Part 2—We can think of a million things: Is Stephanie Clifford, AKA Stormy Daniels, some type of "feminist hero?"
Is she attempting to "share" a "#MeToo story?"
As always, everything's possible! Inevitably, it all depends on what the meaning of "feminist hero" is!
In theory, it will also depend on what turns out to be true about Clifford's interactions with Donald J. Trump, the disordered man with whom she says she had an affair in 2006, when his wife had just given birth to a baby boy, their son.
We know of no reason to doubt Clifford's claim about her affair, which wasn't illegal or even necessarily "wrong," but doesn't seem to have been especially heroic.
Even less heroic, at least on their face, were Clifford's subsequent attempts to discuss this exciting affair in exchange for sacks of cash—in 2011, for example, when she reportedly tried to sell her story to a tabloid entity for $15,000.
To our eye, Clifford didn't look much like a hero back then. Is she a "feminist hero" today? Is she telling a "#MeToo story?"
That's what Nicole Karlis claimed this Sunday morning in an opinion piece Salon. Her argument started with the claim that Clifford might "take Trump down"—and with a peculiar question:
KARLIS (3/18/18): When news broke that adult film star Stephanie Clifford (whose stage name is Stormy Daniels) allegedly had an affair with President Donald Trump in 2006 while he was married to Melania Trump, gasps and glimmers of real hope arrived for many who are utterly exhausted by Trump’s misogyny, racism and bullying. Unlike the many would-be scandals that have followed Trump all the way into the Oval Office, Clifford has a real chance at thwarting Trump’s position of power.Could Stephanie Clifford "take Trump down?" Everything is possible, though most things are unlikely.
Of course, it’s absurd that this would be the thing to take him down, all things considered, but this is America.
As Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., said on MSNBC, “If for some reason [Robert] Mueller does not get him, Stormy will.” And Daniels might be a safer bet than Mueller, at this point. And wouldn’t that be the most perfect ending to a man who has eluded consequences for his misogyny, in public and private, for years? If Clifford, an entrepreneurial, sex-positive woman, swoops in and causes the collapse of the Trump empire, what more could we ask for in the age of #MeToo?
That said, "What more could we ask for in the age of #MeToo?" We can think of a million things, followed by several more!
Surely, Karlis jests! Let's examine the way this fandango looks to her at the new and improved Salon.
Given all that Trump has done, could his relationship with Clifford take him down? Karlis acknowledges the surface absurdity of this idea, "but this is America," she pleasingly tells our tribe.
What is Clifford actually like? We have no real idea. To Karlis, though, Clifford is "entrepeneurial" and "sex positive," full and complete total stop.
She doesn't consider the possibility that Clifford may also be some version of a "money-grubber," not unlike Donald J. Trump. She doesn't consider the possible consequences when a person's "sex positivity" is acted out through the attempt to share her story about all the f**king with the wider world—starting in 2011, when that previously mentioned child is still just 5 years old.
(Donald Trump should have thought about that! So your lizard brain says.)
As we'll see below, we get our lexicography from Karlis herself. First, though, consider the reasoning behind the claim that Stephanie Clifford is telling a #MeToo tale:
KARLIS (continuing directly): Yet, Clifford doesn’t appear to be receiving the support and recognition she should be receiving right now. Feminists (a group I identify with) can rally. We can make noise and create change. This has been shown multiple times since Trump took office. We praise Special Counsel Mueller every time he indicts someone, but why don’t we do the same to Clifford, who’s now crowdfunding her legal fees? She’s asking for help, and we owe it to her.According to Karlis, Clifford is describing a consensual affair—but she's telling a #MeToo story! She's been "silenced," Karlis says—silenced by an agreement to accept a big sack of cash, an agreement which was also completely consensual, as far as anyone knows.
Their alleged affair may have been consensual, but this is Clifford’s #MeToo story, and she deserves the same support of all the other women who have been brave enough to share theirs. She’s been silenced through a $130,000 non-disclosure agreement via Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen—yet another story of unjust abuse of power at a woman’s expense. Her attorney says she's been threatened with physical violence, too.
Karlis does make a fleeting reference to the claim—and so far it's only a claim—that Clifford was "threatened with physical violence" by someone at some point.
If true, would that make this a #MeToo story? It all depends on what the meaning of "#MeToo story" is! It would also depend on who made the threat—and again, on the question of whether the threat really happened.
Karlis has asked what more could we ask for in the age of #MeToo. At this point, we'd have to say we could ask for much, much more thanwhat we're getting here.
Imaginably, morally sensitive people could ask for a feminist hero who didn't go around f**king the newly-married father of a newborn child. Surely, though, we all could ask for someone who doesn't start trying to sell the story of all that f**king when that newborn child in question is only 5.
Not to mention the wife—the wife, who is a woman!
It seems to us that liberals, progressives and feminists could all, imaginably, ask for a lot more than this. Eventually, though, we reach this lament for the insufficiently lionized hero of our tale:
KARLIS: I’d argue that she’s also been ignored by part of the left too, and I think the silence is just as bad as being mocked or hated. I’m at fault for this as well. I haven’t been exactly rallied around Clifford, but I’m here now. As Sady Doyle explained in an article entitled “Stormy Daniels is Not a Punchline” in Elle, “By treating her as trashy or tainted or inherently ridiculous because of her job, we send the message that none of Trump’s flaws are worse than being a ‘porn star.’’This passage ends with Clifford's friend, Kayla Paige, posing a thoughtful question. ”Who hasn't gone and f**ked someone we regret?” the thoughtful assistant asks.
Why has the feminist left been slow to embrace her? Why is there still a mocking undertone when we talk about her? Is it because she’s a Republican? A stripper and adult film star? Is it because of her campy Make America Horny Again tour? Maybe it’s because she allegedly had consensual sex with Trump, an act that’s unthinkable to so many of us? But she was 27, and it was 2006 when the alleged tryst happened. As Clifford’s friend/assistant Kayla Paige said to Rolling Stone, ”Who hasn't gone and f**ked someone we regret?”
Karlis offers this thoughtful question as the soul of wisdom. In doing so, she blows right past the larger problem with the elevation of Clifford to the status of feminist goddess.
There was certainly nothing illegal about f**king the irresistible Donald J. Trump. Beyond that, no one is required to believe that there was something morally wrong with doing so, especially when we realize that Clifford is sex positive.
People do get to f**k whoever they like. There's nothing automatically wrong with that.
The problem starts when people seeking fame and cash find ways to turn our failing political discourse into endless, brain-dead discussions of who's zoomin' who, or who did so in 2006. This is the kind of brain-dead chatter our corporate news channels most like.
An even larger problem involves the desire to seek cash and fame by telling the story of the regrettable fellow you (consensually) f**ked—the decision to humiliate his wife and child by selling your "#MeToo story" about all that consensual f**king.
For reasons only she can explain, Karlis says that she can think of nothing better than this. She can think of nothing better than a bout of consensual f**king, followed by several attempts to turn all the consensual f**king into a big pile of cash.
We can think of many things that are better than that. At any rate, is the person who does that a "feminist hero?" The notion strikes us as so dumb that it defines a powerful ongoing problem:
Our society is on the way to going down in a deeply destructive way. Publications like the new Salon have been a part of this decades-long process.
Tomorrow: The new Salon
Still coming: That visit with Rolling Stone!