Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s Testimony Made Me Realize Rape Culture Isn’t Going Away Any Time Soon
“I am here today not because I want to be. I am terrified. I am here because I believe it is my civic duty to tell you what happened...”
I didn’t think I was going to watch it. I learned that when I can’t control a situation, I have to try my best to stay out of it. When Trump first became President, I read every article, watched every speech from the new members of the White House, and listened to every more or less bona fide political podcast I could find. My educational background in Eastern European politics didn't help. I saw red flags everywhere, even in places the American media didn’t bother to look. I stressed myself out so much that by April, my immune system crashed and lead to a week of painful fevers and the inability to swallow or speak.
After that, I realized that I had to keep a cool head and focus on what I can do on a small scale with my platform, which is empower women and their thoughts and opinions. Through that, I thought, I would make some kind of small change - even if it was for one person.
Because of that, I didn’t think I would be able to listen to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s Testimony today. When she started speaking, I ran into another room. Even her first words felt like something raw ripped straight out from my chest. The humiliation. The dehumanization. Becoming a body. I heard it in those first words.
I was fidgeting, I kept pacing. But I came back to it. I needed to hear it out loud. I learned early on that listening to other people’s experiences of sexual assault made me feel less like I was at fault in what happened to me. So, I stood over my laptop and listened.
In the cracking of her voice, (in that almost indiscernible weight of speaking about your painful past, the same past that has plagued your life every day since), I heard my own pain. When she spoke about the details, she tensed, as if she could feel it happening to her younger self through layered folds of time. I am sure millions of women around the world, hearing her words, lived through their own experiences all over again.
And all over again, they were not believed. They were dismissed. There were thousands of questions. After it happens, you keep going over the details over in your head, holding your own hearing of your own memory. In your mind, there is a personal senate of old white men sitting in front of you trying to convince you that what you think happened didn't actually happen.
Questioning, processing, dismissing, and rewinding it all over again.
Today a family friend said, “That’s bullshit, it’s been so long, why is she coming out with it now? Why does it matter?”
I don’t know how to accurately explain that when it comes to sexual assault, time ceases to become a factor. It is always in the present tense in one dimension or other. On some level, you are still there. It must be a cosmic time loophole (someone should have told Einstein about it). That moment follows you like a shadow that fades at times, but never ceases to be attached to you no matter where you go. Darker one moment, almost invisible the next.
When Brett Kavanaugh started speaking, I realized something. Maybe he really doesn’t believe that he assaulted anybody at any point in his life. Maybe he truly thinks that whatever he’s done cannot be classified as anything harmful. He and his friend, after all, were just two friends having a really good time with each other. Maybe he really believes that she is an evil bitch trying to ruin his life. And can I really blame all the men up in arms about not believing her? There is almost no way to make them truly understand. No Facebook comment, no NowThis video is going to make them change their minds. This is evident more and more every day. And are there really women out there who lie about being raped to ruin lives of men who rejected them? Absolutely. Just as there are actually good, honest men out there. They’re rare, but they’re out there somewhere. (Trust me, I found one).
What hurts to realize the most is that we’re trying to dismantle a mindset that has been instilled in people for thousands of years, and we’re getting upset that it’s not happening overnight. Some women and men are worried that if women are believed that means men will lose their power and they would be able to be brought down by any woman who yells, “Rape!”. Mothers of sons are worried that their boys will fall victim to these wicked women. (I don’t know if it’s just me, but the few wonderful, non-problematic men I know don’t seem to have these problems.)
While Dr Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony made me angry because at that moment, I was her, Kavanaugh’s testimony made me angry because in him I saw every toxic frat fuckboy I met in college and high school. During his speech, Kavanaugh was that guy in my politics class in the MAGA hat that said, “Yeah, fuck you feminazi bitches, suck my dick, you’re gonna be our slave bitches!” to the only three girls in the class (who were crying) the day Trump won. Kavanaugh was the guy who dragged his blacked-out girlfriend down the stairs by her hair at a frat party to cheering and clapping of his fellow brothers. Kavanaugh was the guy who pushed me into a room and said, “Oh come on, just give me two minutes and I’ll give $50!” at a party where I came to pick up my drunk friend who managed to text me her location before the roofies in her drink kicked in.
Kavanaugh was evasive, aggressive, and rude to those questioning him. When Sen. Amy Klobuchar asked him if he ever in his life got blackout drunk, he kept answering her with “I don’t know, have you?” That sort of arrogant “have you?” gave me flashbacks to college and trying to have any sort of discussion with men that would challenge their world view, their actions, or their intelligence.
To have recently experienced the same behaviors as those which were discussed in today’s hearing made me realize more than ever that the problems are not going away, but escalating. Trump’s presidency seems to only have given a blessing to this kind of behavior. It has taught these boys, these almost-not-completely-men that even though you grab women by the pussy, sleep with pornstars while married, get peed on by hookers, assault at least 16 women...you can become president and have a ludicrous amount of people worship you and dismiss any claims of misdeed.
What can we do?
We can continue to tell the truth and listen.
Follow Daphna: @daphnaeremina