“It is my ass,” she declared. “I control it and I'll give it to whomever I want.”
So said a woman named Juana Lopes, while testifying in Santa Fe in 1844. Lopes, a married woman, was defending her right to commit adultery.
Obviously, you wouldn’t want to be her poor husband. But at the same time, it’s hard not to be a bit impressed by her defiant assertion of self and sexuality. If nothing else, Lopes was – in the mid-19th century, no less – a woman willing to steer against the headwinds of convention and expectation.
Stormy Daniels might relate.
If you haven’t seen her Twitter feed, you are missing some of the best free entertainment around. Cheerfully profane and happily irreverent, the stripper and porn actress turned central figure in a salacious presidential scandal dishes out comeuppance like a short order cook to trolls and troglodytes who condemn her by way of defending Donald Trump – aka, President Dumpster Fire.
As even the penguins in Antarctica must know by now, 12 years ago, when he was only Citizen Dumpster Fire, Trump allegedly had a consensual sexual encounter with Daniels. This was just four months after his wife gave birth to his youngest child. “Loutish” and “canine” are words too gentle to describe such behavior, yet Trump’s believers are lavishing their invective on Daniels.
While any woman who dares express an opinion online can expect sexualized insults and threats from anonymous boy men, Trump cultists seem especially exercised that this particular woman, given her particular profession, has dared embarrass the Dear Leader. “Prostitute,” “whore” and “slut” are among their few printable epithets.
Not that she seems to be losing any sleep.
“Prostitutes will do anything for money,” tweeted one individual.
“Bull––!” shot Daniels. “NO amount of money can convince me to do dishes or toilets.”
By USA Today’s count, nearly a score of women are accusing Trump of sexual misbehavior. But Daniels has managed to get under Team Trump’s skin as none of them have. His defenders struggle to explain why one of his lawyers paid her $130,000 to keep quiet if, as he says, the encounter never happened. For that matter, why are they talking about a $20 million lawsuit? Why does her lawyer say she’s been physically threatened? Obviously, this woman terrifies them.
That fear – and loathing – echo in her Twitter feed. “Why,” asks one detractor, “would @real DonaldTrump want to risk infecting himself with venereal diseases harbored by the prostitute third rate porn star @StormyDaniels.”
As if it’s her morality that should trouble us. Granted, few of us would run bragging to the neighbors if a daughter – or son – entered the porn trade. But give her this much credit: Daniels is no hypocrite. One does not, after all, expect virtue from a sex performer. That’s kind of the whole point.
There was, however, a time not long ago when you did expect a simulacrum of it from presidents, lawmakers and people of faith. Now we have a president who injures “the least of these,” who worships the money changers, who bears false witness, who supports the tyrant, the racist and the alleged molester. All while GOP lawmakers make excuses and white evangelicals look the other way, bartering their moral authority for personal and political gain.
Yet some people are mortally affronted by Stormy Daniels. Prostitute, whore and slut, they say. And maybe she is.
But she, at least, is honest about it.
Leonard Pitts Jr., winner of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, is a columnist for the Miami Herald, 3511 N.W. 91 Avenue, Doral, Fla. 33172. Readers may write to him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.