The Kavanaugh Confirmation

Disappointingly but unsurprisingly, Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court. Just as I suspected, the FBI investigation was a sham meant to appease sexual assault survivors before the inevitable affirmative votes took place. Two of the three “swing voters” voted to confirm Kavanaugh. In her speech Susan Collins said that Ford gave a compelling and believable testimony but there was no evidence that Kavanaugh was guilty of what she accused him of.

No. You cannot have it both ways. They cannot both be telling the truth. One of them is lying or mistaken. Since you voted to confirm Kavanaugh, clearly you think that person is Ford. Don’t act like you’re sympathetic to Ford or have any respect for her when you just gave her a huge “Fuck you” by voting to confirm the man who sexually assaulted her.

It’s disappointing to see not only men discounting the voices of women, perpetuating misogyny and upholding the patriarchy, but women as well. Susan Collins is just one example.

In a post-hearing analysis a commentator said that for many Republicans it’s not a question of if the sexual assault happened. They think it’s fine that it happened and shouldn’t disqualify Kavanaugh from the Supreme Court. Sadly, I think that commentator is right.

Then there was talk of the partisan divide, the us vs. them mentality, the notion of voting along party lines no matter what flaws the individual candidate may have. A commentator said that what it all really comes down to is pro-life vs. pro-choice and that the real reason democrats hate Kavanaugh is because he’s pro-life.

I’m pro-choice but if a pro-choice Supreme Court nominee sexually assaulted women, I would not support him because I know someone who supports a woman’s right to have an abortion but considers himself free to sexually assault her is not really pro-choice, just like someone who stops caring about human life once it exits the womb is not really pro-life.

It’s no secret that I despise the Republican Party and everything it stands for. I would definitely prefer not to vote Republican but I know that Democrats can have unforgivable flaws too and that sometimes you have to put country before party.

I roll my eyes when republicans accuse democrats of being hypocrites for preaching tolerance but being intolerant of intolerance, yet I have to admit they have a point when they accuse democrats of being hypocrites for ignoring the sexual assault allegations against Bill Clinton. I’ve also spoken out against those democrats who were outraged about Al Franken being fired over sexual assault and who felt the need to point out that his accuser is a Trump supporter.

The most galling response to this whole thing has been the one that turns men in to the victims. Those poor men are never safe from having their lives ruined by sexual assault allegations. Don’t sexually assault people and it shouldn’t be a problem. Where are all these supposed cases of men being destroyed for accidentally brushing up against a woman or telling a woman she looks nice? Because I’m only seeing men being held accountable for raping women, groping them, forcing themselves on them.

And far from proving that men are not safe, recent events have actually proven that men are free to sexually assault women with impunity. Brett Kavanugh did it and now he’s a Supreme Court justice. But let’s rub salt in the wounds of all the sexual assault victims who have been deeply traumatized.

I’m lucky in that I’ve never been sexually assaulted in the way that Christine Blasé Ford and numerous other women have been but I’ve experienced unwanted sexual advances and harassment. I’d be surprised if there’s any woman who hasn’t. When the me too movement was first trending I wrote a blog about a scary experience I’d had with sexual harassment. There was also the time I went to a frat party and had my crotch grabbed by a drunken frat boy multiple times. I never went to another frat party again.

There are those who will say that someone’s life shouldn’t be ruined by a mistake they made when they were 17. If those people feel that way, they should turn their attention to the inmates in this country who are serving decades or life in prison for non-homicide crimes they committed when they were 17. Not being able to serve as a Supreme Court justice does not qualify as having one’s life ruined.

There are those who will say “innocent until proven guilty.” Since that is a standard that applies to criminal cases in the court of law and not job interviews for legal positions, those people should turn their attention to the inmates who are languishing in prison despite no evidence or exonerating evidence. They should turn their attention to those who have been persecuted due to racism, rather than those who are benefitting as a result of white male privilege. The fact that the Republicans’ talking vagina Rachel Mitchell said that she would not have criminally prosecuted Kavanaugh for a sex crime is irrelevant because no one was suggesting he be criminally prosecuted. We were suggesting he not be appointed Supreme Court Justice.

Last week I watched a 60 Minutes interview with Donald Trump in which the interviewer asked if he thought it was okay for him to have mocked Christine Blasé Ford in the way that he did. He replied that it didn’t matter because they won. I can’t remember if this was before or after he yelled at the interviewer “I’m the president and you’re not!” I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that someone like Brett Kavanaugh is a Supreme Court justice when I consider the kind of guy who appointed him and who is unfortunately our president.

Even though this development is disheartening and disappointing, all is not lost. Even though Christine Blasé Ford could not stop Brett Kavanaugh from being appointed, her testimony made a difference. It may not seem like she made a difference in anything that matters because patriarchy insists that men in power are the only ones that matter, but we are seeing just how contagious her bravery is. So many women are coming forward with their stories and are putting an end to their decades of silence. Clearly, the Ford testimony mattered to them. I don’t usually sign petitions or letters on the internet but when asked to sign a letter thanking Ford for her testimony, I added my name to the list.

I prayed for a miracle when it came to the Kavanaugh vote and that ended up not happening but I’ll set my hopes on a blue wave in next month’s election. The time may be ripe for a wave since when it comes to stories of sexual assault, the dam of silence has burst and the floods of anger are pouring forth. I know that thoughts and prayers won’t cut it though so I plan on getting out there and voting. You too.

The Kavanaugh Hearing

On September 26th my mother told me that the following day her friend Sally would be staying home to watch the Kavanaugh hearing. I’d heard that Brett Kavanaugh had sexual assault charges brought against him and that his supreme court nomination was being called in to question but I didn’t know the hearing was the following day. Since Sally was staying home to watch it, I figured it must be a big deal and I decided I would watch it myself.

Being jobless and home alone all day is a real sore spot for me and in general I hate it but on September 27th, 2018, I was grateful to not have a job and to be free to watch the Kavanaugh trial in its entirety.  Ultimately I would have wished for the Kavanaugh hearing to not be happening in the first place because I wish that no women were sexually assaulted and I wish that Kavanaugh was never nominated and I wish that the man who nominated him had never been elected president but since it was happening and it was all the rage and all the buzz across the nation, I was glad to have the privilege of being glued to my television set.

I actually fell asleep waiting for the hearing to begin and as I drifted in that no man’s land between sleep and wakefulness, I heard the horrifying details of Dr. Ford’s account of being sexually assaulted by Brett Kavanaugh. I was fully awake as Ford was questioned and “cross examined” for hours regarding her experience.

Going in to the hearing I was pretty sure Dr. Ford was telling the truth. By the time Dr. Ford finished giving her testimony I was 100% positive she was telling the truth, just like she was 100% certain Kavanaugh was the one who assaulted her. When asked how she was so certain by someone in the courtroom she replied “The same way I’m certain you’re the one standing in front of me now.” I thought that was a solid answer but I also liked it when she responded to questions about her memory with her expert knowledge of neuroscience and how human memory works.

It was clear that she did not want to be there but she felt compelled to be there out of a sense of duty to our country and to all the women who have been sexually assaulted. It was clear that being there took tremendous courage on her part. She had no reason to lie. It would have been much easier for her to stay quiet but she chose to speak out. As a result other women who have been sexually assaulted have spoken out and more will continue to do so because as one of the judges said, courage is contagious.

Everyone acknowledged that Dr. Ford’s testimony was convincing, heartbreaking and harrowing. Everyone acknowledged that it would present a challenge to Kavanaugh. And then Kavanaugh walked in to the room with all guns blazing.

Like Dr. Ford he cried throughout his testimony but unlike Dr. Ford, he also yelled and got belligerent. He swore he never assaulted anyone. He went on about how unfair and outrageous it was that he was being accused of such a thing when he’d always been such an upstanding citizen.

Some people thought he seemed credible and that the intensity of his emotions suggested  he had been wrongfully accused while others suggested he was putting on an act and crying crocodile tears. I personally do not doubt that his emotions were genuine. I think he was every bit as angry and upset as he appeared to me. However, I don’t think it was the anger of a man who was wrongfully accused. I think it was the anger of a man who was rightfully accused. It was the anger of a man who was suddenly being held accountable for actions he had gotten away with all his life. It was the anger of a man who was used to praise and adulation having harsh words spoken against him. It was the  anger of a man having a position he felt he was entitled to jeopardized.

He opened with some conspiracy theories about how the democrats were out to get him and shared some anecdote about how at dinner the other night his little daughter said the family should pray for Dr. Ford. I guess the anecdote was supposed to be heartwarming but I found it nauseating because the subtext seemed to be “My daughter is so pure of heart that she was able to find compassion for this evil woman who wronged our family.”

Kavanaugh acknowledged that someone may have assaulted Dr. Ford but was adamant that it wasn’t him. If someone assaulted Ford and several years ago Ford claimed that someone was Kavanaugh and this whole thing is a Democrat conspiracy against him, how exactly does Ford fit in to that conspiracy? I guess in 2012 the Democrats anticipated that six years later Kavanaugh would be nominated for Supreme Court justice and they realized they had to somehow stop him from getting the position so they came up with a devious plan. They searched far and wide for a woman who had been sexually assaulted by an unknown man until they found Dr. Ford and hypnotized her in to believing it was Kavanaugh that did it.

I don’t really know what the supposed explanation is because maddeningly, Kavanaugh was never asked to give one. This was in contrast to Ford who was asked to explain everything. She freely admitted when she didn’t remember some things and later that scumbag Trump mocked her for it.

Kavanaugh kept trying to claim he was exonerated by the other people at the party saying they don’t remember the event but it doesn’t work like that. What are the chances you would remember a small party you went to 36 years ago if nothing significant happened to you there?

Even putting aside the issue of sexual assault, Kavanaugh clearly lied in court multiple times. For example, boofing is not farting like he claimed and Devil’s Triangle is not a drinking game like he claimed. In other words, he committed perjury but sadly no one seems to care. It’s just another example of him being immune from consequences for his actions.

As I listened to Kavanaugh repeatedly evade the questions he was asked, I was reminded of something my friend Delilah says. When she asks someone a question and they reply in a way that doesn’t answer the question, she replies to them “That’s the answer to the question …… I asked you…….”

Brett Kavanaugh,  “I went to church every Sunday, I was captain of the basketball team, I graduated at the top of my class, I got in to Yale, I volunteered with the developmentally disabled, I’m a respected lawyer” is the answer to the question “What life accomplishments are you most proud of?” You were asked if you would consent to an FBI  investigation.

Of course that begged the question of why he wasn’t advocating for an FBI investigation. Dr. Ford said an FBI investigation would be helpful and you’d think Kavanaugh would be eager to have his name cleared by the FBI since he’s so innocent. Also, I hate to burst anyone’s bubble but going to church, going to Yale, getting good grades-none of that precludes being a rapist or sexual assaulter, just like being an alcoholic does not preclude achieving any of those things. I don’t know if Kavanaugh is an alcoholic but does anyone actually believe that he only drank in moderation and never blacked out from drinking? I’ve got a bridge to sell you…

I realize this is kind of like criticizing the paint job on the Titanic but was anyone else horrified that all those creepy, rapey, sexual comments were published in the school yearbook? When I heard about them I assumed one of the dirtbag students had written them in pen when he signed Kavanaugh’s yearbook but no, they were there in print with the school’s approval

Anyway, the hearing was a circus and a shit show. The Republicans became outraged on Kavanaugh’s behalf and made him out to be the victim. Men turning themselves in to the victims in this me too era is really disgusting and I have to agree with the commentator who said this hearing  was a big “you know what” to women but since I don’t have to abide by FCC guidelines, I’ll say it was a big fuck you to women.

As I said on Facebook, with all the men whining about how terrified they are by the me too movement, a business that specializes in manufacturing microscopic violins could make a real killing right now.

Most of the commentators seemed to agree that nothing was really accomplished by the hearing because people were just going to see what they wanted to see. It was described as a political Rorschach. Sometimes Rorschach tests are used to diagnose mental illness and I say that if you watched that hearing and your sympathy is with Brett Kavanaugh and not Dr. Ford, there’s something wrong with you.

Most of the commentators also believed that Brett Kavanaugh would be appointed to the Supreme Court. My heart sunk when I heard that because I’m afraid they’re right. I was happy when after being pressured by sexual assault survivors in the elevator, Jeff Flake delayed the vote and ordered an FBI investigation in to Kavanaugh but I’m afraid that was just a stopgap measure meant to appease. Now the FBI investigation is complete and signs are pointing to Kavanaugh getting confirmed. I’ll probably have more to say when/if that happens but for now I’m going to hope against hope that the senate does the right thing and votes against Kavanaugh. This is not a man who deserves to be a Supreme Court justice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Me Too

Never before have I seen two simple words have such an impact on so many people. The first friend I saw the ‘me too’ from had told me about some of her experiences with sexual harassment and assault so I already knew she’d been a victim of it.  But her post was followed by  ‘me too”s from friends of mine who had never told me about being victims of sexual assault/harassment before so it was news to me. And it wasn’t just two or three or four or five of my friends who posted “me too’.  Dozens of them did.

On an abstract level I knew how common sexual assault and harassment were. On an abstract level I felt sad for all the victims of it that were nameless and faceless to me. This Facebook campaign took the issue of sexual assault/harassment out of the realm of the abstract and in to the realm of real life for me. All those victims of it were not just numbers without a name or a face but people I knew and cared about. Their experiences were not statistics, they were tragedies.

After I’d been seeing ‘me too’ statuses for about 24 hours I wrote a status that said  “All the ‘me toos’ I’m seeing are heartbreaking. I’m lucky to not be able to say ‘me too’.”

That status wasn’t entirely truthful though. Years ago I’d had a scary experience with sexual harassment that left me feeling quite shaken. However since I hadn’t been raped or even touched I wasn’t sure if my experience counted.

The next day I decided that my experience did count. I know feeling like their experience ‘doesn’t count’ is one of the reasons women stay silent about being sexually harassed or assaulted.  Even though the campaign only called for women to say ‘me too’ and not to share their stories, I decided I wanted to share mine. I wrote:

“I said I couldn’t say ‘me too’ yesterday but there was that time a strange guy banged on my windows at night, saying “Hey baby, my name is Mike, I’m going to stick it in you.” I called the police. They asked if I was drunk and then they suggested it was an April Fools joke. The police came over and when they left the guy started harassing me again. I called the police again but they didn’t come back again. They told me to go to sleep but sleep didn’t come easy that night. Being threatened with sexual assault was terrifying for me so I can only imagine what people who actually have been sexually assaulted go through. Shame on all the “Mikes “out there and shame on all the gaslighting, victim blaming, minimizing law enforcement officials and members of society. My heart goes out to everyone who’s been a victim of sexual assault or harassment. Me too.”