It takes a certain kind of person, not a certain amount of alcohol, to assault another human being.
I knew a boy who was murdered. Late one night I was up nursing my daughter and Googling my past, like you do. I saw his name in the Saint Petersburg Times. Murdered. I marveled at the story the way I marvel at those spectacular, hard-to-believe photographs from the Hubble Telescope. A 15-year-old girl I knew long ago had gone into a room to flip a cassette tape during a party. He locked the door behind her and turned up the music. I can’t believe you just let me do that, he said, laughing. She hadn’t let him do anything, he’d held her wrists.
Murdered. I should feel bad. But I don’t.
That girl never told anyone, until she got married and told her husband. And then she watched President Trump ridicule Dr. Ford on television during a rally, and she watched the women in the stands behind him laugh. Those women, those Republican women, would they laugh at her, too? She’s grown now, and a mother like Dr. Ford.
What if the boy had not died. What if he’d gone on to become something of a Kavanaugh? Doubtful. He was born poor and would likely die poor, or close to it. Does this make you feel sorry for him? Don’t. This girl knew lots of other boys, poor too, who were his friends and hers — boys who would never have done what he did. It takes a certain kind of person, not a certain amount of alcohol, to assault another human being. Alcohol plus boys does not equal rape.
About you now… remember that walk you took with that boy down a long Florida pier? You couldn’t believe he asked you to walk with him, especially since his last girlfriend was so pretty and drove a Fiat. You didn’t even have a license. It was everything you dreamed it would be — moonlit ocean, cute older boy. A real Jake Ryan. Prick tease, he said. You blue balled me. But I didn’t touch you. Fix it, he said. Fix it? You dumb bitch.
Remember that one time, when you were 18 and you let your boss give you a ride home? He wouldn’t let you out of his car, not without a kiss. Just one kiss, he said. I can’t help it, you’re so pretty. How did you get out of the car? The weight of him.
Remember your professor, the cool one who talked about his boat? You stood waiting on the top floor of the Wabash building. He told you the elevator was down and asked if you wanted to take the stairs with him. Those stairs? Those say Fire Exit Only. How could you be so stupid?
It’s okay. You’re not alone. I relate, or I think these days we say me too.
One last thought. The boy, if he hadn’t died, if he’d been nominated for the Supreme Court, she wouldn’t have come forward to tell her story about him. That takes a kind of bravery she does not have.
Dr. Ford came forward, and Republican women laughed at her. Yes — you did. I saw you. We all saw you. One in five women will be raped at some point in their lifetime, according to the CDC. This alone should have been “evidence” enough to consider other candidates for the position. That’s what we were doing, after all, we were considering, not condemning. Brett Kavanaugh was not on trial, he was at a job interview.
Those who say the girl should never have gone into the room, onto the pier, entered the stairwell, stayed in the marriage, taken the job, worn this, drunk that — stop. You’re advising the wrong person. Those who say we should have screamed FIRE, we did. And you still voted him into office, and appointed him to the highest court in the land.
The lesson is not ours to learn.