I try not to talk politics much on this blog. Since the election of Trump there's never a slow news day, and all of it is bad. Everyone in this country spends half their time seething with barely controlled rage these days, and who wants to come to a blog and read more of the same? I prefer to focus on my everyday life when I write here...work, family, nature, pets....the good stuff. Also, the majority of my blog friends and readers don't live in the USA. While they may follow our news, and vice versa, something that feels like a burning issue to me doesn't have the same urgency for the rest of the world. I get that. When my friends in England argue over Brexit or individual politicians, for instance, I don't have much to add to the conversation. As for heated political discourse, I get plenty of that in my everyday life. There's no need for more of it on the blog.
But this week has been different for me. The Kavanaugh thing has really, really bothered me on a visceral level that I don't understand. For the record, I believe Dr. Ford. I think she's entirely credible and has nothing to gain from all this. When Brett Kavanaugh testified and alternated between raging, sniveling, crying, and screaming about conspiracies, he proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that he lacks the temperament to be a judge of any kind, much less on the SCOTUS, allegations of sexual wrongdoing aside. If I had been asked some tough interview questions at my last jobs, and had totally lost all composure the way that man did, I would never have had a job! He's not on trial, no one is suggesting he's going to be prosecuted, he's in the process of a job interview. It's easy to imagine the entitled, selfish, aggressive teenager Dr. Ford described in the red faced, furious, sarcastic man we saw on Thursday.
Of course I'm mostly bothered by the utter wickedness of the GOP and Trump trying to rush through the nomination no matter what so that they can get their man on the court before the midterms. He was hand picked because he has said that a sitting president cannot be indicted, and because he's ready and willing to chip away at Roe vs. Wade. They don't care about anything else. But somehow that's not the main thing that bothered me about this story.
The worst part for me is the disgusting misogyny on full display for the world to see. How little a potential victim's suffering means to those in power when a wealthy, privileged white man might lose a job he feels entitled to. The way young men are indulged with a "boys will be boys" attitude and bad behavior is excused easily but every action of a young woman leading up to and after an attack is scrutinized and doubted for ways she didn't behave exactly "right". What was she wearing, was she drinking, how much had she had to drink, why was she out late at parties in the first place, why didn't she report it to the police right away...?
That last question (why didn't Dr. Ford report the attack to the police at the time) is one that some people think casts the most doubt one the story. That bothered me the most in this whole mess and it took me a couple of days to figure out why. Here's a little story from my teenage years that I had forgotten about until this Kavanaugh story came out.
When I was about 17 years old I attended a party at my friend Amber's house. You should understand from the start that I didn't have a lot of supervision at home; my parents were drinking heavily in those days and having marital problems, and they didn't take a whole lot of notice of me. I had a second hand car and could (and did) drive myself wherever I wanted to go, including the party at Amber's that night.
There were a handful of other teenagers there, but no adults. One of my classmates brought a slightly older friend from out of town to the party. I don't remember his name, but I remember how he spent the whole night following me around, hitting on me. He got very, very drunk and at some point produced a handful of pills from one pocket that were passed around. I didn't take any; I wasn't that reckless even as a teenager, and I distinctly remember only sipping at a couple of beers that night since I had to drive later. (Ultra responsible only child of alcoholics that I was). Staying relatively sober turned out to be a really good decision on my part.
At some point, after hours of this annoying guy getting all touchy-feely and following me around, he seemed to get the message that I wanted him to leave me alone. Maybe I asked my friend Kyle (the guy who brought him) to rein him in. It got later and later, and everyone (except me) got drunker and drunker, and before long people had started to couple up and disappear to private rooms or places on the property. I must have been getting ready to go home; if memory serves it was very late. The only lights on in the house were from a couple of TVs with the sound turned off, and the music was blaring. I remember it vividly because I walked into the den of the house and the Annoying Guy was standing there in the dimly lit room, alone, and stripped down to his underwear. His eyes were glassy and blank when we looked at me. Alarm bells went off in my head and I immediately turned to walk back out, but he rushed forward and grabbed me. He turned me around and pulled me to him, hard, and we struggled for a couple of seconds. It felt totally surreal. He never said a word and I'm not sure if I did. Luckily for me my adrenaline was pumping and the guy was stumbling, fumbling drunk and high; after a few seconds of trying to get away I shoved him hard enough that he lost his footing and fell. I ran from the house via the front door and found some friends outside to run to. I was pretty scared and went home soon after.
Would the guy have raped me if he had been a little less intoxicated? Maybe. Maybe not. I'll never be able to say with certainty. I will give him this much: according to Kyle (our mutual friend) he didn't remember the incident at all, and the next morning when he sobered up enough to hear about it he asked Kyle to call me so he could apologize. I refused to speak to him, or accept his apology, but at least he tried to make one. I don't doubt that he didn't remember a thing about the incident, but the way he harassed me beforehand proved that he wasn't just some innocent victim of too much alcohol. And if I had taken some of the pills he was passing around, who knows what might have happened to me.
Did I tell my parents about this incident? Hell, no. It never occurred to me to tell them, much less the police. I was only badly scared, after all, and what would the police have done? Dismissed it out of hand, most likely. My parents would probably have punished me for being at such a party in the first place if I had told them. They might have blamed me for getting myself in such a spot and considered that I had learned a lesson. So, no...I didn't report it. That doesn't mean it didn't happen.
Dr. Ford has described an attack much more scary and calculated than the one I've described here, and she was two years younger than me, only 15 years old. There wouldn't have been any physical evidence of what happened to her except possibly some bruises, but maybe not even those, so what would the police have done? Nothing, that's what. Nothing at all. These were rich, elite, white boys from prominent families and it was their word against hers. And she was only 15 fucking years old at the time! Conservatives** are screaming about how she didn't handle it properly (i.e., how they think she should have handled it) for her story to be credible and they're talking about a child. How can the ones with daughters look their children in the eye? When they smear Dr. Ford and call her a liar, when they circulate wild conspiracy theories to try to discredit her (like a woman I know who keeps sharing photoshopped photos of Ford meeting with George Soros and claiming he's paying her off, ffs) when they make excuses for outrageous teenage male behavior, how can they ever expect their daughters to trust them? As a friend of mine put it yesterday on FB (and I have permission to share):
I want all of you to be aware that although I haven’t spoken up about Dr Ford’s accusations I have been watching. I have been reading your statuses and silently making note of who I no longer consider safe. I’m reading and I’m learning who, if I were to open up to them about my own experience with sexual assault and abuse, would look for any possible reason to excuse or dismiss the actions of my abuser. Who would wonder what I had been wearing or what I may have done to encourage them. Who would defend my abuser over me. Who would think I was lying or looking for attention. Who would consider me weak or stupid for not being brave enough to go to authorities with my story when it happened. I’m watching and learning who is unsafe, and I’m taking note. The same is probably true of all your friends who have suffered sexual assault and I just wanted you to know that. We see you. We know who you really are now and we’ll remember.
So this whole Kavanaugh story has really gotten to me. Although I've never been raped or molested, I've been on the receiving end of abusive male behavior and unwanted sexual advances more than once in my life, and seeing just how far women still haven't come in this country has been an eye opener for me. I've felt almost sick all week about this and I'm finding that most of my friends, at least the women, are feeling the same sense of anguish.
** I would like to go on the record as saying that I think Lindsey Graham is an utter sack of shit and a disgrace to the state of South Carolina.