Ok. Ok ok ok. Lots of feces hitting fans over the past week. Being thrown from all directions.
I don’t pretend to know what it’s like to be sexually assaulted. I don’t pretend to know what it’s like to be wrongfully accused of sexual assault. I think it’s fair to say, they both sound horrific.
Tempers are high from all sides of this Kavanaugh/Ford circus. I have 1.5 cents of my own to throw in here.
First of all, I wasn’t in that room up the narrow set of stairs at the house party back in the Summer of 1982. Partially because I was six years old and in another state.
You weren’t there either. And neither were the 73-trillion other people who have opinions about “what really happened”. Did he knowingly do everything she described? Maybe. Did she make it up because she loves the Clintons and all things Democrat and abortion rights? Maybe. (Probably not.) Did he get so wasted that he has no recollection of the events, despite the documentation in his trusty, dusty calendar? Perhaps.
Unfortunately for both of them, smartphones did not exist, and on-the-shoulder video cameras were just too clunky to lug around when you’re groping and restraining a peer while intoxicated. So we will never have hard-core evidence of said event, and that is eternally unsettling for all involved.
Here’s what’s pissing me off: all of us.
As many headlines tend to do, this drama is hitting us deep in our cores and bringing out all sorts of feelings and opinions and theories. For some of us, it’s even conjuring up horrifying memories and traumas of our own.
A former student of mine, who is now in college, shared this nugget today… and I just had to look it up for myself to see if it was real:
First of all, the guy looks like Paul Sorvino’s portrayal of that jerky Reverend Willie Willams from the movie Oh, God, but that’s neither here nor there. What caught me was his fantastic and asinine opening line: “If someone did not commit sexual assault in high school, then he is not a member of the male sex.”
What the hell male yardstick is he using? If I were a member of the male sex, I would be outraged by that. I attended high school in the 1990s, followed by college and grad school in the later 90s. I was lucky enough to escape these years without experiencing traumatic sexual assault of any kind, and unfortunately too many people – males and females – can not say the same. But I can say this: I knew a lot of males over the course of those years. Many of them were relatives or close friends of mine, and I also dated a few (some more seriously than others.) I even married and had kids with one of them. Not a single one of them is a “questionable” member of the male sex. Not anatomically, and not due to unsatisfactory fulfillment of the above mentioned sexual assault alleged pre-requisite.
He goes on to draw a comparison between playing spin-the-bottle and rape, followed by calling certain members of our country “tutu-wearing pansies”, a phrase lovingly passed down from other “male” patriarchs of his family, I’m sure. Then the idiot goes on to completely contradict himself by also calling Democrats people who “…lack virility, a sense of decency, or masculine judgment…” He and I must have different dictionary editions.
Now, this next thing I’m about to say may piss some people off, but I must. There are the Bill Cosbys of society – I think we can all agree that inserting mind-altering, black-out-inducing chemicals into another person’s bloodstream and then touching them in their “bathing suit” areas counts as rape – and then there are the Louis CKs of society. Who, in my opinion, did not rape or sexually assault anyone.
As a card-carrying Vagina Having Club member, I think I’m entitled to have an opinion about this. I haven’t ever been raped or sexually assaulted. I have, however, been in a handful of situations where the guy I was with has suggested or requested that we engage in some kind of activity that I found icky. At which point, I would decline. And in some cases, I would fucking leave! Of my own volition! This is not rape or assault. This is just ickiness. There is a difference between FORCING and BEING ICKY.
I feel this is important to illustrate, because:
- It’s not uncommon to find yourself in a situation that you wish you weren’t in, especially when it’s due to your own poor judgment and/or alcohol consumption.
- It’s not uncommon for people, both male and female, to let our guards down and misjudge where the line is when it comes to someone else’s comfort level – again, especially when alcohol consumption is involved..
- It’s ok to remove yourself from either of the above situations.
It is not ok, however, to call something RAPE or ASSAULT, just because in retrospect you regretted it or it made you feel icky, if it’s something you engaged in consensually. To call this rape or sexual assault is a colossal slap in the face to all people who have actually been raped or sexually assaulted. It also dilutes real allegations of rape/assault – and listen to me carefully – which are just as legitimate whether they occured at 3am this morning or 36 god-damn years ago.
I don’t know which category all of the people in the current political spotlight fall into, and I never will. I know that if Dr. Ford is inventing all of these claims that are really fiction, we have another brand of bat-shit crazy that needs examining. I know that Brett K’s antics did not showcase the prettiest side of his personality. I already wasn’t thrilled about him in light of the actual political issues at hand (ie, Roe v. Wade). This is separate from whether he sexually assaulted anyone.
But we need to be careful about the gross generalizations we make across all layers of this kind of situation. “All men…” don’t do anything. “All women…” don’t do anything. “All Democrats…”, “All Republicans…”, “All adolescents…” – you’ve heard these statements before. Nothing makes me tune you out quicker than when you blanket an entire demographic with a sweeping umbrella “fact”. This isn’t about Trump, or Russia, or anything else.
I don’t think a round of applause or award needs to go to each person who didn’t sexually assault someone in high school (or after). This is a given, and is also the bare minimum requirement of “decency”, contrary to the statements of our blogging friend from the above link. I think accountability needs to happen at the individual level. Every time.
There, I’m done now.