September 27th, 2018

CW: sexual assault

I’m currently watching the U.S. senate judiciary committee address Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.

Senator Dianne Feinstein is introducing Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and listing her accomplishments such as her multiple degrees, her peer-reviewed papers, and her two sons and marriage.

Now, Senator Feinstein is denouncing the Republicans’ conduct around the allegations. “In 1991, Republicans belittled Professor Hill’s experience…Today, our Republican colleagues are saying, “This is a hiccup. Dr. Ford is mixed up…” But in the last few days, two more women have come forward with their own allegations about sexual assault involving Brett Kavanaugh. All three women would like the FBI to investigate their investigations, but the Republicans will not allow it.

Kavanaugh has said he has never blacked out, never drank to the point of excess. But, several of his college classmates have come forward to say that this claim does not match their memory of him.

Dr. Christine Blasey Ford is about to speak. She’s wearing a blue suit. Her voice has a lighter timbre than I’d anticipated, with a bit of vocal fry. She says she is terrified, and her voice cracks. She believes it is her civic duty to report what Kavanaugh did to her in high school. This poor woman, I am thinking. I hope she survives what will happen to her after this is over. She has not had a lot of time to make this decision to go public. She’s talking about her summer she spent swimming and diving, the summer she met Brett Kavanaugh. She knows she will be asked how she got to the party. She doesn’t remember. But the details of he assault have been seared into her memory. When she got to the top of the stairs, she was pushed from behind. Brett and Mark (Judge) came into the bedroom and locked the door behind them. One of them turned the music up louder. Brett pushed her onto the bed and got on top of her. Grinding into her, groping her, trying to take off her clothes. She yelled. She believed he was going to rape her. Brett put her hand over her mouth to stop her from yelling. It was hard for her to breathe. She thought Brett was accidentally going to kill her. Brett and Mark laughed. A couple of times she made eye contact with Mark and thought he might help her, but he did not. Mark jumped on the bed, and Brett and Christine toppled off the bed. She escaped.

Brett’s assault drastically altered her life. She convinced herself that because Brett did not rape her, she should just move on. She waited until May 2012 during a couple’s counselling session to disclose the details of the assault. She and her husband had “quibbling” about a remodel of their home because Blasey Ford was insisting on a second front door, and her husband could not understand why. She finally disclosed the assault, the reason for the need for the second front door.

She was going to remain private. She did not want to expose her family to the inevitable hatred and threats from the public. Reporters pressured her, showed up at her home, urged her to come forward.

And now here she is. Twenty-seven years after Anita Hill. Another Supreme Court nominee accused of sexual misconduct, the same white Republican men judging Blasey Ford and not judging Kavanaugh.

“This was an extremely hard thing for me to do, but I couldn’t not do it.” Thousands of sexual assault survivors have reached out to thank her. Her family have also been the target of constant harassment and death threats. These messages have been terrifying and have rocked her to her core. She has been doxxed. Her family have been forced to move out of their home. Her email was hacked. Apart from the assault, this is the hardest time of her life. “My motivation in coming forward was to be helpful and provide facts about how Kavanaugh has damaged my life…It is not my responsibility to determine whether he deserves to sit on the Supreme Court; my responsibility is to tell you the truth.”

She ends by “requesting some caffeine,” and they offer her a Coke. This is America.

My mom would watch this hearing all day, or she would tape it on the VCR and we would watch it together after she got home from work, sitting on her bed, eating Mr. Noodle with Kraft cheese slices. I’m not sure if I’ll watch the whole thing.

Oh, okay, here’s Rachel Mitchell, the woman they hired to question Blasey Ford. She starts by saying that she is sorry that Blasey Ford is terrified. That’s interesting. The woman UBC hired to investigate the complainants never said anything like that in our meeting; she appeared very cynical from the get-go. When I heard the Republicans had hired a woman to do the questioning, I laughed. As if women can’t be misogynistic, I chortled. As if hiring a woman ensures that *she* will be able to get to the bottom of an assault, whereas a man would be too tipsy off his own gender to hear a victim through unbiased ears! Ha ha ha. But Mitchell has at least the verisimilitude of empathy, which is better than immediate suspicion, only because it might help put Blasey Ford at ease. I think any ease in a process like this is a gift. Oh, I see Rachel Mitchell is an expert in sex crimes. Now it all makes sense.

Senator Feinstein again asks her to go into the impacts of the assault. “The sequelae of sexual assault varies by person. Anxiety and PTSD type symptoms. Claustrophobia, panic, and that type of thing. The primary impact was in the initial four years after the impact. I struggled academically. I had a very hard time forming new friendships. I had academic problems.” You’d have to be there with her at that time to know the impact.

Senator Feinstein asks how she could know for certain it was Kavanaugh’s hand on her mouth but does not know for certain how she got to the party. She says, “Epinephrine and norepinephrine encode traumatic memories in the brain, whereas other details slip away.”

I’m going to go outside for a few minutes and feel the air on my face. My love for Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Professor Anita Hill, heroes.