Thursday, September 27, 2018

Uncovering the Truth

Today, the nation is standing by as we watch and listen to an ugly, painful, personal account of when privilege thinks it can do whatever it wants whenever it wants to whomever it wants.

I am, of course, talking about the testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford as she recounts what happened to her many years ago when she was attending a party at a private high school in Washington, DC. Dr. Ford has stated that an inebriated 17-year-old white boy named Brett Kavanaugh attempted to rape her when she was a teenager. Kavanaugh is a nominee for a lifetime Supreme Court appointment. A lifetime appointment. A lifetime of making decisions that will affect the lives of all of us in this country, and especially the women of this country.

Dr. Ford is not the only woman who has accused Kavanaugh of attempted or actual rape. Two others, Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick, also say Kavanaugh attacked them during roughly the same period. The Republicans and the man who calls himself the President of the United States have refused to honor the request of the women to have the FBI investigate their stories. An odd decision if they want to clear the name of the man...their man...accused of these assaults. They also have refused to subpoena Kavanaugh's friend, Mark Judge, who was also present during the alleged assault of Dr. Ford at that prep school party. Judge apparently wrote a book, a fiction, in which one of the characters had a name remarkably similar to Kavanaugh was known as a drunkard who liked to put notches in his belt in his conquests of girls.

Instead, the Republicans have hired a female prosecutor with an expertise in sex crimes to be the primary interrogator of Dr. Ford.

While I don't know any of these women or Brett Kavanaugh, I know this culture of prep school in the 1980s. Male power, privilege, and entitlement were a toxic cocktail that existed unchecked and unchallenged in these places. Dr. Ford's story...and those of the other women...ring so true that in a strange way, I find myself shaken at a personal level. There were incidents very similar to these types of assaults that happened on my campus and the typical reaction from the school was to keep it all under wraps, with no police involvement, and punishment meted out by the school's Discipline Committee. In my Freshman year, there were members of the hockey team expelled for a violent sexual assault on a female student. It was a terrible and scary event, and I attempted to use it as a way of convincing my parents to please withdraw me from the school. After a weekend of discussion and tears, my parents convinced me that it was better for me to stay at the school. And so I did. And I still want the T-shirt that says, "I survived a New England prep school."

Listening to Dr. Ford, she sounds like women I have heard tell their stories of what happened to them in sexual assaults. Their voices are tense. They sound small. It is hard to listen to them. And yet their voices must be heard.

I believe her.