Sunday, September 16, 2018

And here we go again

This time her name is Christine Blasey Ford.  This time she wasn't harassed on the job, she was sexually assaulted while in high school, by yet another man seeking to ascend to the high court partially so that he can reassert government (male) control over women's bodies.

Speaking publicly for the first time, Ford said that one summer in the early 1980s, Kavanaugh and a friend — both “stumbling drunk,” Ford alleges — corralled her into a bedroom during a gathering of teenagers at a house in Montgomery County.
While his friend watched, she said, Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed on her back and groped her over her clothes, grinding his body against hers and clumsily attempting to pull off her one-piece bathing suit and the clothing she wore over it. When she tried to scream, she said, he put his hand over her mouth.
“I thought he might inadvertently kill me,” said Ford, now a 51-year-old research psychologist in northern California. “He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing.”
I don't know many women to whom something like this has NOT happened.  It happened to me.  I wrote about it any number of times at the old place, but for those who don't know, here it is:

It was the fall of 1974.  I was doing a lot of partying at frat houses at a nearby college.  I was never stumbling drunk, because in those days, most of what was available at frat houses was beer, and I really did not like beer.  But I would get tipsy enough to get flirtatious and when I got flirtatious I ended up in bed with people I might not have otherwise.  Or maybe I would.  After all, I was not one of the pretty girls to whom the guys flocked.  There was a boy at my school who had already branded me as "The Evil Troll" for no good reason at all. So yes, there was a certain amount of nihilism in what I was doing -- "If that's how the game is played, that's how I'll play it."  I was hanging around with other girls who were doing the same, so I did it too. 

I had met the boy in question the summer before at a bar my friends and I used to go to.  He was attractive, went to said nearby school, drove a cool sports car, and he offered to drive me home, which I accepted.  He drove me home, and was a perfect gentleman.  I don't remember if I went on a date with him, I might have.

I ran into him at a frat party that fall, and agreed to go to his room.  Had I been more savvy, or less nihilistic, I would have realized that a guy whose frat house bed is on a raised platform with a desk underneath, and at one end of the bed was a full bar, and along the wall was a high-end stereo system, was not just inviting me back to listen to music.  I might have had sex with him anyway.  But I stupidly climbed up into the loft bed, and the next thing I knew I was being held down, pinned by my shoulders, and told that I was either going to "put out" or my clothes would be torn off and thrown out the window.

He wasn't joking.  So, like most women who are assaulted, I put my mind someplace else until it was over.  I wasn't about to challenge him.  I knew someone who had gotten drunk the semester before, gone off with a guy she had a crush on, and woken up naked in a frat house bed.  All of her clothes were gone except her coat and shoes.  She walked back to our campus in the dead of winter wearing nothing but her coat.  I think the coat was dark green. 

I was not about to follow in her footsteps.

After it was over, I gathered up my clothes and drove back to campus.  I remember thinking "That was a really stupid thing to do."

I did run into the boy again, at another frat party -- the last one I ever went to, because I heard "whispers" when I walked into the room.  I remember walking up to the boy and smacking him HARD across the face (not an easy feat, he was about a foot taller than I was), then turning around and leaving.  As I left, I heard laughter and knew it was not directed at me.

I never went to a frat party again.

The following semester, I met someone at my school and was with him until I graduated.  He was a year behind me and I broke off with him after graduation.  The relationship had grown stale by that time and it was the best thing for both of us.

I went on to live a normal life, including a normal sex life.  I know that seems like TMI, but it's important.  I met Mr. Brilliant when I was 28, and the rest is history.

For me, it was an unfortunate incident partially caused by my own incaution, an incident from which I learned that the sleeping around I was doing was NOT satisfying, it was NOT empowering, and I was getting what in 1974 was known as "a reputation."  It may have been 1974, but it was a provincial area of Pennsylvania, and the "double standard after the fact" was in full flower.  I never thought of it as a sexual assault until much later.  I thought of it as something dumb that I did.  The thought of "pressing charges" would never have entered my mind, and if it did, what would have happened?  I went to the boy's room willingly, and that would have been all anyone needed to know. 

I've been hard on Certain Bloggers who decades later insist on defining themselves as "survivors of rape."  I have never, and still don't, define myself as a "survivor of rape."  I don't have "triggers" -- at least not about an incident that happened 44 years ago.  It really didn't affect my life all that much.  Perhaps I was just more resilient than some people, or perhaps even with my lousy self-esteem, I recognized that a jerk in a frat house didn't define me.  Or maybe it was the slap.  I don't know.  I don't care.

Now if I heard that the boy in question was a Supreme Court nominee, would I feel an obligation to come forward?  Hell yes.  Would I have the guts?  I don't know.  What I do know is that what happened to Christine Blasey when she was 15 happened to me, with a different perp, when I was 17.  And I'll bet it's happened to one hell of a lot of women. many of whom have gone on to put it aside and go on with their lives. 

I don't know how many girls/women that boy went on to assault because of his feeling of privilege, that he had a right to stick his dick into any woman who came to his room,  I suspect I was not the only one.  I also suspect that he went on to get married, have a career, have kids, coach his son's little league team, take his daughter to soccer practice.  Maybe he's still married.  Maybe he became a drunk and had affairs.  I don't know.  Here's what I do know:  I know that sexual assault is not the natural order of things.  I know that even then there were boys who recognized that no meant no and that a girl can go to your room to listen to music.  And that is why it matters.  That is why what Brett Kavanaugh did in high school matters. It also matters because this is a man who detailed graphic sexual questions he thought Bill Clinton should have to answer.  This is a man who has called contraceptives "abortion-inducing drugs."  This is a man who kept a 17-year-old girl from having an abortion EVEN AFTER she had fulfilled all the legal requirements.

I don't know if Brett Kavanaugh still assaults women.  But his documented track record sure tells me that he'd still like to.


  1. I don't know whether Brett Kavanaugh still assaults women either. But I can predict that he most assuredly will the next time an abortion or birth control case comes before the Supreme Court.

    Yours crankily,
    The New York Crank

  2. As much as it angers and disgusts me, there has to be an understanding that it happened 40+ years ago. And if things weren't significantly different in those days, why are we now out there in force demanding a permanent change the status quo?

    I cannot think of a boy in high school who _wasn't_ hoping to shove something into a girl, whether it was his tongue into her mouth, his hand into her bra, his finger...or something else...into her vagina. That's what teenage boys did back in the dank ages. It was a sick rite of passage, but it was there. Yeah, we knew then it was wrong, and some girls refused to go along. But lots of others ended up in "compromising" positions.

    That, however, is different from an older guy grinding against or worse. That's assault of a different kind, and yes, there is a difference. But we're not talking about that. We're talking about humping teenagers.

    Your story is the perfect example of how many of us processed back then. It doesn't make it right or forgivable, but it was rare that a guy was called out for rape in situations like the one you described. And drunk makes a HUGE difference. As you point out.

    I don't know if her story is useful or not. In some ways, I think it damages her more than him. And that is really, really sad.


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