Brett Kavanaugh, My Life, and #MeToo

Unless you’ve been stuck in some alternate dimension or lost in a haze of midterms, you’ve probably heard at least something about what happened with the Supreme Court and its latest appointee and source of controversy, Brett Kavanaugh.

To give a quick run-down for anyone who doesn’t know what happened, Judge Brett Kavanaugh was accused of sexual assault during a party in the 1980’s by a professor at Palo Alto University, Dr. Christine Blasey-Ford. This accusation led to a trial before the Senate in which Blasey-Ford testified about the events of the assault, which led two other women to accuse Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct or assault.

I’m not going to recount the trial for you or try to analyze anyone’s testimony. So, why do I bring it up? I’m writing this because it’s yet another link in a chain of events that have been occurring as part of the #MeToo movement, and because all the things I’ve seen in the paper and in the news have made me realize how much we’ve “normalized” things in our society that we shouldn’t have.

I have a younger sister who just started her freshman year of high school. Going into it, I warned her about things like being offered drugs, or watching how much she drinks (when she gets to that point) and about how to handle cliques. What I didn’t warn her about, though, was the gropey guys at parties who think it’s okay to grab girls by their breasts because they’re so drunk they won’t remember.  

I didn’t warn her about the way people plan on getting specific people drunk enough to hook up with them, and I didn’t teach her the best way to try to slip away quietly when your friend starts cornering you alone in a room and tries to make out with you. I didn’t tell her any of these things because I wanted to pretend that I don’t have to. I don’t want to think about my little sister having to ask a boy to rescue her from another boy because the first one didn’t understand that “no” means no, regardless of which gender says it. I don’t want to think of her one day being offered a drink they make at parties that’s literally named “rape punch.”

The thing is, that stuff is going to happen even though I hope it won’t, and I know because it happened to me and all my girl friends. We brushed it off as bad instances, but now I realize it’s a symptom of a system that hasn’t changed since before the 1980’s. It takes outside voices to speak up, like Blasey-Ford, like Ashley Judd, and like every single gymnast on the U.S. Olympic team for us to realize just how much we’ve accepted, because it’s easier than standing up and saying, “this was never okay.”

I’m not under any illusions that the system of inappropriate treatment is going to resolve itself today, tomorrow, or even in the next couple of years. What I hope for though, is that someone reads this and has the same realization I did. The system isn’t going to change on its own, and it’s not going to change because a few brave women speak up. The way we change this system is by teaching the generations that are coming after us, not to normalize the things we have and to stop hoping that somehow, they’ll avoid having to deal with the same situations.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some calls I have to make.

 

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