Something is happening right now that is unique in our current culture of hyper-partisanship. While vocal supporters on either side of Kavanaugh rant and rail about the fabricated importance of one minute detail or another, an entire faction of our society has broken from the Right vs Left discussion to witness a traumatizing theatrical presentation with slowly simmering rage brought on by remembrances of our own past experiences mingled with the retelling.
This is no longer about the alleged victims accusing Kavanaugh with a litany of sexual assaults. It is no longer about whether Kavanaugh was a typical teenage boy in the 1980s who drank too much and mistreated the females around him for his own enjoyment.
This is about the currently established structure of power which enables and perpetuates a culture in which this will continue to occur if left unchecked.
I have heard many unsettling things in the news and across social media since this began. “Innocent until proven guilty,” is one of my favorites. This phrase is typically applied to an accused defendant on trial for a crime and facing potential consequences as a form of punishment. “Innocent until proven guilty” is an assumption we are charged to make as jurors before making the difficult decision to irreparably alter someone’s existence in a court of law. We are told to maintain that assumption until such time as evidence has been provided to prove the individual’s guilt beyond a shadow of a doubt. This makes sense when you are considering reducing someone’s rights and liberty for a period of time. It would be terrible to make a mistake.
I propose that when the circumstances are reversed- when the individual is not on trial facing limits to their freedom, but being considered for irrevocable elevation to a position of the highest standing and power in our nation- the assumptions and burdens of proof should be modified. I would argue that we should be able to trust the individual’s innocence beyond the shadow of a doubt before making such a dramatically important decision. The burden should therefore be to disprove the allegations, or at worst to suffer no stone unturned in seeking out every available piece of information which my guide us toward that end.
I doubt Judge Kavanaugh. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he lied about multiple elements of his testimony, most hilariously the implied meaning of most of the content in his yearbook.
I don’t just doubt Judge Kavanaugh, though, and this is where the problem really grows from a small blaze to a raging dumpster fire. I doubt the white male lawmakers who orchestrated an insulting puppet show on Thursday to shit on the female demographic of their constituency. I doubt they believed him, and I doubt their own innocence in similar escapades throughout their careers as privileged white males in our society.
It is laughable to me that anyone can pretend to be appalled by these accusations and act as though they are preposterous. Am I the only one who watched movies from the 1980’s? I went to high school a decade later than Brett Kavanaugh, and I went to public school in north Idaho instead of a privileged east coast prep school, but my experiences are not so very different from the stories of these women. Every woman has stories like mine, just as every woman has stories like the three brave women who have brought allegations against Judge Kavanaugh.
Here are just a few of mine…
I was a senior in high school sitting in class with a pair of male basketball players who spent the hour discussing the train of boys who had gang-raped one of the girls at school that weekend because she had too much to drink. I was disgusted. I did not drink in high school, and so did not attend these types of parties, but I know many, many people who did. I did not tell anyone about this story and did not perceive it as rape at the time. I blamed the girl for drinking too much.
I began drinking in college, the first time while at a frat party. Men had to pay to get in, but women got in free and were plied with enough alcohol to incapacitate them. I never went without a group of friends because everyone knew what happened to unattended females who got drunk. They deserved it.
In my very early twenties, on a hiatus from college, I lived in a house with five young men. I was the only female. One evening while I was watching a movie in the living room with my date, my roommates came home sloppy drunk with two women. One of the girls had to be carried in and had urinated all over her clothes. I remember asking why they didn’t take her home, and she slurred something about not wanting to go home yet. They took her into a back bedroom and took turns having sex with her while she passed out. I did not report this, but I was a little older now, and had been too drunk myself a few times, so I did not exactly blame her. I still did not think it was rape. I did not really understand yet, but at least I had empathy for her.
I was 30 and separated from my husband of 7 years when I was raped by a construction worker on one of the projects I was managing as the field engineer. I had met a few of the construction crew members for beers after work, and it happened after he had dropped me back at my car. He was angry, driving 20 mph over the speed limit through city streets because I informed him I did not want a relationship with him outside of work. He was drunk and high, and even though I repeated no many, many times, and eventually broke down in tears with my arms over my face causing him to stop and relent, yelling at me, “Fuck, fine, I stopped,” neither one of us thought it was rape. On the way home, he called me to see if I was mad, and I assured him it wasn’t his fault. I was terrified he would tell someone and I would lose my job. All I could think was that I had cheated on my husband.
The next day, I called in sick and laid on the couch trying to figure out the right thing to do. Should I come clean to my husband? Should I kill myself? By the end of the day, I reasoned the only way to hurt the least number of people was to never speak of it and to be the very best wife to my husband I could be. I choked it down.
There was one problem- the guy kept texting me. I don’t understand why I felt this way now, but at the time I thought we had to be friends. If I was nice to him, maybe he would never tell anyone. A few days later, my husband found a text. I broke down in tears, came clean, and told him to leave me because I was dirt. He patiently listened as I told him exactly what had happened, and then he said, “I think you were raped. It sounds like you were raped.” I paused. I remember this pause vividly. In it, I considered all the implications of what that word entailed. Everyone would know. Everyone. It would no longer be my secret pain, but a story everyone would get to tell in their own words. Everyone would decide for themselves what had happened. My boss would know. I would have to explain why I was fraternizing with the construction workers, and no one would care that I was going through a painful separation with almost no support system and needed a night out. I would just be a slut. I would lose my job. My husband would make me go to the police, and they would look at text messages and ask me why I continued to be friendly toward the man. And him- he hadn’t done it on purpose, I was sure. He was drunk, and he was high and it was so very sad, but it wasn’t REALLY his fault. Was it fair to ruin his life?
“It wasn’t rape,” I said. I would rather have my husband believe that I would engage in an extramarital affair than to face the consequences of what happens to a woman after she is raped.
He forgave me and we started going to marriage counseling together. A week later, the man who raped me was arrested for the attempted rape of another woman. He spent a year in jail. He called me from prison to tell me it was a setup and to ask me for money for his attorney. I spoke to my husband about it- I actually considered giving $5,000 to my rapist for his defense to stop him from telling anyone what he had done to me. I told my husband it would be a great act of mercy. My husband told me I was insane. He was right. I was emotionally broken. I was responding inappropriately to everything that was happening to me.
We told the marriage counselor about the man being arrested, and he said it sounded like I had been taken advantage of in a weakened emotional state, but that nothing ever really just happens to us. He urged me to take responsibility for the part I had played in the scenario. I made choices that brought me there that night. Everything that happens to us, he explains, is in some part our own fault. We both believed him. This was my fault.
I sank into a deep depression.
My marriage was in excruciating turmoil. Every night, my husband would grill me on what had occurred while the children slept. Every night I retold the trauma of my tremendous disgrace as a cheating wife who cuckolded an unsuspecting, loving husband. The causes of our initial separation were ignored. Our only discourse was about my betrayal now. I lost my right to any freedom or privacy. I turned over the passwords to all of my email and online accounts. During the day, while I was at work, he would peruse my email and stalk the man who had been arrested. We sought out another counselor close to the time my rapist was to be released from prison. My husband was certain he would try to contact me. He read my text messages every night when I got home to check for any illicit behaviors on my part. We found a new counselor about two years after the incident, and this time I went to see him by myself sometimes. In one of these visits, he asked me to explain to him what had happened. “What you are describing to me is a rape,” he explained slowly. “You were not an unfaithful wife. You were raped against your will. Do you understand that?” I spoke to my husband about it that night and he said, “Why is the story suddenly changing?” Good point, I thought. I can’t call it a rape now. I already labeled it two years ago. Even if the story itself hasn’t changed, it’s too late. I’m a cheating whore. You don’t get to call it something else later.
But I was changing inside, and my guilt was burgeoning into anger and resentment. Why had no one helped me? Why was I dealing with this alone? Why was I being re-traumatized constantly because my husband couldn’t really forgive me? Why were we treating my husband like the victim here?
One weekend, a little over two years after my rape, I flew to southern Idaho with my sister for my long-time best friend’s baby shower. My sister and I flew there and back together, and my husband picked me up from the airport. That night, he said he was sure he saw my rapist’s truck at the airport (how did he know what his truck looked like?!) and that he believed I had met him for a secret weekend getaway.
That was enough. I told him I wanted a divorce.
My rape tore apart my family and destroyed the lives of all the people I cared about the most, but I never reported it. A few months later, living with my mother and trying to rebuild my life, I told her what had happened. She advised me to tell my siblings before my husband told them a different story. I told my sisters, and then I tried never to speak of it again. I used to think about it, though, all the time. Usually at night while I struggled to sleep. It wasn’t the memory of that night which was so painful- honestly it was clouded by the beer I’d had and I’d retold it so many times that I was desensitized to the fact that it was an actual memory of something painful that had occurred. The worst part, and I would have flashbacks of this often, were the continuous episodes of ongoing trauma from being doubted and questioned for years. My ex-husband standing at the foot of the bed grilling me, the counselor telling me it was my fault for being there at all, laying on the couch staring at the ceiling wondering what the most selfless act was the day after it happened. In the middle of our contentious divorce, my ex-husband hurled the accusation at me in an argument over the phone that I was the one who had a boyfriend during our marriage.
He called my rapist my boyfriend.
I don’t blame my ex-husband. He was hurting too, and he grew up in the same culture I did in northern Idaho. Women are responsible for what happens to them, and men are lauded for the humiliation and degradation they cause these women. We are but notches on bedposts. The goal as a woman is to be seen as more than this- as somehow marriage material. And if this happens to you, you are obviously not marriage material.
It has been years since I have spared a thought for all of this. I am remarried to a wonderful husband. I have a challenging career that keeps me busy along with my three children and two step-children. I volunteer for Carolyn Long in what little free time I have, and I do not have the time or patience to rehash past events that are behind me now.
And yet, on Thursday, I broke down, and I have not yet recovered. I am enraged. Every woman I talk to is enraged. On Saturday, as I volunteered, I locked eyes with many women and we shared simmering tears as we reminded each other how important it is to vote right now.
What is happening right now isn’t about me or my experiences, of course, and yet it is. Every woman who watched that testimony felt it. This is about all of us. As we watched a panel of arrogant, elitist men from a different era snub their noses at the other accusations made against Kavanaugh- accusations which are wholly believable to most women across this country- it became about all of us.
We are done with entitled spoiled brats who write us off. We are done laughing at the degradation of women. We are done letting you wink and chuck the chins of these prep school bastards as they angrily demand things that are not rights at all for anyone, but the highest privileges to be bestowed only upon those who have duly earned them IF AND ONLY IF IT IS IN THE BEST INTEREST OF OUR NATION.
I have doubts. Many, many doubts.
- Why wouldn’t an innocent man want a full FBI investigation to clear his good name? Why wouldn’t he be vehemently demanding this?
- If Mark Judge is so obviously lacking in credibility, why would his lawyer’s statement serve to refute Dr. Ford’s testimony? Is he an irrefutable alibi for Brett Kavanaugh or is he an unreliable drunk? (You can’t have both.)
- What reason would Dr. Ford have to lie about any of this? What reason did she have to lie years ago when she first started talking about it?
- Why does the FBI continue to use lie detector tests if they are useless in understanding the truth?
- Why is no one investigating Julie Swetnick’s allegations?!
- Why is Michael Avenatti discounted as an attorney when he appears thus far to only represent women who are proven to be telling the truth?
- Why was the named witness to the alleged crime not called to testify?
- Why don’t the Senators responsible for vetting and confirming this man want to ensure they have the very best information available to make their decision?
- What Supreme Court cases are coming up in the next few weeks to make Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation so urgent we cannot take the time to gather all the facts? Do any of these benefit the Republican Senators or the Trump Administration?
- Why does Brett Kavanaugh feel entitled to this Supreme Court seat as long as one else can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that he shouldn’t get it? Why shouldn’t he have to prove he is the best person for the job beyond the shadow of a doubt?
I do not want to be represented by a man about whom I have such serious doubts. It has absolutely nothing to do with his party, and everything to do with who he really is. Deep down inside, Brett Kavanaugh is a spoiled, lying douchebag who has treated people poorly, and a man with such a seriously flawed character should not sit on the Supreme Court. Any politician who tries to hold a straight face while claiming otherwise needs to be thoroughly investigated as well. It’s time to start cleaning house.
Please vote. And then put on some comfy shoes because we’re about to burn down this motherfucking patriarchy and we’ve got a lot of ground to cover. Now let’s go.
To learn more about Carolyn Long, visit ElectLong.com or follow her campaign on Facebook at Elect Carolyn Long. This blog is not affiliated with the campaign and is my own independent creation; all opinions expressed throughout are solely my own.