How long can anger be sustained? It’s a low grade persistent throbbing behind your eyes. Does it can it will it stay inside forever? Bottled up? Or does it overflow inevitably? A fiery wrath let loose upon those unsuspecting who deserve it? Those bystanders who let it happen?
I’m talking, of course, about Christine Blasey Ford. She’s often called the “Kavanaugh accuser,” but say her name. Christine Blasey Ford did not let Kavanaugh define her identity when she was 15 and he was 17. And we surely are not going to start now.
It has been 27 years since Anita Hill was questioned for the Clarence Thomas Hearing. I was alive, but I do not remember it. The year of the woman followed. 2016 was set to be another year of women, this time defined by women themselves. But, unfairly, we were denied. This year, we set the stage for decades to come. Remember when Serena Joy finally realizes in Season 2 of Handmaid’s Tale that her daughter will have to live in the world she has created? The panic slowly setting in?
Brett Kavanaugh is accused of secluding Christine Blasey Ford in a room when he was drunk at a high school party and laying on top of her, fumbling with clothes and keeping her from screaming with a hand over her mouth. But his future, they say? Blasey Ford had to pick herself up and start over, move on. Shouldn’t he?
One of the most infuriating parts of this story (someone’s actual life, do not forget) is that they want to question both of them side by side, one after the other. The kind of violence that the FBI is refusing to investigate is horrifyingly commonplace in our rape-accepting culture. More then, even, for a group of preppy white male teens than now. We cannot be surprised Kavanaugh has no memory of the incident. Nor is it surprising for Blasey Ford to remember every moment of it viscerally, in vivid detail, as if it were yesterday.
Here is how I know:
In eighth grade, I was sitting at the picnic tables during lunch playing cards with my group of girl friends. A sixth grade boy, the younger brother of a classmate, the son of my paretns’ friends came up behind me and rubbed his groin on my back, “Gotta keep it up!” he hollered. I turned around, and he and his friends laughed and backed away and I said nothing.
That night, I told my parents. I was fat and the peanut gallery and had crushes on boys who would never look at me, but I knew how I felt and that it was not right. And it was not my fault. Yet I was embarrassed.
I told my parents and they called his. His parents asked him about it without putting the phone down. “I’ve been set up!” he told them. Insisted. That is how my mother told it to me.
And what more could be done?
I think about this more than I probably should. Does he remember this day? Does he remember doing this to me? If he does, is it with guilt? Does it make him think twice?
I realize he probably does not think of it at all. Why would he? It was something small, an everyday occurrence, a blip in day of the life of a sixth grade boy.
And that is how I know Kavanaugh will not be able to speak to these accusations. Because if a 12 year old boy can learn to deny his shameful, degrading actions within the span of a few hours, I am positive a 53 year old judge can persuade himself nothing was wrong that night.
“I have no doubt that, if the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local Law Enforcement Authorities by either her or her loving parents. I ask that she bring those filings forward so that we can learn date, time, and place!” the “leader” of the free world tweeted. And we felt trapped.
As if the level of offense is what makes victims/survivors of assault come forward. As if the blame should be put on the victim/survivor or the family and not on the accused. It is nothing new, nothing surprising, but it focused a spotlight on the way we pretend to ourselves that people do not think anymore.
I try to imagine her even considering reporting this in 1980. Her, a 15 year old girl, whose family was entwined within the upper class community, filing against him, a 17 year old boy from the same. It is hard to imagine that kind of belief in self if it were to happen today. I picture her saying something, being met with laughter or “It could have been worse.” But most likely, “Well Brett is such a nice boy.” Before this tweet, when Blasey Ford asked for an investigation into the allegations, her request was denied. Yet she had agreed to testify before Congress, despite having seen, 10 years after her own assault, Anita Hill’s own questioning. The undermining of a woman who survived and who felt compelled to speak up.
As ever, women have to settle for what we can get. When women are denied justice, we still seek it out for those who come after. This is more than a confirmation hearing for a justice of the Supreme Court. This is a confirmation of who gets justice and who does not, of what we have always known to be true.
I hope I am wrong. I hope we all are. Because I know Christine Blasey Ford is right.