Stormy Daniels’ Description of Sex With Trump Is All Too Familiar for Sex Workers

“I didn’t want it, but I allowed it to happen,” the adult film star says in a new documentary that sheds lights on their fateful encounter.Updated Mar. 23, 2024 3:17AM EDT / Published Mar. 23, 2024 12:28AM EDT opinionPhoto Illustration by The Daily Beast / GettyMany things have been said about Stormy Daniels. A funny, sassy, strong woman from Baton Rouge, Louisiana

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“I didn’t want it, but I allowed it to happen,” the adult film star says in a new documentary that sheds lights on their fateful encounter.

Laura LeMoon

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An illustration including photos of former U.S. President Donald Trump and Stormy Daniels

Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast / Getty

Many things have been said about Stormy Daniels. A funny, sassy, strong woman from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, who grew up barely surviving in poverty in an already poor city, the Daniels we see in the new documentary Stormy cusses unapologetically, makes jokes, and is clearly a survivor. There is a defiance in the way that she carries herself that makes her compulsively charming. She is not a victim, and it shows.

Stormy, released this past week on Peacock, is primarily about the events surrounding her relationship to former President Donald Trump. When Stormy Daniels met Trump at a charity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe in 2006, she just saw him as a “goofy reality star.” As she says in the doc, “He was a playboy and he was used to getting his way.”

At this time, Trump was best known for his work on the hit reality show The Apprentice. He invited her to dinner at his hotel, but since she got there early she went up to his room where he was wearing black silk pajamas. Daniels was there for business.

“You’re actually really smart,” said Trump to her as they discussed the business of a possible appearance on The Apprentice. While coming out of the bathroom, Trump cornered Daniels, she alleges. In a later 60 Minutes interview after Trump became president, Anderson Cooper asked her pointedly if she had wanted to have sex with him, to which she responded “No. But I didn’t say no.”

Daniels has been adamant in the past that what occurred between her and Donald Trump was not rape, but that she also felt like he wouldn’t have taken “no” for an answer. In her own words towards the end of the documentary Daniels says of the incident, “I didn’t want it, but I allowed it to happen.”

Trump was and is a man of power and great privilege. At the time of their meeting in Lake Tahoe in 2006, Trump was 60 while Daniels was just 27. He had more money than she could probably ever make in a lifetime and was one phone call away from the most rich, powerful, and elite of the world. There was no doubt that there was a power imbalance between the two that went far beyond gender and age. So did the absence of a “no” imply “yes” for Trump?

As a sex worker myself, I can tell you that most people assume an adult film actress is fair game. She does it for a living, people might argue, so why would her “no” count? And it’s not hard to imagine a certain presumption on the part of a man who has said he likes to “grab ’em by the pussy.”

As a woman, I know I’m not alone in having had many experiences in which I knew my “no” didn’t matter—so I never even bothered to say it. I can remember one moment when I was with a long-term boyfriend, as has been the case with most of the rapes I have experienced. I had wanted to stop our sexual activity in the middle and tried to push him off me to get up and walk away. He pushed me back down—not hard but lightly, and said, “Just give me a second.” I didn’t protest. I never said no but I also never gave any indication that I was consenting. I let him do it because it was easiest and safest to do so. It was less humiliating and scary than putting up a fight and getting violently overpowered anyways.

To be clear, I would never attempt to define Daniels’ experience for her. She is the only one with authority to speak on her experiences. Daniels has historically said in interviews that this was not “rape.” However, the documentary brings up questions around the issue of consent, power, and misogyny that go beyond just one woman’s experience. In the documentary, Daniels states, “I blame myself because I didn’t shut his ass down in the moment”—an all too common feeling.

Stormy Daniels has suffered a lot for her truth, and this is what comes through most clearly in the documentary. A plucky, resilient, funny woman who is unafraid to go head-to-head with the president of the United States of America. She is unafraid and she will not be cornered again.

In Stormy, she insinuates that it bothers her when people refer to her as “porn star Stormy Daniels.” She is so much more than that, and she deserves a legacy as big as her bravery.

Daniels is getting ready to potentially testify against Trump in his New York criminal trial. She has already been met with so much misogyny within both the legal system and court of public opinion. She speaks of daily death threats from Trump supporters. Her address was even leaked and her horse was shot as some sort of warning.

It’s not fair that she should shoulder so much as a result of having a sexual interaction she never wanted in the first place. But Stormy Daniels is not what has happened to her, and she is clearly nobody’s victim. Unfortunately she won’t be the first or last woman in this position. But she can use her voice to keep other women from being in the same position. This should be what Stormy Daniels is known for.

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