Backtalk: The Hideous Man Who Became President

This week, Dahlia and Amy discuss E. Jean Carroll’s cover story for New York magazine about all of the hideous men from her life. Through her piercing and frank prose, Carroll shares an account of sexual assault at the small hands of Trump. How will this latest accusation against Trump affect his presidency—if at all? In our latest “frivolous” argument, Amy and Dahlia want to know what you think of the 90’s comeback in fashion! Text “fashion” to 503-855-6485 to let us know! 


Get your queues ready: Moonlight is on Netflix! Watch it again or for the first time but don’t miss this beautiful film, so full of longing, about the life of a young gay Black man as he grapples with his sexuality and identity. 


The Third Hotel by Laura van den Berg is a lively and summer-perfect tale of ghosts, Cuba, horror films, and marriage.


FKA Twigs’s song “Cellophane” is so sad and lovely. Check out the music video to see how strong she truly is.

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DAHLIA: Hey, Backtalk friends. It’s Dahlia. One of my favorite things about hosting Backtalk is getting to share new pop culture picks that Amy and I are truly excited about. One book I can’t wait to read this summer is I Like to Watch: Arguing My Way Through the TV Revolution by Emily Nussbaum, featuring essays about TV shows from Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Vanderpump Rules. Seriously, I’m dying to read it. Find your next great read at
[theme music]
AMY: Hi. Welcome to Backtalk, the feminist response to pop culture podcast. I’m Amy Lam.
DAHLIA: I’m Dahlia Balcazar.
AMY: And we start each episode by talking about our favorite pop culture moment. What is yours, Dahlia?
DAHLIA: I have watched this clip I can’t even tell you how many times. It fills me with so much happiness. I hope it does the same for you. This is a clip from Seth Meyers talking with Rihanna. They are drinking together at a bar, and Seth Meyers actually falls out of his chair when Rihanna says what she says. And please listen and enjoy.
BOTH: [Laugh.]
SETH MEYERS: [recorded clip plays] I want to blow my wife away with like a romantic night out. What do I do?
RIHANNA: You said it.
SETH: What?
[Pause, then audience laughs.]
RIHANNA: [Cracking up.] Blow your wife.
[Audience erupts in laughter and applause.]
SETH: Ugh! This is a network television show!
DAHLIA: Rihanna’s saying, “Is it?” at the end, she’s so funny. I had no idea she was so funny, and I can’t get over this clip. What a delight and what a treat. And what a treasure Rihanna is to the entire world.
AMY: That is such a great clip. And I haven’t seen the entire segment, but I’m really looking forward to it because, like you’re saying, Rihanna is such a treasure for us, something that we get to go look at. And she’s just always so stunning and so self-aware, I think, in her pop stardom. And also, making some great shit for us to buy. [Laughs.] So, yes. I fully endorse your pop culture moment.
My pop culture moment of today or this week is are birds. [Laughs.] I didn’t know how else to introduce it! But in the past few years, I’ve been more into nature stuff. I don’t know how else to explain this but to say that as a kid growing up, I just didn’t like doing anything outside. I was really one to prefer to stay inside and watch TV all day or play video games. But just recently in the past few years, I’ve been more into learning about nature, learning about names of plants and trees and about birds and even listening to bird calls and just recognizing how beautiful they are. And recently, I’ve just been really into this type of bird called tanagers. I think that’s how you pronounce it. And there are so many different varieties of them. I really want to shout out the paradise tanager.
DAHLIA: [Laughs.]
AMY: Gorgeous. So beautiful. Google it. You’re gonna send me, you’re gonna Venmo me money after you realize what a beautiful bird I’ve exposed you. The paradise tanager is gorgeous. I’m also really into the painter tanager or the true painter. Beautiful fucking birds. These birds are indigenous, I think, to the Amazon, so I’ll never probably see one in real life. But just looking at these images just floor me. I can’t believe that nature made these birds, and they’re so perfect and so gorgeous.
And then on the flip side of that I learned about another bird this week called the shoebill stork. Oh my God! This bird is hideous. [Laughing.] And I don’t wanna be birdshaming, but this bird is so scary. And I’ve seen videos of this bird and pictures of the bird. I think this bird is about like three-feet tall, and it’s just the most-scary looking bird I’ve ever seen in my life. Google and YouTube this bird.
DAHLIA: Yeah, I’m looking at it.
AMY: Yes! The shoebill stork is like the bird of my nightmares. So, my pop culture moment this week are birds! [Laughs.]
But also to say that I’m trying to enrich myself and understand more about things about the natural world. Because it’s just so fascinating, and it’s just like it’s something that I’ve just not been connected to before. And I’m so glad I’m coming around to that at this point in my life.
[cutesy bells ring]
I really wanna thank our listeners for coming through and dropping some rates and reviews for us on iTunes. Thank you guys so much. We got a few reviews, but I did wanna highlight two of them. And one of them is a two-star review. [Laughs.] I mean we don’t often get like— I’m sure we get ratings that are less than five stars, but we often don’t get reviews with the lower ratings. So, I did wanna take this time to read it ’cause I’m a firm believer in constructive criticism. And the subject of this two-star review is, “I’ve tried.” [Laughing.] Which sounds like person was very tired!
AMY: But they say, “I think I’m just not the market for this podcast, though I wish it were more inclusive. Giggling hosts, magic wand noises, arguing over random frivolous issues. I just can’t. Clearly this appeals to many, and I’m glad it exists for those folks. But I find this feminist life agenda disengaging and inauthentic, not to mention uninspiring and dumbed down! I wish more for our movement.” Wow! [Laughs.]
AMY: Yeah, so harsh. I didn’t want to read this because I didn’t want to say that I understand that like me because we giggle a lot or we argue over frivolous things, that it may seem like we are “disengaging and inauthentic.” But I did want to say that being a feminist, especially in this moment in time, doesn’t mean that we just have to be super stern and be very serious all the time. I think that if anything—I don’t want to speak for Dahlia—but I do think that like we want to add levity to the things that we’re talking about and to the way we live our lives. I personally cannot be pissed off 24/7 because that would make me really unhealthy, especially with my mental health. I need to add levity to my day, and I think that that’s the thing that we try to do on Backtalk, is that we try to add levity to your day by talking about really serious, terrible, fucked up shit but alongside of silly things. Because I think that’s how you’re able to live a balanced life. But I do want to thank this person for trying to listen to us giggle. [Laughs.] And I’m sorry that this podcast is not for them. I do appreciate that they left us two stars in acknowledgement that this is for somebody but just not for them.
DAHLIA: Mmhmm.
AMY: [Chuckles.] And then I also wanted to read a review that’s titled, “Feminist cheering.” And they say, “I really enjoy listening to this podcast especially after a long day of people telling me to ‘calm down’ after my passion-filled feminist rants about the injustices of the world. I also listen to them as a stress reliever. It’s what got me through high school finals week.” Congrats.
DAHLIA: Aw! Thanks!
AMY: I know! “It makes me feel less alone my beliefs. Thank you, Amy and Dahlia.” No, thank you.
DAHLIA: Thank you.
AMY: But also it’s just amazing to we hear that we are a stress reliever ‘cause I would think that we’re stress-inducing ‘cause we’re telling you about shitty stuff that’s happening in the world. But thank you for that review. We really appreciate it.
DAHLIA: And you know, exactly for that reason, I think we try to do a mix of, I mean especially in this episode, we’re going to be talking about really serious stuff. And I think, just like you’re saying, it’s hard for— I mean certainly, we could be very serious and very stern because there’s a lot of fucked up stuff in the world, and we try to talk about it a lot on this show. But we try to do a little bit of a mix so it’s not like a real downer on your commuter as you’re studying for your finals. And I think it is the case that we do the levity upfront, but you know, I like to think it’s like a chat with your friends. And hopefully, your friends aren’t always being very severe with you even though it is a very severe world that we live in.
AMY: Exactly. But like I said, we appreciate any and all feedback, even if its two stars! [Laughs.] So, if you wanna take the time to tell us how we’re not for you, or if we are for you and are a stress reliever, please head to iTunes and leave a rating and a review. It really helps us with our visibility and so that we can get more listeners to like or not like us.
BOTH: [Chuckle.]
[cutesy bells ring]
DAHLIA: One of the fun things we do on this show is argue about something. And I think in the course of our arguments, they’ve ranged from Golden Girls arguments to food arguments. I’ve been thinking about all of our arguments this year. I can’t wait to collect them at the end of the year and see who has won the most of them.
AMY: Oh no.
BOTH: [Laughs.]
DAHLIA: But it is almost the end of June, and June is Pride month. And in our last episode we were talking about different ways that people co-opt pride. I was talking about, my argument was that the worst co-opting of Pride is this horrible Straight Pride parade that was going to happen in Boston. And Amy was arguing that the worst is how brands take Pride and use it to sell you bullshit. And even as it was happening, I knew Amy was going to win.
AMY: [Laughs.]
DAHLIA: And in fact, congratulations, Amy! You have won. Brand bullshit is the worst co-opting of Pride.
AMY: Yay! And I do wanna thank the folks that voted and left some amazing comments. I think that I am not only buttressed by the fact that you guys vote but that you guys give us your thoughts. Some of the great comments that I got for about brand bullshit was that somebody said, “Capitalism nearly always takes the cake when it comes to evil.” True.
DAHLIA: Oh, true.
AMY: [Laughs.] Somebody else says, “Capitalism gobbling up niche identity groups for money is always gross but especially so when it’s a group who is in active danger constantly and would benefit from public allyship all year long. Fuck companies that pretend to care about folks in danger all June to move their rainbow merch and never actually put all their money made on the backs of the endangered where their big fat mouth is.” Yes!
AMY: But then there were also some great comments in support of Straight Pride being the worst part about it. This one comment said, “Mark Sahady, who was one of the organizers of the Straight Pride Parade is a known white supremist.”
BOTH: Supremacist.
AMY: [Laughs.] “It’s worse than trolls. The Straight Pride Parade is being organized by extremely violent alt-right group.” And then somebody else also pointed out that, “Even though brand bullshit can be sucky, it makes me feel seen. Ten years ago, the only place I could buy rainbow merch was at Hot Topic. Now I can take the kids to Target, and it normalizes who we are in a million ways. It’s still beneficial even when they don’t pay out. Straight Pride benefits no one in any way.” So, thank you guys so much for those comments. Those were amazing, and we love to hear your thoughts.
DAHLIA: Well, we have a new argument this week, and frankly, I am very surprised by the side that Amy is taking on this.
AMY: [Laughs.]
DAHLIA: We’re gonna argue about the comeback of ’90s fashion. I live across the street from an Urban Outfitters, and every time I’ve been bored, I’ve been like, OK. I’ll just see what’s up in Urban Outfitters. And what’s up is that the ’90s are back. And I knew this was happening. I didn’t just realize that. But everywhere there’s little tiny sunglasses, strange pants, overalls, just this general sort of like a Clueless—the movie Clueless—aesthetic. And we’re gonna argue is this good, or is this bad. And [chuckles] firmly, I feel like this is bad.
And I just, you know, I’m…I think maybe this is a personal thing. Maybe my argument is very personal. But I was alive in the ’90s, and I was making all of these same frosted eye shadow, Claire’s jewelry, daisies on my overalls, I was making all of those choices in the ’90s. And listen, kids! I have lived to regret them. I regret my tiny eyeglasses, my tiny sunglasses. I feel just so firmly, the ’90s were an incredible time in pop culture: so much cool music and movies, everything. But! Oh, man. That was just like everyone looked really, really bad.
AMY: [Laughs.]
DAHLIA: And I don’t know why the kids today, like Kendall Jenner, I don’t know why the kids today don’t understand that they’re gonna— I mean, I guess they’re rich, and so they have like really cool versions of tiny sunglasses. Whereas I got them, like I said at Claire’s or maybe at Hot Topic. But I just don’t think it looks good. I remember the ’90s, and they were a troubling time in fashion. And I do not think we should go back, and I can’t understand. I don’t understand. But I guess, Amy, you understand.
AMY: Well, I am worried about you because much of your argument is founded on your dislike of these tiny sunglasses. [Laughs.]
DAHLIA: That’s the main thing! Isn’t that the main? Okay. I mean yes, you’re right. And maybe you’ve already exposed the main flaw in my argument is that it is. You know why? It’s ’cause I have a picture of myself that I can’t stop thinking about with like— Oh my god. When I was 13, I cut all my hair off, and I spiked it up with gel because I was like, this is cool! And then I wore those tiny sunglasses and all these chokers, and that’s how I used to dress. And I have this picture of myself in my head. You’ve exposed my weakness. Yes, I’m just very embarrassed about this one photo. Amy, you can make your excellent argument now.
AMY: My argument is that I love florals ’cause I think a lot of my passion in florals. And I love daisies. I love big prints. I love Back to the Future 2. I love Clueless, like you mentioned. I loved Clarissa Explains It All from Nickelodeon.
DAHLIA: Ugh, yeah.
AMY: I love a lot of this ’90s shit. It’s just so much fun, and I think a lot of the resurgence of the ’90s fashion is it’s fun and doesn’t take itself too seriously. And much like you, I also grew up in the ’90s, so I think it’s also fun for people like us who grew up then, who didn’t make those mistakes [laughing] like you did, I guess!
DAHLIA: [Guffaws.]
AMY: But also, not to be a downer, but I also grew up at a time where I couldn’t afford or I wasn’t allowed to buy the trend pieces ‘cause my family just were working-class folks. And my parents were like, what the fuck? You’re not allowed to wear stuff like this. [Laughs.] So, I wasn’t allowed to explore these trends at that time, and now I can. So, I think for folks like us, it’s fun to revisit that. But I could also understand where you’re coming from, where you already did it once, and it wasn’t fun. And it wasn’t cute, [laughing] in your instance, perhaps!
DAHLIA: Well, I guess it was fun, and now I’m like, kids. Just say no to fun. You’re gonna regret it.
AMY: But you know, fashion is cyclical, and so it makes sense that this is happening in this way. I’m not looking forward to the oughts fashion coming back, like a ton of fleece or whatever and cargo pants. Fuck that. [Laughs.]
DAHLIA: Oh no. Cargo pants.
AMY: But I am into this fashion, this ’90s fashion resurgence. I think is super fun, and it’s chic. And it’s also perfectly timed for summertime ‘cause I think ’90s fashion was so good for summertime clothes. So, that’s my choice. I think that ’90s fashion, the resurgence of it, is perfect and gorgeous, and I want it to be around forever.
DAHLIA: Please let us know what you think about ’90s fashion. Text the word “fashion” to 503-855-6485 to let us know what you think. And! Special perk: if you text us, there may or may not be a surprise coming your way of a photo of one or both of us all ’90s-ed out. It might involve tiny sunglasses. It might involve weird gel-spiked hair. I might do that for you, our Backtalk audience if you vote in this poll. I’m so eager to hear your thoughts, so text “fashion” to 503-855-6485, and let the tiny sunglasses commence.
AMY: [Chuckles.]
[cutesy bells ring]
Last week, The Cut, which is a part of New York Magazine, published an excerpt of E. Jean Carroll’s forthcoming book. What Do We Need Men For?: A Modest Proposal. Great title. [Chuckles.]
AMY: The excerpt that was published is framed to be about like the “hideous men” and E. Jean’s life that she had encountered. So, it’s essentially an essay about abuse and assault during a time when girls and young women—so, in this case for E. Jean Carroll, white girls and young white women—who came of age during the mid-century and began their careers in the ’70s and continued working through the ’80s and ’90s and how they were culturally living in a world of boys will be boys. I mean I think we’re still living in that world, but I think it was way more so then. Where men’s fucked up behavior was swept under the rug because women felt powerless, and their trauma was treated as a fact of life.
In E. Jean’s piece she really illuminates how much attitudes have changed for women, especially from just a couple of decades ago to now, where the #MeToo movement have empowered women to speak out. In her piece, there are two allegations that point to infamous men like Les Moonves, who was the CEO of CBS. And he was forced to resign last year after there were numerous sexual assault and abuse allegations that came out against him. And then there’s the story of how, a story in the piece of how, Trump raped E. Jean Carroll in the dressing room at a high-end department store.
The reaction to E. Jean’s piece is a mix of emotions for me, personally. I’m furious. I’m heartbroken. I feel defeated, in a way, to think that the sitting president of the United States has been accused of rape. Again. And it feels like it won’t be in the news cycle a couple of weeks from now. So, we wanted to talk about the piece and what it means to the #MeToo movement and how it might reflect on a culture where a current president has been accused once again, and it feels like a blip.
DAHLIA: We should say also we’re recording this before the Democratic debates that are happening this week. So, if they talk about it then or if more comes out, we won’t know about that yet. But as of now, E. Jean Carroll is the 22nd woman to accuse President Trump of sexual misconduct on the record. And that’s just like, that number to me, it’s astronomical. And I saw this. This is a cover story for New York Magazine, which is such a great magazine. And they also did a cover story, a really incredible, really famous cover story of the accusers against Bill Cosby a few years ago, really powerful, very similar. The second it came out, I saw it everywhere on the Internet. And the piece is so good, and I can’t wait to read the book. But also something, from a technical writer standpoint, the piece is in the present tense, and that makes it just like so scary and powerful. I was just really, really struck reading it by how scary this scene is that scribes.
And if you’re not familiar with E. Jean Carroll’s work, she is a writer and a journalist. She’s been an advice columnist at Elle for many years. And this rape that she describes happened in the ’90s, and this is the first time that she is writing or talking about it. And man. I mean I really feel like I’m echoing what you said, Amy. It really does feel kind of defeating in this way. I guess there’s like…. You know, on one hand, I’m really glad that this piece is out there. This book seems incredible. And also, I think it reiterates and it shows us this book is about all of these hideous men that this woman has encountered in her life. And I think a big point in that title in this collection is that women encounter hideous men like this throughout their lives. This book isn’t just about this horrific encounter with Trump or this encounter with Les. It’s about the horrific men that she has encountered again and again in her career and her personal life.
And as powerful as it is to hear a powerful and established woman talk about things like this, it also feels sad and defeating to know that like, yes, this is happening. And yes, it happened again. And this is the 22 woman on the record, and Trump has already, and is going to continue to be, like, “That’s just lies. That didn’t happen,” and brush it off. Whereas, absolutely if this was any other president, this would be front page news forever.
AMY: Yeah. Forever. Until that president was impeached or there was a huge congressional case about this. But honestly, I mean in the way this news cycles is working, it feels like a blip. I mean people are talking about it, but it’s you know what? Maybe what might encapsulate this feeling the most is actually, I saw this clip of Elizabeth Warren reacting to this. And maybe we should just play it. ’Cause I think that her reaction to this news really encapsulate the despair. Somebody had interviewed her, just a reporter, while she’s standing there and asked her how she responds to this. And Elizabeth Warren just says, “We know Donald Trump’s character, and it’s revealed every single day. There aren’t any real surprises here other than the details.”
AMY: Yeah. So, I think that like, and this is like somebody who’s campaigning to be president, and she’s saying this. Even she, you can feel the despair of her even just saying this.
And I think that another thing about E. Jean Carroll’s story that you’ve mentioned is that she’s like a very smart and savvy woman. She’s in her mid-70s. She’s been around. She has a lot of experience. And it’s only just now that she felt emboldened enough to come out and talk about this. And I think if you read her work and you read her advice column, you get this feeling that she’s just a very confident person. And she’s also a person who comes from privilege. And she has all of this in her background, and she still didn’t feel the agency or the need to report all these various abuses that had happened to her because culturally, we still live in a very misogynistic world where her word didn’t mean much. I think that like that’s one of the themes of her piece.
I actually do wanna play this clip of her when she was on MSNBC talking about the piece. And  this clip is heartbreaking because she’s talking about how she had believed that this rape was her fault for all these years. And the reason why it’s so bizarre is because she believed that, but yet she had been an advice columnist for all these decades, constantly and frequently telling women that it’s not their fault when men harass or abuse them, you know. And so, I think that this piece is really enlightening to show how misogyny works and how it gaslights you and how we internalize misogyny so that, in a way, it strips us of our own agency.
E. JEAN CARROLL: [Recorded clip plays] I felt the situation at Bergdorf’s was my fault. I blame myself for that. I said I am the stupidest woman who’s ever walked. And I did that for years. And it took my Ask E. Jean, the letter writers who would write into my column, Dear E. Jean, and they would write and say, “My boss is harassing me. What do I do? Do I go forward? Dear E. Jean, my husband, if I don’t serve him the meal he wants, he gets mad at me.” And I would say over and over, “It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault. You’re not stupid. You’re doing right,” you know? I was just saying this to all these women for all these years, and I never came forward and said, “I understand.” And I still can’t kick that feeling that it was my fault. I can’t. It’s hard to get rid of that.
DAHLIA: Yeah. That fits so well with something that I was thinking reading this piece, which is, like I said, it’s so incredibly written, but it’s also really difficult to read. And something that stands out to me is written into her own account is so much self-doubt. She says like, “I was laughing. Why was I laughing while this happened? How did I get out? I don’t know how I got out. Why did I do this? I don’t know!”
And that reminds me so much of so many people recounting their stories of abuse, and they’re having to doubt their own physical bodily reactions to an emergency, not being able to recall what happened in an emergency, and then the way that fills you with all this doubt, the way that makes you feel like, oh, I was laughing. Maybe he didn’t know it was bad. Just like all of the ways in which your own reaction to what is a dangerous emergency makes you betray your confidence in the righteousness of your actions. And I think it is an incredible piece of writing because you can see how much that is built in. Even all of these years later, that’s the same feelings of like, why did I do this? Does that make it my fault?
AMY: Yeah. And I think that’s what’s fascinating about this piece is when you read it, there’s a confidence in the writing and in the prose and in the voice. You understand that like E. Jean Carroll as a narrator is somebody you can trust, is somebody that you would follow, is somebody who you would go places with. And when you go places with E. Jean Carroll, you feel like you know exactly where she is going. And then she will take you there, and she knows exactly what she’s doing. So, there’s confidence in the voice, and so I think that’s why the piece is so unsettling. Because even knowing that she knows exactly where she’s going, you know that she’s strong and she’s smart and she’s confident, she’s still enduring all of this. And she’s enduring it in a way that confuses her, even with her confidence.
Because she describes another incidence when she was at the University of Indiana where this other college student takes her for a drive in his car, and he tries to assault her. I mean he does assault her to an extent, and then but she’s able to flee. But while this assault is happening, he takes out a knife, and he threatens her with it. And she writes an aside about how like she knows a thing or two about knives because she was a Girl Scout, and she was given awards for how well her knowledge of knives or something. But I was just sitting there thinking about I think that everything that she writes, she’s specifically telling us, this is the confidence that she’s coming with, and yet she had to surrender parts of herself to these men. Because regardless of how much confidence that she had, regardless of what background she came from, regardless of her social standing, these men were still able to take her down. And I think that that says a lot. And I think that says a lot for her to be able to tell the story so boldly and without…. I think there’s also a sense of even if she is questioning her reaction to it, I don’t think she’s asking us for pity as a reader. I think she’s just telling it to us straight: like this happened, and I’m telling you how it happened. And this is why my book is called What Do We Need Men For? Because they’re all hideous [laughing] and awful.
AMY: And I think that’s why the tone of the piece is so arresting. Because you feel like this is a strong woman. This happened to her, and even she was unable to tell people besides two very close friends: one who told her to report it and one who told her to not report it because, “Trump has 200 lawyers, and he’s going to take you down.” And I think that all of those small, salient details really do go to support why somebody like her wouldn’t say a thing about this.
And so, that’s like on the micro level of her experience. But then you think of it more largely, and it’s like, wow, this person who raped E. Jean Carroll is the sitting president of the United States of America, and this is barely a story. And not only is it barely a story, but you also think ‘cause at the beginning of E. Jean Carroll’s piece, she also says that part of her is reluctant to share this, not so much because she’s having to share a trauma but because she thinks that it’ll make Trump’s supporters like Trump even more. Which floored me because I think she’s so tapped into what Trump supporters like about Trump, and it’s so egregious. But this is something that I think we can believe about Trump supporters: that not only do they not care that he’s a fucking sexual predator, but that they think that that’s something to look up to.
DAHLIA: And Trump has given a statement that is just like ppbbbhh. I’m looking at it. It’s so ridiculous. You know, of course, denying it. But here’s like the first two sentences of his statement. “Regarding the story by E. Jean Carroll claiming she once encountered me at a Bergdorf Goodman 23 years ago, I’ve never met this person in my life.” And I should say that alongside this piece that has been published at New York magazine is a photo of E. Jean Carroll and Donald Trump talking at a party. So, it’s like I mean I don’t know. This isn’t a surprise. I don’t even know why I’m saying so. But the way that he lies is just, I mean, I guess, like you’re saying, it’s hard to wrap your mind around what it is that his base likes about him. But I think that E. Jean Carroll’s right: it’s that he’s a bully. It’s that he’s bad. It’s that he is a hideous man. That is what his base likes about him. And the way that he can just lie, ugh! I don’t know. I know we’ve said this so many times, but it’s like the truth is right here. The truth is here is a photograph of the two of them talking. And he can just say, “No, I’ve never met her.” Period the end.
AMY: I mean that’s just another example of how Trump lives in this alternative-facts reality. Even when we’re presented with photographic evidence of them having met, he feels emboldened to be able to say something like that. I’m not surprised because his entire life and his career has been based on silencing other people and silencing news about him so that negative press isn’t reported about him. And I mean are either of us surprised that he came out and says that he doesn’t know her, that he’s ever met her even though there’s a fucking picture of the meeting? I’m just…I’m speechless, mostly.
But one of the things I did want to say about this piece is also how artfully she—I mean it’s really well-written—but the other artful thing about this piece is how she never once says Trump’s name.
DAHLIA: Mmhmm.
AMY: ‘Cause I remember as I was reading this, I’m like, oh, I don’t think she says it. And then I went back through the piece and did a control F to see if it does say Trump. But she doesn’t. And I think that’s another artful way in which she acknowledges him but without giving him that, I don’t know, that second thrill of seeing his name alongside hers.
DAHLIA: Something that I think is both really interesting and sort of devastatingly familiar I think is that early in the piece, E. Jean Carroll sort of describes what this list is: this most hideous men of my life list. And she writes, “It’s a list of the 21 most revolting scoundrels I’ve ever met. I started it in October 2017, the day Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey published their Harvey Weinstein bombshells in the New York Times. As the riotous, sickening stories of #MeToo surged across the country, I, like many women, could not help but be reminded of certain men in my own life.” And that part, this list of hideous men, you know, I think something that is so devastating about this piece and even just this concept is that so many, you know, I would say every person, certainly every woman I know, so many people I know have this same list in their head. And maybe the president isn’t on it, but I think everybody has a list, from childhood to adulthood, boys and men who did hideous things to you, to your friends, to people that you know.
I think everybody has this list, and I think that’s something that is so chilling, is not only does this list, as she says in the piece, like it starts, the earliest entry on this list is something that happened when she was just a child. And I think it’s powerful and chilling to think does everyone have this experience? Does everyone have a list of boys and men who have hurt them in intimate and really terrible ways? And I think that the answer is fucking yes, you know? And that is, it’s heartbreaking, like you said at the beginning. It’s heartbreaking. It’s devastating to think that so many people, probably everyone you know, is walking around with this list in their head of the people who have, men, of the men who have hurt them. And so often, as she lays out in this piece, those men, those boys grow up to be—now I’m thinking of Big Little Lies—those boys grow up to be men who are still hurting people.
[cutesy bells ring]
AMY: And now we will let you know our read, watch, and listen recommendations. Dahlia, you have a read recommendation. What is it?
DAHLIA: I love this book. I want to recommend The Third Hotel by Laura van den Berg. I had the really lovely experience of having multiple people telling me, “I just read this book!” And I feel like, did you write this book? And like, oh my god, I wish. But it’s so, I love it so much, and it’s like so many of my interests. In the third hotel, it follows a woman named Claire who travels to Cuba to attend a Latin American Film Festival. And she finds her husband there in Cuba, but trouble is that her husband is dead. And so, it’s this really fascinating, it’s a really lively novel, sort of light magical realism in the streets of Havana. There’s ghosts. Her husband is a horror film scholar. And so, it’s just like everything that I love: ghosts and horror films and traveling in Cuba. I loved it. And Amy, you liked it too, yeah?
AMY: Well, yeah. I just started it, so I’m about, I want to say, 50 pages in. And I was one of those friends that was just like, “Hey, I’m reading this book! I think you might like it.” And you’re like, “Yeah, I read it.” [Laughs.]
DAHLIA: Yeah, I read it. I loved it. Did you love it? Yeah. It’s so good.
AMY: Yeah. It’s so good. And it’s just like I think it’s a lot about haunting and grief so far, as it’s going. And I just love that there’s this setting of a place that I’ve never been to, and I could just feel the heat of the place but also feel the narrator trying to wrestle with what she thinks she’s seeing. So, I really can’t wait to finish this to see what it is. But yeah, I am seconding your recommendation for The Third Hotel.
And I have the watch recommendation, and I just wanna alert everybody…that Moonlight is on Netflix. So, I had already seen Moonlight, but it is such a beautiful fucking film! I literally gasped when I saw it on Netflix last night. I actually saw it on my Netflix queue or on the recommendations or whatever or new on Netflix queue last night, and I gasped. And then, no joke, I stayed up till 4:30 watching it. ‘Cause I started watching it like 2:00 or something, and then I was just like, I need to finish it! So, I stayed up really late watching it, and my partner’s like, “What the fuck?” I’m like, “I’m watching my movie! Leave me alone.” But Moonlight is so beautiful. And even if you’ve already seen it, watch it again. If you’ve not seen it, what are you doing with your life?
It is the Academy Award-winning film directed by Barry Jenkins, and I just wanna say that I wanna watch everything that he will ever make. I wanna go back and watch the short film that he made and one of his debut films that he made. I think that he is just such a fucking talented storyteller, and whoever he is working with, with cinematography and lighting and editing, fucking keep that staff. You guys were killing it! So gorgeous. The film is just heartbreaking, and there’s just so much pain and yearning and desire. Oh, I can’t!
DAHLIA: [Laughs.]
AMY: But if you’re unfamiliar, it follows the life of this young Black kid. His name is Chiron, and he lives in Miami. And it follows him in three different stages of his life, from when he’s very young to when he’s a teenager to when he’s a grown man and about what he’s doing in terms of trying to make a life for himself, but also the undertone of him struggling with his sexual identity. And it’s so fucking gorgeous! There’s so many shots of longing that are seared in my brain that makes my heart just jump out of my chest. There’s this, I think the very, very famous scene of longing where there’s—I don’t wanna spoil it if you’ve not seen it—but there’s a jukebox and there’s a song and there’s him sitting in a diner. It is g-o-r-g-e-o-u-s. So gorgeous. The entire third segment of the film with adult Chiron is so beautiful. Please watch this film if you’ve not watched it. And I urge you to watch it again to remind you of what a fucking masterpiece this film is.
So, yes, Moonlight is on Netflix. I know it was on Amazon Prime for a while, but I don’t have Amazon Prime. But I know everybody has Netflix, so watch it, watch it, watch it on Netflix.
DAHLIA: So good. When I think about Moonlight, all I can think about are the colors. It’s just like—
AMY: Ahhhhh.
DAHLIA: I know, right? You have the best reactions, Amy. It just, it’s so beautiful. It’s so lovely and beautiful. And speaking of filled with longing: my listen pick is the song “Cellophane” by FKA twigs. This song is so sad but filled with longing. I love this song, and the music video is really, really incredible. We were talking about it before we started recording this episode.
FKA twigs is a musician, a British musician, but she’s also a dancer. And she learned how to do pole dancing for this music video, which is so cool and weird and interesting. And FKA twigs seems like just like the strongest woman in the world.
AMY: Oh!
DAHLIA: Like it’s unreal. It’s unreal what she can do. And this song is so sad and lovely. The music video is so cool. I recommend all of it so highly. So, this is “Cellophane” by FKA twigs.
[“Cellophane” plays]
♪ “I just want to feel you’re there….” ♪
AMY: We need more longing in art. Thanks for listening!
DAHLIA: [Laughs.] So true. Thanks for listening.
♪ “I don’t want to have to share our love/
I try but I get overwhelmed” ♪


by Amy Lam
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Amy Lam was a contributing editor and co-host of Backtalk at Bitch Media. Find her at & Twitter / Instagram.

by Dahlia Balcazar
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Dahlia Balcazar was a senior editor at Bitch Media, the co-host of the podcast Backtalk, and the host of the live show Feminist Snack Break. She’s passionate about horror films, ’90s music, girl gangs, and Shirley Jackson. You can follow her on Instagram and Twitter.