Our Democracy Is Being Covered By the Sands of Tyranny

Right now, I am trying very hard not to think about Brett Kavanaugh while simultaneously watching MSNBC Senate coverage and occasionally tweeting.  I am not sure why.

Yesterday’s blog was titled along the lines of whether or not, in this #MeToo moment, anything I had previously blogged or said in messages to Senators even mattered.

It was reading last night’s WSJ Kavanaugh apology tour that I knew it hadn’t.

I do not know with 100% surety that Brett Kavanaugh assaulted Dr. Christine Blasey Ford – neither do I know he didn’t.

We would need a more robust FBI investigation for that.

For me, the spectacle of his enraged testimony last Thursday compared with her attempt to stay composed as she recounted what she remembered happening to her was the clincher.

His mask dropped.  The partisan Brett Kavanaugh he was during his early career is not that far below the surface of the jurist.

And the meanness he might have displayed in his high school and college years while under the influence was scary to me because in his performance, I could imagine it.

But then, I always find men’s anger ugly. It absolutely cows me.

It was ugly in my alcoholic father when he came home at night and berated and demeaned my mother for no good reason.

It was ugly on Lindsey Graham’s face in every interview he has given this past week,  and his ugly implication that all one had to do to find a woman who will willingly lie about being sexually assaulted is to drive through a trailer park, handing out $100 bills.

Basically, Graham was calling women who claim sexual assault “trailer trash.” (That phrase mine, interpreting what he said.)

It was very ugly on the face of Brett Kavanaugh.  His rage.

As a sexual assault survivor and victim of multiple instances of sexual harassment, it was scary to look upon.

When I see the face of justice, I imagine it as having no discernible emotion.  Not until all have been heard and a judge has weighed testimony and evidence in the context of the law and how it has been applied in prior cases, how it applies in the case now being heard.

I do not trust Brett Kavanaugh to have the face of justice any more.  I am willing to be wrong.  But it will have to be proven over time.

Meanwhile, I believe this country needs a course correction.  It will not come at the hands of the GOP, despite the dearest wishes of Jeff Flake.

Which is why for the first time since Reagan, I will be voting Blue down the line – unless there are credible reasons not to.

At the moment, I can’t think of any.

In the meantime, after Nicole Wallace’s hour is over and I have taken a long, hot bath, I will be reading Hannah Arendt on “The Origins of Totalitarianism.”

Because, dear friends, we are already many years headed down that path.

I just pray my vote this November is not too late. And that the ones I cast before can be ameliorated.

bird s eye view photography of road in the middle of desert
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Kavanaugh: Did Anything I Wrote or Said Matter?

I am exhausted.  For many reasons.

My 16 1/2-year-old cat is slowly dying from kidney failure.  That she has lasted this long is a combination of kitty dialysis (running fluids to expel toxins) and feeding her Chik-fil-A (just the meat, not the coating; and before you suggest it, she won’t eat it grilled.)

I am fighting an infection with an antibiotic that has side effects that limit me more than the original infection.  And thanks to sitting in the ER for more than 3 hours to get meds, I seem to have a virus on top of it. ( Still, I am a big believer in flu shots – if you haven’t yet, get yours.)

And as a survivor of sexual assault (twice) and multiple instances of sexual harassment in the workplace, I am so dispirited by the political discourse (or in the case of the GOP, its lack of civility therein), I don’t even want to get up off the couch. With all due respect to Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) not withstanding.

I am tired of hearing how aggrieved Donald Trump is about women who make up false stories about him. I am sure given his fame and wealth, it has happened.

Just as I equally believe Stormy Daniels had sex with him only four months after Melania Trump gave birth and then was later paid hush money to keep from hurting his electoral chances on the heels of the “Access Hollywood” tape.

Is it fair that someone would accuse him falsely? Of course not.

But maybe it should give him an inkling of how women survivors feel when they are asked about whether or not they were provocatively dressed;  how much were they drinking; are they a spurned woman; did they send a “yes” signal and decide after it was “no.”

(Or, if Lindsey Graham is asking, did you ever live in a trailer park/possess a $100 bill.)

Trump of all people should know how hard it is to disprove a negative. (Oh wait, he doesn’t; he has just learned that if you tell enough lies, bully enough people and create enough chaos, people forget what the last allegation was because there is yet another new one taking its place and soaking up all attention.)

I am also exhausted because I feel I have said and done all I can.  I have called my own Senators and ones who are not my Senators about Brett Kavanaugh’s possible Confirmation.

I have tweeted them all so much I am sure I have a reputation as a troll somewhere.  I have blogged really personal information that was not in my original vision of how my blogs would be styled.

But I felt it was important because I did have a story to contribute and because I know Trump had a list of at least 24 other potential jurists just as conservative as Kavanaugh who will not take a place on the Supreme Court carrying the baggage and unresolved questions he will carry: about Dr, Blasey Ford’s accusation and those of others, about his political impartiality and about his temperament – not as an 18-year-old but now, after 50+ years of living.

No, I no longer consider myself a member of the GOP.   In his manner and method, Trump raped me of my willingness to be called a Republican.

Because I am more center right than most Democrats, I guess you could say I “caucus” with them.  And I admittedly resist the Trump Administration and its decimating policies.

But I guess in our divided political nation, that makes me a member of Kellyanne Conway’s “vast left wing conspiracy.”

(How hysterical she would co-opt a phrase made famous by Hillary Clinton.  Or is it irony? Don’t know.  Don’t really care.🤷🏼‍♀️)

I just know the only recourses I have going forward remain my Twitter account and this blog.  I am opposed to Donald Trump and have been since Day One.  As a Republican voter.

I am so sorry to see him destroy the party of Lincoln.

Most importantly, I still have my vote, no matter how I self-identify on the political spectrum – or how others might suggest to identify me.  (Sisterhood, at Wa Po’s Jennifer Rubin!)

I will be using that vote in November.

Even if you are as sick as I currently am, have a cat that’s dying and are appalled at what has been happening these past two weeks – including the shaming of a sexual assault victim by the President of the United States and the now scary likes of Graham – I pray you will use your vote too.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.comSupreme Court

 

 

When God Made Eve

Tuesday evenings my prayer group regularly meets.  I have been with this group for seven years, but the last three years, ministry meetings often interfered.  So they were surprised to see me turn up at the last-minute this evening.

After opening prayers, we listen to the upcoming Sunday Mass readings and then discuss them.

God must have a sense of humor, because this coming weekend’s readings start with the creation of Eve as a “partner” for Adam.  That is the reading coming off two weeks of Supreme Court drama involving a “she said,” “he said” situation as I write this.

Think about it.  Adam seemed to have everything.  He lived in the garden of Eden.  He had every tree and plant that provided good nutrition.  He got to name every beast God presented him.  He walked and talked with God himself in the garden.

Eden was Paradise, a word literally from the Greek that means “a pleasure park.”  With God as his friend.  Yet it wasn’t enough for Adam.

In fact, God himself acknowledged “It is not good for the man to be alone.”

According to Genesis 2:18-24, God caused Adam to fall into a deep sleep, took one of his ribs from his side and created a woman out of the rib.  When she was brought to Adam, his response was:

“This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called ‘woman,’ for out of ‘her man’ this one has been taken.”  Genesis 2:23

In Hebrew, woman translates as “ishsha.”  From it comes the word ishah (her man).

The author of Genesis says this is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his “wife,” and the two become “one body.”

If you combine that last sentence with the Hebrew translations above, taken together they do not indicate a man dominates, but “he” belongs to “her.”

Or at least that is the way I am choosing to interpret it.

That’s an important distinction coming off a week in which it seemed like male dominance – well, predominated.

I have never seen so much anger and so many red faces on men in my life at one time as I saw on the GOP side of the Senate Judiciary seating.

I guess it is because they see their cultural Eden slipping away from them.  They are no longer Masters of the Universe.  Or at least, they can see they won’t hold that power for very much longer.

As Bob Dylan sang clear back in 1964, “The times they are a-changin.”

Many people didn’t like it then, when it involved full Civil Rights protections for blacks and the final push for desegregation of public spaces and schools, as well as ensuring voting protections.

Clearly they don’t like it now, when the #MeToo movement is adding fervor back into the life of women who have been physically violated, sexually harassed or been treated with less than equity and dignity when they have the same skill sets, talents and credentials as their male peers.

Despite all his amped up rage about how hard he worked to get where he was in life, the truth is that Brett Kavanaugh had things pretty much handed to him.  He started life at Georgetown Prep, a Jesuit and elite private school on the East Coast.  He was a Yale legacy student.  Okay, he was a smart Eli, got good grades and went on to Yale Law School.

So have a lot of men.  And a lot of women, for that matter.

Then either fate or the right connections land him in a fellowship with Judge Kenneth Starr, and he becomes an integral part of the team pursuing Bill Clinton for impeachment and the lead in drafting the Starr Report (hands up from those, like I, who actually read the darned thing.)  He was hell-bent on seeing Clinton impeached.

From there he goes on to work for the G.W. Bush presidential campaign (doesn’t everybody who lifts a few weights and drinks a few ‘skis’ and was somehow “disadvantaged” and had to “work his butt off?”) He again played an integral role in the “hanging chad” controversy and went on to become Bush’s White House Staff Secretary because – hey – he just happened to be in the right place at the right time again.  Pure co-inky-dink.  No special connections to call on at all, I am so sure.

Then, without ever really having practiced law in court a day in his life, without having advised a client who didn’t have a politically partisan stake in the game, without having ever prosecuted anyone but Bill Clinton on paper, Kavanaugh gets nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit because, well, I am sure there were just no other potential jurists who had actually practiced law anywhere to be had.

That he didn’t make it the first go round didn’t stop the GOP from pushing for a second, just like it didn’t stop them from saying they would vote for him for the Supreme Court after three women alleged sexual misconduct and there were doubts about whether or not he truthfully answered questions put to him in both his FIRST hearing and the one involving Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.

Brett Kavanaugh DESERVED this, by gosh.  There were weights lifted.  There was beer drunk.  He had a calendar!

And the women coming forth were just lying.  Period.  End of discussion.  Before an allegation had even been investigated by the FBI.

After all, it was all Eve’s fault, right?  She was the one that took the bite of the apple first.  She was the one who “seduced” Adam into taking one too.  At least, that was basically his answer to God when God wanted to know why Adam was hiding from him.  I mean, it wasn’t like Adam had any free will of his own to exercise and say no, right?  It wasn’t like God had befriended him, walked with him, talked with him.  Trusted him.

Isn’t it always the woman’s fault, even when it isn’t?

Yet God’s harshest words were for Adam:

“By the sweat of your face shall you get bread to eat, until you return to the ground, from which you were taken; For you are dirt, and to dirt you shall return.”  Genesis 3:19

Yes, Masters of the Universe, God was harsh with you that day.  He had expected you to be “her man.”  He had expected you to stand up for her, not victim blame her. As the steward of Eden, God had expected YOU to say “get thee behind me, Satan.  We won’t be tempted.”

But you were – tempted.  Men sometimes are.  Eve, she was just tricked by the devil.

It’s not like guys have free will, after all.  Just weights to lift and “skis” to drink.

And low friends in high places to help them hide from God when they don’t want to answer his questions truthfully.  Or those of the Senate Judiciary.

close up of fruits hanging on tree
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Waiting for Tom

Am spending today on the couch, taking an antibiotic that makes me nauseous.  So much fun.

I haven’t the energy or desire for political programming or Twitter.  So I decided to watch some of last week’s Season Premieres.

I am not much for episodic TV any more, except for things like “Game of Thrones,” “The Crown,” “Versailles,” etc.  Yes there is a theme there.

I very much enjoyed “New Amsterdam.” It stars the actor who played “Tom” from the “Black List.”  Finally, a medical drama I will enjoy.  I put that on “Record All Episodes.”

A fan of the original “Magnum, P.I.,” of course I had to see the reboot.  It was okay.  I only am recording all the episodes because I got nostalgic for the scenery (two trips to Hawaii in the 80s and 3 islands visited. Did not want to come back to the mainland either time. Mahalo.)

The first trip was the most nostalgic.  I missed being Mrs. Tom Selleck by a mere 20 minutes.

A friend from work had a daughter who lived on Oahu.  She belonged to the same gym as Selleck. We went there one evening only to find we had missed him by those 20 minutes.  So bummed.

But hey, my old friends at the newspaper had given me a nightshirt with Tom Selleck’s mustachioed image on it.  So it wasn’t entirely without credibility that I could return from my vacation and say “I slept with Tom Selleck.”

Well, a facsimile, at least.

I think I have previously blogged that I don’t laugh easily, so sitcoms aren’t really my thing.  But I had to, absolutely had to, watch “ Murphy Brown.” It did not disappoint.

The highlights were Murphy’s Twitter feud with Trump and the application of Hillary Clinton (one L only 😉😉) to be Murphy’s new secretary.

Although I haven’t watched “SNL” in years, I saw on-line Matt Damon’s terrific send-up of Brett Kavanaugh at the Senate Judiciary hearing last Thursday.

Just had to watch it on TV.  It was even funnier. (Seriously, what was up with all the snuffling on Thursday that Damon mimicked so perfectly? Hello, FBI, I don’t think Don McGahn had that issue as a no go zone. Director Wray?)

I wasn’t laughing at Kavanaugh himself on Thursday. I was too busy being horrified by his anger, arrogance and complete lack of dignity.  Hopefully the “undecideds” of the Senate keep that in mind when they consider confirmation and the issue of judicial temperament.

Fortunately the FBI won’t need to investigate his temperament under stress. We all clearly saw how he behaved.  It was Dr. Christine Blasey Ford who was dignified in her testimony, willing to answer every question put to her.

I am not sure what I will watch next. It might be time for a movie now.  Thank goodness I don’t have to take the other antibiotic dose until bedtime.

But I know for sure I will be watching Sir Paul McCartney on “60 Minutes” tonight.

It would be a tough call as to whether I would rather have gone through life as Mrs. Paul McCartney or Mrs. Tom Selleck.

Now I understand polygamy a bit better.

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Me in Hawaii – mid 80s

 

 

 

Reaping the Whirlwind

My emotions are definitely awhirl after watching today’s Senate Judiciary hearings about the sexual assault allegations brought by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford about Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

I saw Dr. Blasey Ford’s testimony in full.  Because of a ministry related meeting I had to attend this afternoon, I missed the first portion of Judge Kavanaugh’s testimony.

But from what I saw and the many news clips of this evening, I saw enough.

I am more convinced than ever that an FBI investigation should have been and still should be pursued. I don’t care how long Senator Diane Feinstein ( D-CA) had the information before it became common knowledge. I care that all the facts and all the evidence and all the witnesses that can be examined are considered.

Neither the Republicans or the Democrats have a moral high ground here.  Because this isn’t about them, though you wouldn’t know it from today’s contentiousness.

This is about whether Dr. Blasey Ford was credible in her accusation (and I felt she was) and whether or not Brett Kavanaugh belongs on the Supreme Court for the rest of his life.

Based on what I saw in terms of his anger, arrogance and evident sense of entitlement, I would have a difficult time saying yes.

In Dr. Blasey Ford, I saw a woman at times very raw and vulnerable when talking about the alleged attack and its impacts on her life.  Sometimes I saw the academic, trying to explain why her memory is not complete because of the way the brain records traumatic events.

But what broke my heart the most was her absolute desire to please in her answers 11 men who didn’t speak to her throughout the process because they lacked the capacity to do so and farmed the job out to a woman prosecutor.

That and knowing her house has two front doors.

I saw a very, very angry Brett Kavanaugh and it scared me. I could imagine what that anger fueled by alcohol might look like. But I grew up in a highly alcoholic home with a very angry father, so the leap wasn’t that far to go.

Whether Judge Kavanaugh was genuinely that angry, or he worked himself into a lather to please Donald Trump, I don’t know.

But if it was genuine rage, what I saw was so out of control that it makes me question his temperament.

If he did it to please Trump, then I question his judicial independence.

The other anger that seemed off the charts was Senator Lindsey Graham’s (R-SC).  There was a picture of him on my timeline where his face was twisted with such viciousness, had I been standing before him, I would have been afraid he would hit me.

It makes me wonder what happened to John McCain’s good friend.

Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) was a puzzlement.  He had the graciousness to approach Dr. Blasey Ford at the end of her testimony, presumably because he was touched.

But I also saw him frustrated to the point of being inarticulate at what he felt was unfair to Judge Kavanaugh.  I get it.  They are close in age with small children. It was hard to watch Kavanaugh’s emotions when talking about the impacts to his family.

I could see how Ben Sasse could so easily place himself in Kavanaugh’s shoes.

Ultimately, this is not my decision to make. It is up to the Senate.

But the decision that is made will impact my life and those much younger than I for decades.

Kavanaugh promised that those who he felt stood in the way of his confirmation would reap the whirlwind.

Senators, we already are. We have been for the past two years.

And my fear is it will destroy us all, regardless for whom we pull the lever on election days going forward.

woman wears gold colored blue gemstone pendant necklace
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Does the Rule of Law Really Rule?

I understand that his friends, family and colleagues want to believe Brett Kavanaugh is telling the truth when he says he has never sexually assaulted anyone.  For all I know, he never has.  But neither do I know he hasn’t.  I don’t know the man.

But I do know it is possible to sleep next to your spouse every night for seven years only to discover that person was capable of doing something you could have never imagined.

How many women have woken up one day to find out their spouse has cheated on them? How many men?

How many people imagined the first time it ever happened that the person they were married to would hit them? Would drain their bank account without their knowledge? Would commit a crime when they had never done so before?

It happens.  Every.  Single.  Day.

And no one enjoys talking about it.  Many people won’t.  Ever.

So please, Brett Kavanaugh supporters, please understand as fine a man as he may be, he may still have the ability to do things of which you have no knowledge that could change the tilt of the earth on its axis as you knew it.

Which is not to say his accusers are all truthful.

Which is exactly why there should be a separate FBI investigation on this issue.

Which is why all the women and all corroborating witnesses should testify.

Which is why Mark Judge should be subpoenaed to appear and testify.

Their stubborn refusal to have such an investigation is exactly the problem with the GOP.  That, and the way they – most especially President Donald Trump – have talked about the women coming forward.  Calling them liars.  Calling them politically motivated.

I have written in the past several days about sexual abuse and surviving it.  So I am not going to belabor the point.

Except to say it is difficult to talk about, it takes years of therapy to deal with it, and it is a memory that forever haunts. And somewhere in your soul, an ember of anger and outrage always burns, right next to a sliver of shame.

Today a 3rd and 4th accuser have come forward.

My question is – how many of these allegations is the Senate Judiciary sitting on?  Because they have known for days, and we, the people, are only now finding out.

Why won’t Chuck Grassley, Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell ask the FBI to investigate?  Why doesn’t Judge Kavanaugh himself call for it?

If I were as innocent as he claims, I would want one.

(And no, the fact he has been background checked before doesn’t matter – they were not asking these particular questions in previous background checks.)

This is what seems fair.  This is what seems reasonable.

This is what is supposed to happen in a country based on rule of law.

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Are You Enjoying The Play, Mrs. Lincoln?

The Thursday hearing to listen to testimony from Dr. Christine Blasey Ford alleging Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her is political theater. Nothing more; nothing less.

A Judiciary Committe vote on the confirmation has already been set for Friday morning at 9:30 a.m.

No standard investigation of these allegations has been done by the FBI.  Evidently the Senate Judiciary will not hear from an alleged second victim.  Or any corroborating witnesses.

Meanwhile, attorney Michael Avenatti claims to have a third, credible victim that he will reveal in 48 hrs.

The 11 white Republican men on the committee apparently will not directly question Dr. Blasey Ford themselves.  They have hired an “assistant,” aka a female lawyer, specializing in sexual harassment and other cases.

They think somehow this will provide better optics.

But given publicly televised statements several of them, McConnell, and President Donald Trump have made this past week – heck, just TODAY – they couldn’t be more wrong.

They have, all along, been quite obvious about how they will vote and what they already believe. The optics are terrible at best and horrifying to those of us who have survived sexual abuse.

But it is really what they want that is most disquieting.  They want to overturn Roe v. Wade – and Lord knows what other equal opportunity protections for women and minorities in the future.

If you don’t realize this, you haven’t been paying attention. Since, like, Goldwater in 1964.

This is the last stand of the conservative white male men – they are all Custer, out to legally decimate those of us natives who do not resemble them or want to let them tell us what to do, think, feel and be. Even though there are more of us than there are of them.  Even though we are the majority.

I am Catholic.  I believe in life at conception until natural death.

However, for a nation premised on God “establishing” us, we do not seem to want to allow people (in this case, women) to use the free will God granted when it comes to their liberties and freedoms, even how to treat their own bodies.

And we really have it all twisted when it comes to Jesus’ admonition to love thy neighbor as thyself.  He put no restrictions on who that neighbor might be.  We would build walls to make sure people who don’t look like us are definitely not our neighbor.

Mr. Rogers is weeping on the sleeve of his sweater in Heaven right now.

Do I want to see babies aborted? No. But then, unlike my Church, I believe in contraception – both to prevent abortion and to curtail the spread of sexually transmitted diseases that can end in infertility, sterility or cancer.

And it is also my belief that every person stands in judgement for what they do – but that God’s mercy and love is far greater.  I trust in it.

What we need is a Supreme Court that is not ideologically packed either to the far right or the far left.  We need Justices who can truly look – without passion or prejudice – on each case that comes before them and rule based on the merits of the law.

We needed a Judge like Merrick Garland.  But McConnell aborted his nomination.

With glee, as the legend goes.

Custer died during his “last stand.”

Hopefully the outdated patriarchy that still has a strangle hold on this nation will too.

statue of liberty
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One Time I Reported; One Time I Didn’t

He was riding a bike with a child carrier on the back.

I was walking on the sidewalk in the same direction, against oncoming traffic on a major San Jose thoroughfare.  I was on my way to get quarters for the condo laundry to wash bed sheets before the movers came that day to pack us up.

My 10-year-old son was back at the house.  I thought I would be gone 10 minutes at most.

I wouldn’t have even known for sure he had touched me if he hadn’t looked back and said “nice ass” as he pedaled away.

As I got closer to the parking lot of the strip mall, I could see him circling his bike in the parking area in front of the grocery store.  I had visions of him doing this or worse to another woman.

So I walked to the left to the nearby gas station and said I needed to use their phone to call 911, I had just been sexually assaulted.

The 911 operator asked my location and told me to stay where I was.  A patrol car would be there soon.  They had a call about this man with the child carrier on his bike 20 minutes before from another woman he had assaulted.

It seemed like the two police cars were on site before I even hung up.  They rushed me into the front seat of one and I pointed out the area where I saw the man circling in the parking lot.

As the police cars headed toward him, the bicyclist took off and started pedaling furiously up the thoroughfare against oncoming traffic.

Sirens blaring, the police cars did the same, me still in the front seat. It was frightening to drive with oncoming cars moving to get out of the way.

About two blocks away, the bicyclist ditched his bike and started running across the lawn in the direction of a furniture store.

The cops stopped their cars, jumped out with doors ajar, and gave foot chase, quickly catching and putting handcuffs on the man as he lay sprawled on the grass.

By now I was badly shaken from the adrenaline of fear. The police asked if there was anyone I could call to come and get me and be with me.

They walked me over to the furniture store to make my call.  As I passed the handcuffed man on the lawn, he gave me a look so hate-filled it chilled me.

Fortunately, he must have taken a plea, because I didn’t have to ever attend a trial.  The officers said I might not.

I was glad I didn’t have to go to court. I never wanted to see him again.

But I also was glad I called the police because I was afraid he was circling the parking lot looking for another victim.  I had imagined him perhaps getting off that bike and forcing her into her car with him.

Learning he had assaulted someone before me, I am glad I had that thought.  Because had he just touched my behind, made his comment and ridden on, I might not have reported the incident,  angry as his unwanted touch made me.

After all, it wasn’t the first time a man had touched me inappropriately and without invitation.  But he hadn’t tried to rape me.

That has happened to me.  I have spoken about it to therapists and a handful of trusted people.

It is the one thing I will never write about for reasons I choose here not to disclose.  It is too personal.  And I am an incredibly open person.  A read through my blog will confirm it to those who don’t know me.

So my hashtag for this story is both #WhyIReported and #WhyIDidn’tReport.

So you see, a woman can do both.  They are not mutually exclusive.

 

 

 

Slut Shamed

I was 10 when I wore my first bra.  The day I first wore it to school, I had on a white sweater and a blue plaid skirt. Never one who liked slips, it never occurred to me that the bra might be visible under my sweater.  My mother must not have noticed either, because she would have said something before I left for school.

But at recess, in the bright sunshine, it was a different story. And my classmates let me know, with one girl snottily noting that I was “showing off.” I think one of the boys may have snapped the back of it.  That was 55-years ago.

I wish it were the first time I had been body shamed. It wasn’t.  Just the first time that my budding development was denigrated.

It would not be the last.  In eighth grade, I had blossomed into a size 7 junior.  One of my new spring dresses had a fitted bodice with a flared skirt.  It was a plaid of green and yellow shot through with white.  I remember feeling pretty wearing it. Again, had my mother felt it indecorous,  she wouldn’t have purchased it.

When I opened my locker between afternoon classes, the note fell out on the floor.  It said something about liking how big my boobs were and asked if I had a p_ _ _y to match.

I don’t remember screaming, but I may have.  I did run sobbing down the hallway, bumping into other students and into the girl’s bathroom to cry.  A sympathetic older girl asked what happened, and I showed her the note.

She lent me her oversized mohair sweater and walked with me into the principal’s office to turn in the note.  While also sympathetic, there really was nothing the principal could do.

I wore the sweater the rest of the day, clutching it tightly about my body as if it had the power to make me invisible.

Through out the rest of my high school years, I made myself invisible by becoming overweight.  I didn’t have to worry about boys looking at me lustily. Or so I thought.  It seemed older men at my parents’ restaurant where I worked were not as choosy as the high school quarterback in their flirtations.

But at 18, I started to slim down.  At 20, I was 110, a size 5, and a yeoman in the Navy.

But no matter how tiny the size I wore, I still retained an hour-glass shape dominated by my curves.  The comments I got from fellow sailors walking along the hallways where I worked were nasty.  One day as I walked to my car, a group of them leaned out a window and mooed at me.

But a particularly embarrassing moment was when the  Lt. Commander who was head of personnel at Naval Nuclear Power School, Vallejo,  called me into his office to dress me down.

Our command had a picnic at the beach the prior weekend.  I wore a one piece, turquoise bathing suit.  Half the afternoon,  I was also covered up with a T-shirt I borrowed to keep the sun off me.  I remember seeing officer wives wearing bikinis.

The LCDR told me he was sorry to do this, but he had to put a note in my file that I had been inappropriately dressed at the party. An officer’s wife had complained that the suit was not modest enough in covering my chest.

My shame was equally felt when I learned that a group of officers had taped me at another picnic while playing volleyball, showing it frequently at their next duty station in Idaho.  Evidently my breasts were the star of the movie.  I hadn’t even realized I was being filmed.

This was hardly the last time I experienced obnoxious comments – nor even one of many stories of outright assault I could recount.

Years later, for example, one of my bosses at the California utility where I worked asked me over a work-related dinner why I kept myself in such great shape since I didn’t have a boyfriend.

He was also the same boss who queried me one day why I had worn red shoes to work, and asked me didn’t I know they were “f – – k me” shoes?

I had worn them because they coordinated nicely with my outfit, I answered.

This, guys, is what young girls and women face on a daily basis.  And I have barely scratched the surface of what I personally dealt with.  Multiply it by millions of other women.

And you, guys, are the ones usually doing this to us – though obviously from my story, women love to slut shame other women too to make themselves feel better somehow.  Since I have never done that to another woman, I am not quite sure how that works.

But hey, sisterhood and solidarity and all that jazz.

So now you know why we seek empowerment, add #MeToo to certain tweets and take offense at the Donald Trumps of the world.

It’s also why we would like to hear Dr. Christine Blasey Ford be allowed to tell her own story in a dignified setting, and let Brett Kavanaugh tell his.

Then let the chips fall where they may. But let them fall without bias or undue shame.

Because the story she has to tell is true.  It has simply happened to too many of us, whether the particulars in this case are exact or not.

And because if Brett Kavanaugh did push her down on that bed, grope her and put his hand over her mouth so her scream would not be heard, his judgement was bad then.

And it would be unfair to ask more than half the population of this country to trust his judgement for the rest of his life on the highest court in the land now.

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“Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics”*

Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) knows something her mostly male counterparts don’t – when a woman steps forward and gives voice to her sexual assault/rape, usually more women will follow.

Not because they are engaged in some vast “left wing conspiracy.”

But because truth begets truth.  And courage, once displayed by one woman willing to talk about the darkness that haunts her, is contagious.

That is precisely why the #MeToo movement has not been a faddish flash in the pan.  More than half the population of this country is made up of women.  They either have been assaulted, or likely know someone who has been.

The statistic I have read in my news feed is 1 in 4 women experience a sexual assault of some sort. That is a spectrum that runs from a grope in passing by someone with a sexual fetish to gang rape or worse.

In a country of more than 329 million people, more than 50% (about 167 million) are female. That means more than 41,750,000 women have been sexually victimized somehow, someway.

Again, if you round that up, 42 MILLION FEMALES have been sexually misused.

And that doesn’t begin to take into the account the nasty things men say they WANT to do to our bodies.

Yet eleven white men on the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Senate Majority Leader and the President don’t seem to believe these women are credible in their allegations against Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

I am sorry Chuck Grassley(R-LA);  Orrin Hatch (R-UT); Lindsey Graham (R-SC); John Cornyn (R-TX); Mike Lee (R-UT); Ted Cruz (R-TX); Ben Sasse (R-NE); Jeff Flake ( R-AZ); Mike Crapo (R-ID); Thom Tillis ( R-NC); John Kennedy (R-LA); Mitch McConnell ( R-TN) and Donald J. Trump (R-NY):  the statistics aren’t with you.

Neither are the reams of anecdotal evidence that could be produced on the subject.

And the truth? Who knows since you won’t let the FBI investigate or other witnesses testify?

Meanwhile Hatch, Graham, McConnell and Trump in particular have done everything they can to discredit Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, the first accuser, to portray her as some confused woman to an out-right liar for political purposes.

The accounts of who SHE has been throughout HER life don’t tally with those characterizations.

But Kavanaugh’s life seems to be the only one these 11 white men of the Judiciary, the Senate Majority Leader, and the POTUS, are concerned with.  Not because they genuinely care about Kavanaugh as a person – but because the political stakes on this nomination to the Supreme Court are the highest they have ever been.

And because they are governed by their own political machinations, they ascribe their motives to these women when neither statistics nor case study nor possibly even an investigation would bear this out.

To not slow down, to not investigate, to not interview contemporaries is as devastating for Kavanaugh, if not more so, than for Dr. Blasey Ford.  She will go back home to her family, her job, her surfing and eventually have a normal life.  Kavanaugh will have a permanent asterisk next to his name.

As for the 167 million of us who are FEMALE, who have been or could become victims of sexual assault, we don’t seem to count to these men at all.

Hopefully that will one day be their political doom.

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Photo by 周 康 on Pexels.com

Statistically, one of these four girls will be sexually assaulted at some point in her life.  What if one of them was yours?

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*Quote attributed to Mark Twain