power to be revealed after years of silence.
In this case, Daniels’ motives and bravery are similar to those speaking out in the #MeToo movement, but are expanding the conversation.
She’s let Trump’s actions speak for themselves as a clear abuse of power, despite her having consented to their sexual encounter.
Erin is a senior studying journalism.