When Brett Kavanaugh took the oath for the Supreme Court yesterday, many eyes watched and many averted. Those who averted did so for reasons immeasurably deeper than political dissent. As women, we have endured a spectrum of sexual violence: rape, harrassment, molestation, and assault. Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony was a touching and harrowing tale of a teenaged girl subjected to sexual violence. Her story is important for its merit, but also its attention to a horrifying experience too many women have faced–attempted rape.
The apathy of today’s Congress, and certainly much of America’s public square and churches (here’s looking at you Franklin Graham), would tell you attempted rape doesn’t matter because nothing actually “happened” to you. But when Dr. Ford sat in that chair and described her fear and the treacherous laughter, even the front door argument generated so many years later in her new life from this very incident, it was apparent that something indeed happens when an attempted rape occurs. The stench of that fear doesn’t waft away with the summer breeze. It may subside, but when summoned by a trigger it floods the senses as strongly as it first appeared. Trauma does not dissipate with education, or time or marriage.
Yet in the height of the #MeToo movement, political America doesn’t want to acquaint itself with the reckoning. While the government hides and castigates, the MeToo movement isn’t limited to rich actresses in Weinstein’s hotel room, Bill Cosby’s mysterious pills, or sleazy TV hosts and execs slipping their hands under skirts. It’s also about the everyday woman, teenager, and girl who is violated in one form or another in an office, or a car, or a bedroom, or a busy city street. It’s about coming to understand what those violations are and improving our behavior from that point. It is not the single-handed mission to destroy the male race.
Honestly, if there’s anything that is sure to drive women into a more antagonistic seat toward the opposite sex, it’s the utter denial, defensiveness, mansplaining and strawman fallacies that some men use to respond, making it clear they aren’t open to dialogue or acknowledging that actions typically accepted in our society are harmful and have to change.