Many, many women have experienced sexual harassment or outright sexual assault. And many women, while they might have told a close friend, didn’t share their experience with others at the time or report it to the authorities. For all women who have experienced sexual assault or rape, coming to terms with what happened to them is a long, painful, and sometimes lonely process.
It’s common for sexual assault survivors to feel anger or rage toward a system that seems to protect the perpetrator over the victim, toward institutions they feel should do a better job of protecting women, and toward people who didn’t believe them.
To project that anger or rage onto Brett Kavanuagh, or to anyone supporting his nomination, not only does a disservice to him; it does a disservice to your cause as well (assuming that your cause is to help survivors and not just to #Resist).
Brett Kavanaugh didn’t attack you.
Jeff Flake didn’t attack you.
Members of Congress are not calling you a liar.
Just because you didn’t report your attack for years, doesn’t mean that everyone who reports an attack should automatically be believed.
The most grotesque example of this lame belief system occurred Friday morning, when two women cornered Sen. Jeff Flake in an elevator and screamed at him. One of them said (emphasis mine):
“I was sexually assaulted, and nobody believed me. I didn’t tell anyone, and you’re telling all women that they don’t matter. That they should just stay quiet because, if they tell anyone what happened to them, you’re going to ignore them. That’s what happened to me, and that’s what you’re telling all women in America — that they don’t matter, they should just keep it to themselves, because if they have told the truth, you’re just going to help that man to power anyway. That’s what you’re telling all of these women. That’s what you’re telling me right now. Look at me when I’m talking to you. You’re telling me that my assault doesn’t matter. That what happened to me doesn’t matter. And that you’re going to let people who do these things into power. That’s what you’re telling me when you vote for him. Don’t look away from me. Look at me and tell me that it doesn’t matter to what happened to me. That you’ll let people like that go into the highest court of the land and tell everyone what they can do to their bodies.”
My colleague Alex Parker did a great job of explaining this faulty logic, but I thought I would add a woman’s perspective.
It’s obvious by reading this woman’s words that she has a lot of issues she still needs professional help with resulting from her trauma. Projecting that onto a stranger who has nothing to do with her particular case isn’t helpful to her mental status.
I was sexually assaulted – date raped – in college. I was extremely intoxicated and that was my fault. But I was with my best guy friend, who was also intoxicated, so I thought I was safe. What I don’t understand about Christine Blasey Ford’s story is the lack of detail. I still remember exactly where I was, and remember laying there trying to mouth “no” and not being able to. I remember being unable to stop it, and how helpless I felt. I didn’t tell anyone because, hey, it was my best guy friend, who I’d had a crush on, so obviously I must have wanted it. Right?
I remember being back in our hometown and being with his family, who were like family to me, while holding this horrible secret. I remember blaming myself. Years later, when I visit our college town, I know exactly which dorm it was, which window I was looking out of as I was raped at 3 in the morning.
I remember trying to still be friends with him, and months later overhearing him and his roommates joking about sexual experiences and saying, “It wasn’t date rape – we never went on a date!” and laughing.
But guess what? All of that has exactly zero to do with Brett Kavanaugh or Christine Blasey Ford.
We must look at Dr. Ford’s accusations without letting our view be colored by past personal experiences.
When the Senate votes to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, they will not be telling ANYONE that they don’t matter. They will not be telling women who have been raped to be quiet or that their assault doesn’t matter. They will be telling the American people that they have confidence in this man and in the impartial rule of law.