I write about subjects that do no harm because our world can do enough of that to us. That said, this is different.
There are fewer than a handful of times in my life when I recall being mad. It’s a repulsive emotion to me—one where I feel my blood boil, I am quick to judge, and would act on impulse rather than contemplation. All of that said, I would regret not taking the time to write this piece, as am so near-maddened with how some of our Senators reacted to the Ford-Kavanaugh hearing.
I would like to say we are solely facing a bipartisan issue in the Senate again, but sadly, on Friday I found myself staring at disturbed, old white men fighting for the wrong side. Their position was so evident that it couldn’t just be to protect their party’s representation on the Supreme Court… they believed what they were saying because they had to belittle this case. Because they are Kavanaugh’s.
Before I talk about the real issue that this is a systemic problem in our society, here are some hypotheticals.
It is possible the Republicans believe Judge Kavanaugh couldn’t have actually done the deed. Maybe it is ridiculous that the FBI has to investigate, but every victim should be allowed that right when claiming something so sensitive. And I don’t think our issue stems from Kavanaugh’s innocence at all.
Maybe it is the innate belief that the representation of these Republicans’ collective opinions is a longer-term for gain for our society over Dr. Ford’s long-term loss. However, if that is the case, they are wrong to think so due to the vast scope of what this case represents. Perhaps they only see this as one case, but I personally view the majority of Republicans choosing to dismiss Dr. Ford’s claims without an investigation as an attempt to silence every victim of sexual abuse, male or female. I don’t think their intention is to do so, however, that is what repeatedly happens in our society and silencing a victim is a historically dumb idea that has long-term consequences of allowing cycles of abuse to continue in a culture.
I became unable to grasp that these well-respected men frankly do not care about the voice of a woman enough to grant time for the FBI to investigate this case. That they are putting their political allegiance ahead of a citizen they are supposed to represent, thus letting every victim suffer and become silenced once again. If these Senators were after due diligence, time wouldn’t be a vital variable in the pursuit of the truth. However, they know it is possible that Kavanaugh did this as a kid because that happened all the time (~it doesn’t reflect on his character now,~ ~if he’s a bad guy, I sure as hell am,~ ~etc.~). Instead, they hold themselves at a higher, and lower, standard (thank god for Sen. Jeff Flake for some leeway here).
This issue brings to light a systemic problem Deirdre M. Bowen writes about in this powerful piece about the barometer of appropriateness for prep-school adolescence. It’s an amazing story, but you don’t need knocking over the head to get it. I don’t need to tell you that people, often young males who come off as gentlemen, take what is given to them, and then some, when it comes to girls. It’s not all men (I’m not hashtagging), but historically it’s a gender thing leaning this way. I’ve seen it, and I bet you have too.
Throughout my life I’ve seen privilege in action (sometimes it benefits me. Look—I have a freakin’ blog—that’s how much of a voice I am granted). My alma mater holds an unfortunate stereotype that students of a certain status can get away with actions that should carry stronger consequences. I bleed blue and white and scream, “Go Cats,” but I know that stereotype can be true. Barstool Sports sparked the “do you know what my dad does” meme for a reason. Those Chad’s and Brad’s exist all across the country and they’re exactly who Bowen writes about. Our cycle has not ended with Kavanaugh’s generation. Anyone can still be upstanding, charismatic, and of good faith, and still do bad things with horrific consequences.
I don’t know if Kavanaugh is guilty. I actually think he is probably a decent guy, even if I don’t agree with his political beliefs, but that does not grant him immunity from his possible history. Abuse and discrimination should be a thing of the past that somehow sneaks its way into the present every day. If he is guilty, that is exactly the cycle that needs to be stopped.
There needs to be change. Ultimately, that should be the end of abuse and discrimination by those who commit those actions, but I want to take whatever progressive steps possible until that is a reality. Our society shakes our fingers at such a fearful force that nobody would dare apologize for their misdoings years later—even if that’s how it should be, even if the actions never should have happened.
This is the issue I struggle with most because I want justice for victims and for abusers to acknowledge their wrongdoing—I want authentic apologies and regrets without anyone having been cornered. I sadly don’t think that day will come, because many don’t care enough or believe they harmed anyone. Their reputation and saving face is worth the risk of holding a dark secret until the day they die.
So what can an individual do to enact change when they’re on this side of the conversation? (I feel like my professors would have something ridiculously intelligent to say here). Other than voting in your local elections for who you assume are decent people and becoming more politically active, we need to be more open to communicate our issues. We also need to learn who these creeps are. When I say this, I’m kind of cringing at myself. I’m not blaming a single victim for not speaking out—we call Dr. Ford a hero for a reason—but our power is in our voice, and while that’s a terrifying thing, imagine if every monster knew they had to face the consequences of their actions. Imagine if it was the norm to speak.
I like to think I could do this if I heard an abuser of mine was running for a position of power. Much easier said than done, especially when society silences and even punishes victims. However, we opened this gateway of communicating and we can’t stop now. Accompanied with the sadness that it happened, I get the greatest sense of pride when a victim of abuse stands up because I know that person is facing his or her demons. It is about time we all take small steps to become our own heroes.
I sat down four hours ago and busted this out. This piece is probably full of errors and inconsistencies (send ’em my way and I’ll correct asap), but I am dedicated to researching this more because I am progressively angry about this issue. I want to hear alternative arguments for the other side and come to a better understanding about it all. I also want to come up with better solutions than suggesting victims come out of their comfort zone. I understand what it is like to not have the voice I am so grateful for now and know it is wishful thinking that the fear of speaking out will dissipate overnight.
In the meantime, if you are facing issues at work and can’t talk to HR in your company, there are organizations like BetterBrave that work to stop sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace. There are also people in your life who care about you and would help if they knew something was wrong. And if you don’t think you have a person like that, I will. I’ll at least talk to you about it with your absolute confidence.
I truly believe that the first step to solve any issue is communicating it—I sure as hell feel a lot less mad. We take such large chunks of problems to swallow alone that we often forget that we’re generally all in this together.
There was a time during the Presidential election cycle of 2016 when I couldn’t face social media due to the supersaturation of political posts. I don’t want this post to be that, and I understand there are other important worldly events going on. An earthquake and tsunami hit Indonesia, claiming over 1200 lives, a 13-year old kid in Philly was arrested for wielding a toy gun, hell, even Cardi B is having a bad week. And those are just some of the topics that are being talked about… Imagine the ones that are not.
Still, a lot of people having an opinion, even a shared opinion, does not necessarily mean we wouldn’t make progress in a conversation about the Kavanaugh issue. Let me know what you’re thinking, or where I’m ill-educated. I think we can really get somewhere.