The Kavanaugh allegations led me to reach out to the man who had assaulted me decades before.
Let me tell you what life was like as a girl in Montgomery County, Maryland, in the early 1980s. I am a year older than Christine Blasey Ford and a year younger than Brett Kavanaugh. I grew up in Potomac, Maryland, a few miles from both Holton Arms, Ford’s school, and Georgetown Prep, which Kavanaugh attended, but I went to my local public high school, Churchill. Never mind that any girl who was in high school in Potomac during that era knew, through the whisper network, not to go to a Georgetown Prep party alone. That was a given. What was also a given is that “date rape,” as a term, was in its infancy. Most of us thought getting our bodies groped at a high-school party—or anywhere—was the unfortunate price we paid for having them, not something we would ever go to the police to report.
Even in junior high school, this was true. I have a vivid memory of my friend Marcia having her skirt ripped off her body in the middle of a bar mitzvah dance floor. It had snaps down the middle. I actually heard one boy say, as she was weeping in a corner, trying to refasten her skirt, “I mean, duh. If you’re going to wear snaps on your skirt, what do you think will happen?” I made a mental note: Never wear snaps to a dance party.
Luckily, I survived high school without getting more than ickily groped now and then, but my luck ran out in college. I fell victim to a number of random assaults by strangers, including two robberies at gunpoint, all of which then became fodder for my senior thesis, but I wasn’t actually date raped until the night before my graduation, in June of 1988. Or maybe it was May. I don’t actually...……………...
Merde, alors, Patricia. That business about the snap-skirt is so ridiculous. I mean, at least with snaps, it could be put back together. What if there were no snaps and it were ripped and permanently damaged? Someone tell me that a lack of snaps would have stopped that dolt. I dare ya.
Meantime, Steve Shives has taken his own poke at the whole issue of women coming forward after being sexually assaulted, with reference to the current Kavanaugh / Ford situation, and I thought what he had to say is worth repeating:
And as I told Steve, what we got here is a BAD case of male privilege, which is why the GOP Senators are all crying foul when Ford and now another woman have come forward to put their stories on the record. They're threatened with having their free ride taken away, poor babies.
The biggest problem here is that men are not mentally aware of a possibility of walking down a street and being attacked or raped. Anything can happen but men in general do not have this fear. Men also are not wanting to dress in a manner as to stop any attacks from happening. It's just NOT something that men think of. Women deal with these thoughts every single day.
Was it funny that she had her skirt ripped off of her? Why would anyone think this was what snaps were for? We forget that zippers were first made to make rape easier to commit. This is how a man's mind works. Next, a man wants to defend himself with line s like "asking for it." The assholery male has invented many ways here to hide intent.
You have hit it precisely, Michael. Women know almost as a matter of course that they are targets for multiple forms of sexual imposition, whereas men rarely if ever experience such a thing. A man who fails to engage empathy will also fail to have any understanding for women's point of view and resulting fear. Add male privilege to this mix and you have the current mess.
One saving grace is the one-week period which began yesterday, wherein the investigation into Brett Kavanaugh's accusers has been reopened. I have heard it reported that, once that announcement was made, action was being immediately taken to find witness and schedule interviews, to review evidence and verify reports and testimony. Honestly, I would love to learn, after those 168 hours, that the allegations against Kavanaugh were at least sufficiently substantiated that his candidacy for the Supreme Court could no longer be considered tenable. If that also presented issues for his current position as an appellate court judge, that doesn't bother me, either.
Maybe it is wrong of me to say so, but Brett Kavanaugh insults me, with his attitude, his utter failure at projecting any kind of judicial demeanor (witness his behavior this past Thursday), and his unmitigated mendacity. I want him gone.
I feel as you do, Loren. On other media I have been attacked by college educated men who claim I want to be a part of "ruining Kavanaugh's life." WRONG! Kavanaugh is not going to lose anything here except the extra money he would get for a lifetime on the Supreme Court. He makes upwards of $15,000 per month now. If he loses the nomination his life goes back to normal in 2 weeks or a month.
It is Ford and the others who are taking a risk in this hearing, not Kavanaugh.
Could he not have just refused the nomination, & avoided a lot of issues if he didn't want his precious life scrutinized?
I don't think he honestly expected his past as a teenager to catch up to him. There are plenty of other issues that should have been disqualifying as well: his position that a sitting president should be immune from investigations or charges bearing on the legitimacy of his election (hence "'Above the Law' Kavanaugh"), and his having lied under oath to the Senate Judiciary Committee about stolen Democratic emails, both in 2004 and 2006 when he was being considered for his current seat on the nation's second most important court, the DC Circuit, and in this month's hearings.
Loren is right about his utter failure of judicial demeanor, and his unmitigated mendacity. He shouldn't be on any bench.
His position that a president should be above the law might be why he was chosen rather than any number of other far-right, pro-corporate, anti-abortion, anti-contraception, anti-women's-autonomy, etc. possible nominees who never attempted to rape anyone.
Men ask why women are so pissed off. Even guys with wives and daughters.
Jackson Katz, a prominent social researcher, illustrates why. He's done it with hundreds of audiences.
"I draw a line down the middle of a chalkboard, sketching a male symbol on one side and a female symbol on the other.
Then I ask just the men: What steps do you guys take, on a daily basis, to prevent yourselves from being sexually assaulted?
At first there is a kind of awkward silence as the men try to figure out if they've been asked a trick question.
The silence gives way to a smattering of nervous laughter. Occasionally, a young a guy will raise his hand and say, 'I stay out of prison.'
This is typically followed by another moment of laughter, before someone finally raises his hand and soberly states, 'Nothing. I don't think about it.'
Then I ask the women the same question. What steps do you take on a daily basis to prevent yourselves from being sexually assaulted?
Women throughout the audience immediately start raising their hands.
As the men sit in stunned silence, the women recount safety precautions they take as part of their daily routine.
Hold my keys as a potential weapon.
Look in the back seat of the car before getting in.
Carry a cell phone.
Don't go jogging at night.
Lock all the windows when I sleep, even on hot summer nights.
Be careful not to drink too much.
Don't put my drink down and come back to it; make sure I see it being poured.
Own a big dog.
Carry Mace or pepper spray.
Have an unlisted phone number.
Have a man's voice on my answering machine.
Park in well-lit areas.
Don't use parking garages.
Don't get on elevators with only one man, or with a group of men.
Vary my route home from work.
Watch what I wear.
Don't use highway rest areas.
Use a home alarm system.
Don't wear headphones when jogging.
Avoid forests or wooded areas, even in the daytime.
Don't take a first-floor apartment.
Go out in groups.
Own a firearm.
Meet men on first dates in public places.
Make sure to have a car or cab fare.
Don't make eye contact with men on the street.
Make assertive eye contact with men on the street.”
― Jackson Katz, The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help
(The first man to minor in women's studies at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, holds a master's degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and a Ph.D. in cultural studies and education from UCLA.)
Excellent post. Thanks.