After reading The Audacity of E. Jean Carroll, Jessica Bennett’s brilliant opinion piece in the New York Times, followed by Katie Couric’s Why Jessica Bennett’s E. Jean Carroll Story Hit a Nerve, I was so amped-up I grabbed a spoon and dove full bore into a jar of peanut butter. NERVE HIT!!!
As a 76-year-old working woman with all her marbles intact--and then some—I identify with Ms. Carroll’s journey on so many levels that, had I still been a smoker and it had been later in the day, wine and cigarettes would have most definitely been the “self-soothers” of choice. But it’s morning and I’m trying to calm myself down enough to unpack this dispassionately. Heads-up…may not be possible. But I’ll try.
To recap, E. Jean Carroll sued Donald Trump for defamation and battery. In May of 2023, a jury found him liable for defamation and sexual abuse against Carroll and awarded her $5 million in damages. Then last week, on January 26th a second jury also found Trump liable for defamation and awarded Carroll an additional $83.3 million in damages.
Jessica Bennett was there and wrote “… as I sat in court in Manhattan last week, watching Mr. Trump glare and mumble at the back of Ms. Carroll’s head — she sat two rows in front of him, pin straight in her chair, the first time she’s been near this man in nearly 30 years — I couldn’t stop thinking that this trial was also about something else: the value of a woman, long past middle age, who dared to claim she indeed still had value.”
Curious about how and why Bennett came to write this piece, Couric reached out and asked her: “ I was sitting in the courtroom with a cadre of political reporters, legal analysts, and others who were there to watch, and dissect, every little micro-move made by Donald Trump — his gestures, what he was muttering under his breath, what he was posting to social media from inside the courtroom — and rightly so. They wanted to know what it meant for his campaign, his ongoing legal battles, his wallet, his ability to shut up and stop attacking this woman,” Bennett shared. “ But I just kept thinking to myself, This is so wild, to see a woman who is 80 years old, a woman who was told again and again that she was a liar and an old hag, that she was past her prime, that she had no more value as a journalist, that she wouldn’t win, that it wouldn’t matter, standing up to this man and demanding that she was still worth something.”
Thank you, Jessica! Thank you, Katie! And THANK YOU, E. Jean Carroll, for so courageously proving that it’s not just demeaning and diminishing… it’s just plain foolish and, quite frankly, irresponsible, to underestimate the value of women our age, or any age, for that matter. You showed the world what self-worth looks like!
“If age has in some ways been a hurdle for Ms. Carroll to overcome in this case,” writes Bennett, “I’d like to think that it was also age that let her see it through to this conclusion. That it was age and wisdom and the confidence that comes along with it that allowed her to make the genuinely audacious claim that an 80-year-old woman still has good, creative, vivacious, maybe even profitable years ahead of her.”