Yesterday I was glued to the CBS news streaming from my laptop on the kitchen table, watching the emotional testimonies of Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh. Thankfully two out of four of my children were out with friends and my eldest was out at work so I didn’t need to feel bad for being completely immersed in what was going on across the pond. A subject close to my heart, I had no spare attention for anything other than the basics of caring for everyone (preparing food, cleaning teeth, bath time, bedtime etc).
I was very thankful it was a school day/work day and there was no one home earlier in the day to witness the tears streaming down my face as I listened to Dr Ford recount her story. My tears for her, for me and the thousands, perhaps millions of women watching around the world being triggered by their own #metoo experiences. An article this morning in the Guardian said
“Across America women were sobbing in their cars, shaking at their desks as well as protesting outside the US senate”.
This case for many people was not only about Dr Ford but something much deeper. I saw women united across social media, together in solidarity against a system of patriarchy that has routinely undermined so much pain and hurt suffered by women. Dr Ford bravely represented the millions of women who have been violated at the hands of millions of men.
I have spoken to many women for my own research and no one escapes these issues regardless of their views. More than 90% of women I have personally spoken to have suffered trauma ranging from sexual harassment through to rape and abuse by men, much of which seems to be deeply culturally ingrained as the norm. This is quite simply unacceptable in what we like to think is civilised society. I know that there are many good men out there but I also know that many good men have done bad things. Some even unwittingly.
What came across to me in the broadcast yesterday was Dr Ford’s openness. Clearly an educated woman, she answered every question put to her with dignity and credibility. In contrast Judge Kavanaugh’s statement expressed defensiveness, outrage and victimhood, claiming conspiracy. His statement contained emotion, yes, but even if you had committed a crime you could feasibly be embarrassed, mortified, devastated about what you have to lose and emotional about what your family is going through. What I personally would have liked to have seen was an example to the nation of introspection and self-examination. To hear that he had looked back over his life through a woman’s eyes, scrutinising every interaction to see whether he could have possibly caused any offence. Instead the whole scenario was completely out of the question, walls were up and defences drawn. He was certain, without question, that this was not in his character. He may be telling the truth that he doesn’t remember this incident but did he dare to question his own character at any point? We don’t know.
What sums it up for me is a quote I found from Glennon Doyle:
“No one really believes this woman is lying. If they vote him in: It is because they believe her and don’t care. We should stop saying believe. It is not about that any more. It is about whether or not they care.”
There could be people out there who doubt Dr Ford but the main question is “do they care?” Women are watching, waiting with baited breath for the leaders of this powerful country to stand up and say they care. That things must change for women. That women will be taken seriously.
In a culture that has silenced and minimised the pain of women I do feel empathy for the men who will be called to account. The rules are changing on them. But the rules MUST change. The blind eye is now having its vision restored. For the sake of us all in a civilised society, attention must be drawn to areas that are imbalanced and they must be brought into balance. This is not about revenge but about our daughters being safe and treated with respect. Justice perhaps but not revenge. We need a resolve to do better and be better moving forward.
What I would like to see is more of what is already in motion; truth being brought to light with open communication; Awareness being spread. I would like to see some self-examination and accountability. I would like to see public apologies by men who have behaved in a manner that they now, on reflection, find unacceptable.
But if we vilify them they will not come.
I like to think it will be better for the next generation. I already see a more equal playing field for them. Last night as I sat glued to my laptop my 18 year old son came back from work and moved my laptop away from me to the centre of the table. “What are you doing?” My tone was accusatory. He pulled up a stool. “I’m going to watch with you.”
Yesterday was an emotional day. This morning when I woke up my partner asked me “do you remember what you were dreaming last night? You were whimpering in your sleep.”
To all the other women whimpering in their sleep last night. I hear you. I believe her. Me too.