Like thousands of others, I spent yesterday riveted to the Brett Kavanaugh hearing. And like thousands of others, I am now writing about it.
It’s hard to focus on any one impression from that spectacle. There were just so many.
Dr. Ford’s nervousness and desire to be helpful. Her clear honesty regarding the portions of that night that she cannot remember.
The polite way that Rachel Mitchell attempted to discredit Dr. Ford and her attorneys.
Judge Kavanaugh’s anger and belligerence.
Lindsey Graham’s hissy fit. And the sudden disappearance of Rachel Mitchell.
I’m not going to write about any of those things. Instead I’m going to write about our culture, patriarchy, anger and optimism.
When you juxtapose Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas to Christine Blasey Ford/Brett Kavanaugh it is clear as day that nothing – NOTHING – has changed in our culture when it comes to the way women are treated by our government. And with Kavanaugh’s ascension to the Supreme Court, it is painfully obvious that things may get worse before they get better. And make no mistake – he will be confirmed and will sit on the Supreme Court.
All of us have been lulled into a false sense of security over the last 20-30 years. Women like me, for many years, bought into the marketing that women had it made. We had the pill, we had careers, we could choose which path we wanted to take, we could support ourselves, we could divorce a bad partner, we could be openly gay or bisexual, we could run for office or run a company. Right?
I bought it all. I poo-pooed feminism because I clearly didn’t need it. I had a nice career with a nice paycheck. I made more money than my husband. When I decided to get divorced I didn’t have to worry about how I was going to support myself. I bought my own home and enjoyed the single life.
On the surface I was the poster child of a successful, independent woman. I lived in a fantasy of my own creation.
The reality was that I was overlooked for promotions and pay increases constantly as my white, male counterparts were rewarded for mediocre work. I was working harder and better but it was not good enough.
The fact that I made more money than my husband was always a sticky subject. Something we couldn’t talk about or mention because it clearly bothered him. He enjoyed our nice, two-income, no-kids, lifestyle but would downgrade my contributions to that lifestyle and even accused me of marrying him for his money. Which he didn’t have. His family did, but he had blown through his years before I even came along.
Once divorced and living on my own I was able to begin seeing the cracks in what I thought was my perfect existence. And then I began a relationship with a liberal, male feminist. How ironic that it would be a man who would show me what my female life should be about. I realized that while I was financially independent, I had allowed myself to be led by the perceptions and desires of the patriarchs in my life. Whether it was a husband or a boss. Or my own beloved father.
Once I stripped all of that away, I was able to see things as they are rather than how I had been trained to see them. I had to come to terms with my own participation in my own repression.
Which brings me back to the culture of the sexes in the year 2018. It was so clear yesterday in the very different temperaments of the two people involved.
Ford was quiet, careful and deliberate. She had a few moments where she had to hold back her tears but mostly she was calm. She had to be. In order for a woman to be taken seriously, she cannot be emotional.
Meanwhile, Kavanaugh, who is already holding one of the highest judicial positions in the country, held nothing back. He was mad as hell and he made sure we all saw it. He was emotional, he fought back tears, he yelled, he belittled his female questioners from the Democrat side of the room. And the Republican Senators joined in for a group temper tantrum.
Meanwhile, Feinstein, Harris and Klobuchar were calm. Measured. Deliberate. Because they have to be in order to be taken seriously.
These women, who are in extremely powerful positions in our government, had to hold it all in check. While the men in the room fell to pieces.
Picture for just one moment that all of that was swapped. Ford and the female Senators – crying, yelling, slamming shut notebooks, turning red-faced and sputtering from their anger.
While all the men remained calm, collected, thoughtful and polite.
But in the end it didn’t matter that the women held up under the pressure while all the men in the room lost their shit. Because the men in the room hold the power. They could behave any way they liked.
In the end, nothing Dr. Ford said and no pressure from the female Democratic Senators mattered. The Patriarchy that is the United State Senate was in its full glory yesterday and soon Brett Kavanaugh will be sitting in judgement of all the women in the country. Making life and death decisions about our health and our rights.
Now for the promised optimism. Because, yes, in spite of that despicable charade we all watched yesterday, I am optimistic.
The anger we witnessed yesterday is caused by this one fact – The Rich Angry White Men know full well their time in power is coming to an end. That is exactly why they are so desperate to fill the Supreme Court with men just like them. That is why they refused to have a hearing for Merrick Garland. And why they are pushing with every fiber of their beings to get Kavanaugh seated as soon as possible.
Women and people of color have had enough. Our anger is palatable. They know this. They know their days are numbered.
I won’t fall prey to the hopes of the supposed Blue Wave coming in November. But I will concede that women and other minorities will fill a huge amount of political posts in every community across this country.
We will eventually prevail. We have the numbers on our side. But they have money and a strong lack of moral character. They will stop at nothing to hold on to power. Take a look at gerrymandering and voter suppression not to mention standing by while a hostile foreign government has its way with our election processes.
Women have been conditioned to be quiet, polite, helpful and careful.
That needs to stop. Now. Show your anger. Raise your voice. Push your way into the places that you have been locked out of.
But most of all – Call. It. Out. When a guy is a jerk – call him on it. When a politician is solicitous and condescending – call him on it. When your boss passes over you in favor of the mediocre dude in the next cubicle – call him on it.
Be Brave. Be Loud. Be Belligerent.
Michelle Obama has a quote that I love – “When they go low, we go high.” But that isn’t working for us, is it? Maybe it’s possible to go high but be prepared to get down in the mud and fight these bastards with all you have.
Or be prepared to see a repeat of the Hill/Thomas/Ford/Kavanaugh hearings in another 30 years.