In the name of full disclosure, I am a survivor of a violent sexual assault. It was as horrible as you would think, and it played as much of a role in the adult I have become as anything else.
For what it’s worth, I do not believe that Brett Kavanaugh has any business being a Supreme Court Justice. I believe Christine Braley Ford and her events of what happened. She was molested by this man, and she kept silent for decades because, really, why would anyone bring this sort of horrible negative attention upon herself if there wasn’t a good reason?
We all have that bottom line, that ENOUGH button, and seeing her tormentor named to the highest and most prestigious court there is, to be given the honor and lifetime appointment of a seat on the Supreme Court, forced her hand. She did not accuse Neil Gorsuch of committing this crime because she is not a liar or an attention whore. She accused Brett Kavanaugh because … well, because he did it. She gains nothing and loses everything.
I hope she has a little bit of absolution, but I know this is highly unlikely. I spent many sleepless nights blaming myself and wishing I’d told and learning to live life with this horrible pain inside me all the time. When my daughter Gabrielle was born, I experienced flashbacks to the rape, almost twenty years after the fact, and what should have been a joyous time was instead a nightmare.
I understand, Dr. Ford. God, do I understand.
But I also understand that this has opened a can of worms that cannot be closed.
People are saying, “He’s innocent until proven guilty” (as if you can prove a thirty year old rape) or “Bill Clinton did the same thing” or “All a woman has to do is accuse and the guy’s life is over … how unfair is that?”
Oh, they are also saying (or I suppose I should say trumpeting on Facebook), “She’s a liar.” Period. Bam. As if they know.
So many people see the world in black and white. It isn’t. There are infinite shades of grey, and if we are honest with ourselves then we must accept that. What frightens me, sickens me, is that so many people–on both sides of the equation–want what they want, just what they want, to be the focus, the yin or yang of conversations.
I said, “Me too”, and I will continue to say it. I stand with the sisters I am forever bonded to through violence and blood and screams into pillowcases.
That said, the cries of “Me too” perpetuate the bigger problem as well.
There are many wonderful, kind, gentle men in the world. These are men that would not intentionally drive over a squirrel in 2018, never mind commit sexual crimes against a woman. It’s just antithetical for them to do anything that would hurt a woman sexually.
By the same token, there are a lot of decent men that had random drunken moments, most likely in later high school or college, that they look back on with discomfort. They ask themselves, “I didn’t do anything wrong when I grabbed her butt/forced my hand into her bra after she pushed it away/had sex with her when she said no but didn’t do anything to make me stop/a zillion other scenarios, did I?”
I absolutely guarantee that men in both camps have sexually mistreated a woman. Did they realize it then? Do they realize it now? Do they fret about every past conversation, every memory of casual sex, every time they ogled a woman to a point where she was clearly uncomfortable?
I think some of them do.
Yet, as a woman, I can think of lots of things I have said or done that would be considered offensive if I were male. I am mortified to think of them now, especially as I shout, “Me too”.
I remember these moments, and part of me wants to say, “Hey, it’s not the same thing at all”, but that is not true.
This is not going to be a popular opinion, but I deplore hypocrisy so I am going to say that I own moments where I treated men badly. I think that, if most women look at themselves in the mirror, they will see that they have done some of the things that they demonize in men.
I think about myriad giggled conversations about penis size and prowess with girlfriends over a bottle of wine. I think about time spent checking out men’s butts on nights out … and being very vocal about my opinions. I remember with shame a drunken night out with a group of coworkers where I put my hand somewhere I shouldn’t have. My male friend, clearly aware of how intoxicated I was, moved my hand out of his lap and said nothing about it. I remember wearing tight white shirts and thin bras when I worked at a factory (and was a hundred pounds lighter and young and easy on the eyes) and enjoying the fact that most of the men I worked with were constantly looking at my breasts.
Very few of us are innocent.
I think about how long I bled after I was raped, how scared I was that the monster would find me again, how many nights I woke up screaming because I relived the rape a hundred times in nightmares.
But having that happen to me did not give me carte blanche to debase or tease or intentionally use my body to distract men.
And that happened.
Everybody is talking about Dr. Ford’s accusations against Brett Kavanaugh, and they should be. He is not an honorable man, and he does not deserve the privilege of serving on the highest court in the land. I applaud Dr. Ford’s courage and find Trump’s Oompah Loompah brigade absolutely deplorable in their staunch refusal to stray from the party line.
Nobody wants to talk about this, but when this rock was overturned, the ugliness underneath has proven to be much bigger than Brett Kavanaugh.
And we all own a piece of it.