Today, Christine Blasey Ford testified before the US Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Ford alleges that during the summer of 1982, Kavanaugh and his friend, Mark Judge, pushed her into a room at a small house party, sexually assaulted her, tried to tear her clothes off, and covered her mouth when she tried to scream.
The news in the US has been about almost nothing else for a week, and it has been wrenching for many women to watch social dynamics so many of us are too familiar with, through our own experiences, playing out on the national stage.
On page 42, Judge writes about "beach week," the start of the summer when boys and girls from private schools in his area would rent houses in Ocean City or Rehoboth. Judge describes beach week as a "bacchanalia of drinking and sex, or at least attempts at sex." pic.twitter.com/miMUhn8UqG
— Peter Maass (@maassp) September 26, 2018
What Ford said she remembered most from the assault, was her two alleged assailants laughing together, with each other, at this hilarious thing they were doing — these good friends, living the good life.
This was their own live action summer buddy movie that they were making together, about a year after teen movie Porky’s, a story about sexually aggressive boys trying to lose their virginity, came out. This was the party life so many women have begun to say they remember very differently.
Asked what her strongest memory is, Dr. Ford says, "The laughter, the uproarious laughter between the two, and their having fun at my expense."
— ABC News (@ABC) September 27, 2018
Because it’s funny and entertaining when a girl or woman thinks she’s a person, but a boy or man casually tortures her, terrorizes her, and then goes on about his business like it was nothing. Like she was nothing.
A woman called into CSPAN during the break and told a heart-wrenching story about her own personal trauma. Take a minute to listen to it in full. pic.twitter.com/sy4zmR5X7z
— Mother Jones (@MotherJones) September 27, 2018
Ford’s experience, like that of the many other women subjected to male sexual violence, is the “boys will be boys” punchline of every rape joke. That’s what they tell us, right? It’s no big deal. It just happens. Many of us don’t bother to question, or we don’t for a long time, anyway.
Don’t make a fuss, it will all be over soon enough. This is the guys’ good life — a good laugh.
a Trump supporter on MSNBC told her daughters that men groping women is "no big deal" pic.twitter.com/QbYubOJpXl
— Caleb Ecarma (@calebecarma) September 26, 2018
Not all boys act like this, of course. Only about one in 10 is a rapist:
“Across samples, 178 of 1642 participants (10.8 per cent) reported having perpetrated at least one rape from 14 years of age through the end of college.”
So when someone tells a rape joke, we try not to remember. Maybe we remember anyway. The laughing men probably look something like this:
We know what they will say if we say it isn’t funny.
C-SPAN reaction calls:
Ind: "She's lying like a dog"
Rep: "She's lying"
Dem: A woman crying as she recounts how she was molested as a child decades ago. "I thought I was over this… It's just breaking my heart."
— Pam Vogel (@pamela_vogel) September 27, 2018
If we say something, men might ask if we were drinking. As if that were a reason — as if a man caught with a stolen wallet would say to a police officer, “Sorry officer, I guess I didn’t know it was wrong to steal a wallet from a drunk man.” As if the female consumption of alcohol, even once, creates a zone of impunity for male behavior.
Kavanaugh asks Sen Klobuchar multiple times if she's had alcoholic blackouts. pic.twitter.com/3huBRb2JEo
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) September 27, 2018
When women say anything critical to men, we usually try to put those men immediately at ease. Maybe by trying to point out that we’re only trying to help.
Jesus. "My motivation was to be helpful." That is the most revealingly female and heartbreaking thing I have ever heard in my life.
— David Roberts (@drvox) September 27, 2018
Most women are used to asking men, demurely, deferentially — as though we are not walking on broken glass, when we most certainly are — not to hurt us. We know they can hurt us. It’s allowed. So we try to remember to ask politely. We all know what happens to girls who aren’t nice and it’s never good.
So we can’t usually be direct.
A woman just told @LindseyGrahamSC she was raped. He said, as he headed into an elevator, "I'm sorry. Tell the cops."
— Emma Dumain (@Emma_Dumain) September 27, 2018
Women have to be nice. The correct kind of nice. It’s so easy to get it wrong, or to simply be the wrong kind of woman from the start.
CNN pundit saying that Blasey-Ford’s testimony is more resonant bc — unlike Anita Hill who projected strength and poise — Blasey-Ford projected vulnerability.
Soo much to unpack there.
— Jawny Mathis. (@GeeDee215) September 27, 2018
You have to be careful not to specifically ask him not to hurt you — it would be undiplomatic, it would insult his honour and imply unsavory motivations on his part. He would probably be offended if she pointed out the context for the fear she has lived under for her entire life.
Honour is a thing that men get to have. How nice for them.
“When Grassley asked Ford if she would like to take a break, she replied, ‘Does that work for you? I’m used to being collegial.’”
Of course she’s collegial. No one wants to be the punchline of a joke about men abusing women more times than they have to be. He says, “Come on, it’s funny, right?” “Have a laugh, have a chuckle,” he says. “Don’t take it so seriously. Don’t be a bitch,” he says.
Meet the Women for Kavanaugh. pic.twitter.com/E7mztPRmnt
— Monica Klein (@MonicaCKlein) September 27, 2018
We suspect, but don’t want to find out, how men like that act when they think we’re being bitches.
— Bloomberg Politics (@bpolitics) September 27, 2018
It was just a joke, right?
The good ol' boys are about to wrap it up. Laughing it up during a hearing on serious sexual assault allegations. pic.twitter.com/OQbgkApLFE
— Jennifer Hayden (@Scout_Finch) September 27, 2018