Hello and welcome.
This blog is an offshoot of my memoir A Couch Named Marilyn. Since publishing the book in 2015, when potential readers asked me what the book was about, I was never sure where to start except with a gulp and pause. Now, today, I can simply say: It’s another #MeToo story, and people get it.
For readers of A Couch Named Marilyn, there is no need to connect the dots for you to understand why the hubbub around the confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh leaves me feeling ill and deeply discouraged. As a victim of assault, and as a feminist in this culture, I am losing sleep over Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s predicament.
I believe her story; and as someone who survived a traumatic attack, I can tell you that the name and face of my perpetrator is an uninvited image that remains in the forefront of my memory and imagination. He appears at random moments each day to remind me of our messy and indelible connection that will forever impact my life as a human being. I am careful to say “impact” v. “ruined”, and in the same breath feel the lasting and invisible wounds that feel more like tarnish than decimation. Ironically, that makes me one of the “lucky” MeTooers. My life has not been ruined, while many women’s lives have been crushed by the injustice of a man’s abuse of power.
For me to say that Dr. Blasey Ford is taking it for the team is a bold and respectful understatement. This is why I am losing sleep. For two and a half years I lived in dread of facing and accusing the man who attacked me (herein called The Guy) in a Texas courtroom. I did not know if I would be heard, believed, or protected. In my memoir, I described my ongoing mental preparation to face a judge and jury. There was not a day gone by that I did not fret about facing the assailant and speaking my truth in court.
Was I going to be accurate enough? Would the defendant’s public defender rake me through the coals? Would I be questioned as to what I was wearing or why I let a stranger into my home? (Quick answer: I was selling real estate.) I wondered how it would feel to look at his actual face compared to the uninvited image in my memory. What if they believed him? The list of internal nightmares went on and on, around and around in my mind. Once again, I call myself a “lucky” one. I was heard, believed, and protected in court, and The Guy (who claims he remembers nothing of the day in question) is serving his time in prison.
It sucks to watch someone lie under oath.
When planning this blog site, I had no intention of building a political statement, but my timing intersected with the Senate nomination of a Supreme Court judge, and the misogynistic side of this argument has me on fire. I am surprised at the depth and vehemence of my anger over the characteristic blaming and public shaming directed to women who speak unpleasant truths to protect their safety and rights, while many perpetrators have enjoyed a remarkable history of protection. Our daily news is a case in point.
Look, I love some men; I was born to a wonderful father, have an honorable brother, close male friends, and a man of integrity as a partner. Heck, I’m talking to a male therapist these days. I do not hate men, yet I abhor the actions of men who rape, kill, verbally abuse, and discredit women.
I cannot sleep for thinking of Professor Blasey Ford. I try to imagine her self-described terror of recounting details of a traumatic experience to a room heavily weighted with men who stand at a point of privilege: they have not been traumatized, or at least they are not admitting it. Many on the senate floor somehow think that they are free to righteously expound on the goodness of this man, yet claim that the woman would put her life and that of her family in jeopardy because she has political motivations. The inequity is profound.
Don’t most of these deniers have sisters, wives, daughters, or mothers who have been the targets of rape or attempted rape? Are their lives that clean and innocent that violent crimes have not touched their lives? I am not a statistician, yet this does not pencil out. The daily news verifies my math; how can these deniers look at the women in their lives and believe they are free from possible assault, or from hiding the shameful truth about their trauma?
These same men reason that the incident happened 36 years ago, so of course she doesn’t remember much. I can say this with certainty: traumatized people remember the triggering event. Time does not erase all of our memories. Traumatized people have enough to cope with without facing a senate floor hearing, a courtroom of liars, or a president mocking her testimony.
As to the unsavory argument that if it happened she would have reported it, or her parents would have reported it – I say BS. Several days ago I relayed a story to my SO about a friend who was drugged and gang raped in the 1980’s. What struck me in this re-telling was the chilling realization that she and I never even considered reporting the rape. We knew that would only lead to more shame and exposure.
We are looking back at the Anita Hill /Clarence Thomas hearing and the pundits say it is a different time – “things are better now.” My mantra seems to be “I sure wish things were better now.” One of the biggest heart breaks of my life occurred during the Hill/Thomas hearings. As I said before, I am blessed to have had a wise and caring father. Yet he believed Clarence Thomas. By 1991, I had gained a substantial amount of experience working in some pretty rough environments where the majority of people were white men. Some of those men were absolute princes, while a large portion of them were disrespectful, lewd, threatening, arrogant, and felt comfortable and entitled to the kind of behavior Anita Hill described.
She was telling our ugly truth that most men did not want to hear – even my highly educated and supportive father believed Clarence Thomas. My father was an absolute gentleman who would never condone lewd actions; he simply refused to believe that a man would be so vile. So despite Anita Hill’s clarity and courage combined with my own (highly filtered) experiences in the workplace, my father still believed the man.
Not much has changed since then, if a majority of these old senate geezers think they have the right and responsibility to refute a woman’s claim of attempted rape. The likes of Lindsay Graham seemed fine and righteous about their decision to side with a potential perpetrator prior to any in-depth investigation. Since some of those pasty old farts don’t “believe” in science (i.e. global warming,) a polygraph is still not enough to believe the victim, if she is a woman.
Most Americans believe in due process and Mr. Kavanaugh’s right to be heard. I agree. To the people who believe that Christine Blasey Ford would put herself in this dangerous and shaming position so the republicans lose this possible Supreme Court position, you prove that a case can be made for anything. Really, show some compassion for her unenviable situation. Give me a reasonable rationale why a woman would do this. Traumatized individuals need and deserve to tell the entire world how it feels to be the victim. And in this case, how it feels to have her assailant rise to the highest court in America while many of us, and certainly she, believes he is a lair. Truth tellers pay a high price in our world.
I turn on the television and watch these old farts puff and spout in virtuous indignation; “this is a very good guy. Yes, she was credible, she had a terrible experience, but she is mistaken; it was not Brett Kavanaugh.” Subtext: Can’t she just be quiet and “pleasing” and let us get on with filling the Supreme Court with men who want to overturn Roe v. Wade? They continue: “Leave him alone. He has BEEN THROUGH HELL FOR THE LAST TEN DAYS. This is a very good man.” I hear that and pray for Patience. Two questions come to mind: How do we measure or count the years of hell assault victims live through, and what is the average waiting time for someone to go to trial on Judge Kavanaugh’s court?
As with Anita Hill, Dr. Ford is in the unappealing position to get slammed for telling her truth. Yes, the Me Too movement is pulling back the curtains, and it is gratifying to be alive to see the opening of truth, but Baby, I am afraid we still have a long way to go.
I am pleading with the good guys and women of all backgrounds to do something different. Jeff Flake did something different. I applaud his actions, though calling him a hero is beyond my scope. The women who got to that elevator and spoke from their hearts are my heroes.
This blog is my attempt to do something other than nothing. I want my sordid memories and pain to make a positive difference. Maybe my sick humor and sardonic nature will add a touch of laughter to this depressing time. I understand that my point of view will be refuted and criticized by many, including those who have not lived Dr. Blasey Ford’s, or my past. Sadly, I have learned to expect and accept the sharp and immediate denial of my voice because that expectation eliminates an element of surprise and personal pain. I am prepared for criticism and denial, and I imagine Dr. Blasey Ford is developing a similar callus.
Now the courageous and reticent Professor Blasey Ford faces ridicule and denial for speaking her truth, even before the results of the FBI inquiry are complete. Our president mocked her at his propaganda rally and ranted about men’s lives being unfairly ruined by false claims against them.
I have no words to measure or describe how much determination and energy it takes to thrive despitebeing a victim. Dr. Blasey Ford is educated and authentic, despite her struggle with trauma. Thousands of abused women have suffered and thrived in silence – for much longer than a couple of weeks.