Author and Trump accuser E. Jean Carroll loves men, but thinks they shouldn't be running things anymore

E. Jean Carroll is seen in an undated photo released on June 25, 2019. Courtesy E. Jean Carroll/Handout Handout . / REUTERS

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As a veteran journalist, writer and commentator, it’s hard to believe that E. Jean Carroll didn’t see it coming. But she calls the response to accusations that the President of the United States sexually assaulted her a “startling explosion.”

An excerpt from her new book, What Do We Need Men For?, ran in New York Magazine back in June, describing how she had been sexually assaulted in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room 23 years earlier by the future president. No matter how you look at it, it was sure to shake the foundations of power, even if Trump crudely denied the charge by saying Carroll was not his type.

Nevertheless, she was taken aback by the resulting storm, even if it was short-lived.

“That was like an explosion we were not ready for, I was certainly not prepared,” says Carroll. “It was five or six uproarious days and then it all died down.”

The writer is on the phone with Postmedia from her home in New York, promoting a book tour that will bring her to Calgary’s Wordfest Imaginairium for events on Oct. 19, 20 and 21.

Part of the message she has been keen to put forward since the Trump bombshell, is that her book is not about Trump. He is limited to one chapter and a list of 21 “Hideous men” that Carroll has encountered in her life, dating back to her early childhood. Not all of the men she describes sexually assaulted her but many did, some when she was a child. They include a camp counsellor, the boyfriend of a babysitter, a fellow Indiana University student, and Les Moonves, the disgraced former chairman, president and chief executive of the CBS Corporation. (Moonves, like Trump, has denied the accusation.)

While this all sounds very harrowing, and often is, the “hideous men” were not the starting point of the book. While obviously addressing serious issues, What Do We Need Men For? started life in a more playful manner.

“The book is funny,” Carroll says. “It’s about a road trip. And I seriously ask the question, what do we need men for? And women, seriously, gave me the answer. It was quite wonderful.”

The initial concept, much of which remains, was for Carroll to take a road trip to towns named after women — Elnora in Indiana, Pocahontas in Missouri, Elizabethtown in Kentucky — and ask the question. For more than a quarter-century, Carroll has been writing an advice column for Elle Magazine and realized that many of her readers’ problems came from problem men. She also won an Emmy for her work as a writer for Saturday Night Live in the 1980s. So it’s hardly surprising that What Do We Need Men For? offers a hearty dose of humour and irreverent advice. Her road trip had just gotten underway when a front-page story in the New York Times ran in October of 2017 about allegations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.

“Everything changed. Everything,” Carroll says. “Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey got a story that had been going on for centuries and nobody had come forward to talk about and there it was. It changed my whole view.”

So she began thinking about people and incidents from her own life.

“I’m a buoyant person, I never dwell on the past,” she says. “I don’t even dwell on the shadows of the past. However, I found out that I was angry and I held on to that anger as I was writing. As a writer, you have a ball of fire and you either hold that ball of fire and you work with it or you ignore it to your peril. I held onto my anger, I wrote the book and now I’m done with it.”

Throughout the book, Carroll refers to her readers as “ladies,” suggesting she had a good grasp on her demographics.

“It’s not that we don’t like men; we like men,” she says. “We really, really like men. We love men, actually. It’s just that we’ve been treated like slaves for the last 40,000, 50,000 years. We never got equal money. We didn’t get equal jobs … We didn’t even vote. They wouldn’t even let us vote! What I found out is that women really like men, we just don’t want them to run everything.”

That includes the current commander-in-chief, who clocks in at No. 20 in Carroll’s 21 Most Hideous Men, or “21 most revolting scoundrels,” in her life.

While Carroll may be surprised about the initial reaction to her revelation, she isn’t surprised at the world’s morbid and seemingly endless curiosity about the man. On the one hand, things have obviously improved for women.

“It’s getting better so quickly, we can hardly keep up with how much better things are becoming,” she says. “Educational levels are rising. Every year, the achievements are piling up. We are becoming more and more aware that women have the right to earn the same amount of money. Women around the world are being pulled out of poverty, slavery, ill-health.”

Still, It’s hard not to see the election of someone like Trump — who has been accused of sexual misconduct by a number of women — as not representing some sort of regression. But Carroll refuses to let it get her down.

“We are backsliding in that eight states are trying to take away a woman’s right to control our own bodies,” she says. “So he is an example of turning the culture backwards. But I think it’s a blip. I think we’re going to vote him out, I really do. I think we’re going to rise up. I’m very hopeful about that.”

E. Jean Carroll will attend Wordfest Imaginairium on Oct. 19 at 7 p.m. at the Central Library’s Patricia A. Whelan Performance Hall, Oct. 20 at 4:30 p.m. at the Memorial Park Library and Oct. 21 at 7 p.m. at the Memorial Park Library. Visit