Okay, I’m going to get political, and it is long, so read on if you’d like. If not, thanks for stopping by!
Let’s discuss what went down a week ago. But before that, some background: the president nominated a man for the Supreme Court, his 2nd nominee. Since it’s a lifetime appointment, it’s rare that a president even gets 1 nominee, but this reality star gets 2! I’m still in shock that he is the president so let’s leave that where it is. Anyway, so he chooses this man, Brett Kavanaugh. And let’s be clear that he didn’t really ‘choose’ him. He was given a list by a group called the Federalist Society and from that list he chose BK. The Senate Judiciary Committee (with 11 Republicans and 10 Democrats) had held their hearings where they were able to ask questions of him, etc. Let’s also mention here that the committee did not receive nearly 100,000 pages of records of Kavanaugh’s time in the George W. Bush administration, and the Democrats didn’t like BK for reasons already named, but also because BK has said that presidents should not be allowed to be under criminal investigation or prosecution while in office. The president is currently under investigation for Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
So these hearings take place and the committee is scheduled to vote on whether to confirm him and send him on to the full vote from Congress, but then there are rumblings of an allegation, a woman, and even though the Republicans claim that this information was ‘held’ by the Democrats until the last minute, everything had been in motion since early July. In fact, this timeline describes everything that happened. (Notice that I’m trying to use sources from “both sides,” the source for the timeline purports that it shows how many times the woman contacted the Democrats, but since that’s her party [assuming], it makes sense that she would reach out to them.)
After some legal acrobatics and political theater, it was determined that the woman, by this time her name and story leaked to the press, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, and Brett Kavanaugh would testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee (SJC) about her allegations against him which were that he sexually assaulted her while the two were in high school.
Thursday, September 27, it feels like all of America was tuned in either to listen or to watch the live footage of this hearing. Dr. Ford’s statement had been released prior to the hearing, but listening to her read it, her voice shaky with emotion as she recounted an experience that scarred her, was riveting, heart wrenching, and incredibly authentic. I teared up periodically and was incredibly moved when she said, “Brett’s assault on me drastically altered my life. For a very long time, I was too afraid and ashamed to tell anyone the details. I did not want to tell my parents that I, at age 15, was in a house without any parents present, drinking beer with boys. I tried to convince myself that because Brett did not rape me, I should be able to move on and just pretend that it had never happened.”
To me, that statement was so real. Now, let me be clear, I have never been raped or violently sexually assaulted, but other things have happened. And I simply understand that mindset. That rationalization that she did. And let me also say that the fact that I have not been raped or violently sexually assaulted I attribute only to being lucky. Not to being smart or safe or smarter or safer than other women, simply that I have been lucky. And how fucked up is that?
My experiences, though relatively benign, are still experiences, and I remember them. I remember a guy who often made me feel guilty for wanting to have sex. I remember a guy who, as we were saying goodbye, thought it would be a good idea to stick his tongue down my throat (there had been no contact whatsoever up to that point). I remember a guy who gave me a story about coming over to visit and then propositioned me to sleep with him and assured me his wife wouldn’t mind. He tried to make his argument for a long time. I remember having sex with a guy who then, without telling me, put it somewhere else. I was unsure of what to do. I didn’t like it, I was uncomfortable, but I was also already having sex with him so I didn’t think I could do anything. I remember a guy who decided that we should sleep together and when I said no, he showed me his dick as if to show me what I would be missing. I remember a guy who I fancied a bit, and we were hanging out with some other people in a public place. I was standing next to him while he talked to someone and suddenly he put his arm around me and put his hand down the back of my pants. I suddenly realized I could be anyone to him, and I left. I remember ending it with a guy who then called me multiple times (before cell phones). When I didn’t change my mind, he made veiled threats. I remember being with a guy who wouldn’t allow us to be seen together.
I probably couldn’t tell you the year any of these things happened, though I could guesstimate. I know some of them are well over 20 years ago. I can tell you where they happened. And guess what? I was friends with most of these guys. But, as I said, these relatively benign incidents are part of my memory. Most of them, I’ve never talked about much or told anyone because I felt like I was at fault somehow or, as Dr. Ford said, it wasn’t anything that bad, so I figured I just should move on and forget about them. And for the most part I have, except that I remember. I’m sure most of these guys don’t recall these moments or think that anything was wrong. And that’s the patriarchy seamlessly at work. That’s why, as I listened to Dr. Ford, I became certain, just as many other people did, that this happened to her.
Then, in the afternoon session, Brett Kavanaugh, in his statement came out guns blazing, blaming everyone from the Clintons to the media to certain members of the Democratic party. Further into his hearing, he cried about keeping meticulous calendars, raged about how hard he worked to get into Yale. To me, it was a classic double standard. The man gets to be vicious, aggressive, and righteous and the woman must be measured, calm, and can be emotional but not too much so as not to appear hysterical. Oh, and he talked about how much he liked beer, and like a typical abusive asshole, turned the question around on one senator who asked if he had ever blacked out from drinking by saying, “Have you?” God.
As the LA Times wrote, “Once senators started to question him, his high dudgeon, which was defensible, turned into something darker and far more revealing about who he is: a political operative who had the great good fortune to be named as judge to a court that is a proving ground for future Supreme Court justices.”
At the end of the hearing, the SJC was supposed to vote to confirm (or not), but in a surprise twist, Republican senator Jeff Flake said he would only vote yes if they allowed the FBI to do another background investigation around these new allegations against him. In another surprise, the committee agreed and the president approved. But there were catches. It couldn’t last longer than a week and the scope had to be limited etc. So it’s been a week now, and the rumblings from the left are that the FBI didn’t have enough time while on the right, they’re saying the investigation doesn’t show anything new. The FBI did not talk to Ford or Kavanaugh. Senators each had about an hour to review the report today (Thursday). And, of course, the president couldn’t leave well enough alone, he went ahead and made fun of Dr. Ford at one of his rallies (what modern, sitting president needs to have so many rallies?) on Tuesday. Oh, and after Kavanaugh’s less-than-measured performance, many groups are withdrawing their endorsement or calling for him to withdraw, claiming he did not display the temperament of a judge worthy of the Supreme Court.
“A procedural vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation is likely to take place Friday morning, which if passed would limit debate on the issue to 30 hours. The Senate is then expected to vote to confirm Kavanaugh sometime Saturday.” – from CBS News
I have no illusions that he won’t be confirmed. As much as I am hoping/wishing for a turn of the tides, I don’t think we’re there yet. And I could probably go on and on about what a feckless turd Mitch McConnell is and how he’s almost single-handedly changed the face of the Supreme Court, but I won’t.
All I know is that the patriarchy is alive and well. I’m at a rolling boil in solidarity with all of the women (and men) who have had experiences like mine and much worse and who have swallowed their rage, their fear, and somehow have managed not to burn down all of creation.
I’m in awe of the courage Dr. Ford showed, for herself, and for all of the people who haven’t or couldn’t speak their truth. I fear for the potential damage that will be done at the hands of Kavanaugh and the conservative majority on the bench of the Supreme Court. And I will vote.