It was a dark and Stormy night….last night, when the highly anticipated Stormy Daniels “60 Minutes” interview about her alleged affair with Donald Trump finally aired. Today, pundits are pontificating on all the questions it raised: Why did Daniels originally deny the affair? Why does Trump regularly use “You remind me of my daughter” as a pick-up line? Who was the thug who threatened her and her infant daughter, telling Daniels to keep her mouth shut about Trump? How much trouble is Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen in for breaking campaign finance laws? And was interviewer Anderson Cooper really as uncomfortable as Alistair Cooke on PBS’s “Masterpiece Theater” would be having to introduce “Debbie Does Dallas”? (This was an actual, unbelievable accusation by legal scholar and professional prude Jonathan Turley on “Morning Joe” this morning. Project much?)
But as sex and relationships writers, the thing that stood out for us the most was the following exchange, after she described going to Trump’s hotel room in 2006, using the rest room, and returning to see him “perched” on the edge of the bed:
Anderson Cooper: And when you saw that, what went through your mind?
Stormy Daniels: I realized exactly what I’d gotten myself into. [laughs] And I was like, “Ugh [deep breath] here we go.” [laughs] And I just felt like maybe [laughs] it was sort of— I had it coming for making a bad decision for going to someone’s room alone. And I just heard the voice in my head, “Well, you put yourself in a bad situation and bad things happen, so you deserve this.”
Anderson Cooper: And you had sex with him?
Stormy Daniels: Yes.
Anderson Cooper: You were 27, he was 60. Were you physically attracted to him?
Stormy Daniels: No.
Anderson Cooper: Not at all?
Stormy Daniels: No.
Anderson Cooper: Did you want to have sex with him?
Stormy Daniels: No. But I didn’t— I didn’t say no. I’m not a victim, I’m not—
Anderson Cooper: It was entirely consensual.
Stormy Daniels: Oh, yes, yes.
Anderson Cooper: You work in an industry where condom use is— is an issue. Did— did he use a condom?
Stormy Daniels: No.
Anderson Cooper: Did you ask him to?
Stormy Daniels: No. I honestly didn’t say anything.
How does this bum us out? Let us count the ways!
She does say earlier that Trump dangled the the possibility of him getting her on “The Apprentice” like a little seduction carrot. And she also explains that, after their initial tryst, when he gave her updates on his progress with the show’s producers, she did think of their relationship at that point as a business deal. However, she gives every impression (or at least the edit of the interview gives the impression) that during their first encounter she didn’t take Trump’s show suggestion seriously; she didn’t think it was a realistic possibility that first night in the hotel room. So, it would seem, there was nothing on the line.
Add to that the facts that she was not at all attracted to him and she did not want to have sex with him.
Which begs the question — the one that all the pundits should really be asking today — WHY DID SHE HAVE SEX WITH HIM????
Her explanation of why is what feminist nightmares are made of: Going to someone’s hotel room alone automatically means you must have sex with them if they want to have sex with you — even if you don’t want to. Somewhere Gloria Steinem is weeping.
It doesn’t matter how much you’ve flirted, if you’re known for sexual bodaciousness and exhibitionism, or whether you’ve gone somewhere alone with someone — if you don’t want to have sex, you don’t have to have it!
And then there’s the issue of the condom — or rather, the lack thereof. Studies show that adult film industry performers have a high burden of STIs. But at least many of them get tested regularly. Who knows how often old-fashioned 60-year-old business men who refer to women as “honey bunch” get tested for STIs, but we’re guessing not very. Daniels should have demanded condom-use with someone she’d just met, if not for herself, then for the safety of her colleagues. (We can’t say the same for Trump because at this point we know all to well that nothing good, responsible or wise can be expected from him.)
Perhaps the saddest line in the above exchange is “I honestly didn’t say anything.” The suggestion being that not only did she not ask him about protection, but she didn’t express her reservations or talk about her own desires (including turn ons and turn offs). Basically, she didn’t employ one of the most important tools necessary fo healthy, pleasurable sex: communication.
We would have thought — or at least we would have hoped — that someone in the adult film industry would have had a more sex-positive approach to a private interlude, would have been more assertive and pleasure-focused. But perhaps making a living performing erotic acts publicly has warped her view of private sex: it’s just not that big a deal, it should be given out of pity or guilt for leading someone on, it’s transactional (maybe she was holding out hope for a spot on “The Apprentice” that evening), it’s performative rather than participatory.
The above exchange on “60 Minutes” doesn’t do any favors for those who argue in favor of the benefits of porn. When one of the biggest stars in the adult film industry feels like she has to have sex with someone she doesn’t want to for free, there’s something seriously wrong.