Edited to add: If you want to read insight from an optimistic person, look elsewhere. Also, I never said I was giving up demanding for progress. I just said I have no hope that we’ll see it in my lifetime. But it’s either keep fighting for it for the sake of later generations or sit on my ass and do nothing, and I would rather die fighting for progress.
I texted back and forth with my mom all throughout the Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh hearing. She told me that, although the hearing was heartbreaking to watch, it gave her a shred of hope.
“The GOP may very well continue with this confirmation, but it will be tainted,” she told me. “If that does happen, it will only motivate more women to vote in November, [and] it will keep Republican folks home.”
My response was less than eloquent. “It’s all bullshit,” I said, referring to how I believe Dr. Ford’s sexual assault allegations against Mr. Kavanaugh will unfortunately ultimately not amount to any progress. “This isn’t going to change anyone’s minds.”
My mom, though, the ever-optimist, kept going. “No. This is a good thing,” she encouraged. “The country needs to see not only her testimony but also the way the Republicans have chosen to deal with it.”
On C-SPAN 3, where I and thousands of others watched the hearing yesterday, many people called in on the Democrat, Republican, and independent phone lines to voice their opinions, as is normally done during these types of broadcasts.
“She is lying like a dog,” the first caller, identified as James from Princeton, Indiana, told C-SPAN’s Steve Scully. “Listen, she said so much inconsistent in her statements that you could drive a Mack truck through it.”
James didn’t stop there. Instead, he went into threat territory. “She can’t remember this. She can’t remember that, can’t remember, can’t remember, can’t remember,” James continued. “I wish that dang prosecutor would say, ‘Listen, I need more than five minutes, and I could take her to the woodshed.’”
“Take her to the woodshed” — for those like myself who aren’t familiar with archaic, Southern idioms — means to punish, reprimand, or reprove someone, especially discreetly, secretly, or in private, according to the idiom’s entry on The Free Dictionary.
Wait, isn’t that exactly what Dr. Ford is accusing Mr. Kavanaugh of doing to her? Yes. So in response to her accusing him, some random guy from Indiana is saying (on national television) this type of violent act should happen to her? Yup. Does he see the irony in his statement? Probably not.
The next caller was unfortunately similar in tone. The caller, identified as Tracy from Riverton, Wyoming, accused Ford of “putting on an act.”
“I just feel that she is very scripted,” Tracy said, offering no evidence to back up his claims. “You can just tell she’s lying.”
Plenty of women flooded the C-SPAN phone lines, too. Most of them told their own heart-wrenching stories of being assaulted, some of them saying Dr. Ford compelled them to come out with their own stories. Others said they never reported what happened to them for various reasons, defending Dr. Ford’s similar choice.
However, there were some women who called in to say that despite being assaulted themselves, they believe Mr. Kavanaugh when he says he didn’t assault Dr. Ford.
One caller, a woman Sherri from California, told her story about the time three men attacked her and tried to sexually assault her. She said she was “slugged so hard in the chest” she couldn’t breathe. Thankfully, a passing motorist came to her rescue.
“All I felt was relief because I wasn’t raped,” she said. “Now, had I been raped … I think it would have been [a] totally different thing.”
Sherri told C-SPAN 3 the reason she didn’t find Dr. Ford credible is not that she didn’t believe her story. It’s because Dr. Ford wasn’t raped. She believed that because Mr. Kavanaugh allegedly forced her into a room, got on top of her, attempted to take her clothes off, and covered her mouth to stifle her screams, but ultimately did not rape her, that Dr. Ford has no right to cry about her assault.
“I can talk about [my assault]; it doesn’t bother me because I didn’t get to go through with what they were planning to do,” she said. “Her [acting] like she’s going to cry after 36 years is just unbelievable. She didn’t get raped,” Sherri continued. “You didn’t die and you weren’t raped.”
Another caller, a woman who said she was sexually assaulted when she was 12 years old, called into question Dr. Ford’s recollection of the event.
“I was abused as a 12-year-old. I never forgot one part of the incident,” said Christine, a Republican from New York. “I learned through life, I adjusted after it, but I would never go back and press charges and ruin somebody’s future.”
Last year, #MeToo put “believe women” into shorthand. For a time, I really thought we (as in victims and survivors of sexual assault) were moving forward. I thought we were going to prevail. After all, my great-grandmother was born before women could legally vote and when a lady wearing pants was deemed unacceptable. And decades later, you could see her voting in presidential elections while wearing pants. I thought we were going to see the same kind of progress here during this hearing. But we didn’t. Instead, we got to see Lindsay Graham sputter into his microphone and Republicans pass his anger off as passion.
“It isn’t going to change everybody’s minds,” my mom said to me in another text. “But it may sway some people who are on the fence, especially women.”
I’m glad my mom is holding onto hope. Because right now, I can’t.