Dr. Ford’s Testimony and What We Believe About Sexual Assault

This is a huge day in America. It is a huge day for women.  It is a huge day for us as a country.  America, who are we and what do we believe about sexual assault?

I have watched Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony.

I believe Dr. Ford is telling what she honestly believes is the truth. And I believe this woman was sexually assaulted on that night.  Her fear of flying, her obviously anxious personality, her kind of quirky neurosis, it is all textbook PTSD response to sexual assault.

I also know that eye-witness testimony can be genuinely believed by the eye witness and also be wrong. Many of the people who have been exonerated on death row were convicted based on eye witness testimony.  Human memory is inherently hazy, biased, and confusing and can be unreliable.

None of us can say for sure what happened that night. I believe Dr. Ford believes her version of the truth.  And clearly there is a truth.  This happened, or it did not.

As an aside, I also like this woman a lot. She is testifying before the nation, and she is drinking a coke. A COKE.  Right on.  And I am impressed by her bravery and her intelligence and her demeanor. Not to mention her phd and her voice. What she is doing today is by no means an easy feat.

Regardless, what we believe about what happened is less important than what we believe about what it means if it did happen. I do not know what happened.  I do not know what level of proof is needed to exclude someone from the bench.

But here is what I do believe deep in my bones to be true. If this assault happened, Judge Kavanaugh cannot be confirmed as a justice for the Supreme Court of the United States of America but likely will be.

Various senators stated, before the testimony, that regardless of the testimony, it would not affect their vote. That is, they say, what happened on one night long ago in the young man’s life doesn’t take away the whole rest of his  life. There is this thinking, it was a young man.  “Boys will be boys.” He was drunk. Or it was long ago.  It does not matter anymore.

That kind of thinking is not acceptable and ensures the rampant culture of collegiate sexual assault will continue.  That kind of thinking keeps the balance of power against the victims of assault.

What is one night for a drunk young man is a lifetime for the female victim. The impact of sexual assault is exactly as Dr. Ford explains.

It creates a lifetime of anxiety.  It makes days like this for victims excruciatingly painful.  They are trigger days and are incapacitating for women who have been the victims of sexual assault.

What might be one night for a bad actor is a lifetime of processing and overcoming and surviving for the victim.

There can be no “young drunk man” exception to what is expected from the nation’s highest judicial power.  Men do not get a “free college pass” or a “free boarding school pass” or any sort of pass to assault women.

There is no, “it’s okay it was just one time.”  There is no “it was just a bachelor party” there is no “but he was so drunk.”

There is also absolutely no “well she was drunk and should not have been.” Or, “why was she at the party?” Or, “look at all the bad choices she made to get her there.”

No. no. no. no. no.  Enough. Enough is enough.

Women should not be expected to make perfect choices to avoid being the victims of violent crime.

And men should be given no passes for being the perpetrators of violent crime.

Of course I believe in forgiveness and redemption.  I have written about it often.  I need it for myself in big ways.  God, actual God, knows the things I have done for which I crave and desire redemption.

None of us is perfect.  We have all made choices we regret.  And we all deserve to have another chance to recreate ourselves and make a new peace in our lives, even after hurting other people.

But, we also know that our actions have consequences.  For all of us (but what about for them?).  There are things we do that can never be taken back as much as we might desperately want to take them back.  And accountability exists for those choices, in the form of lost relationships, loss sense of self, shame, etc.

Accountability must also exist for all sexual assaults of womenThere can be no free passes. None.  Not one.

I do not know what happened that night.  But I strongly believe if it happened as Dr. Ford describes, Kavanaugh has no place on the bench.

I believe we, as a nation, must demonstrate that we do not believe in the rich boy pass. Or the drunk boy pass.  Or the young college prep guy pass.

I believe we have to stop writing sexual assault off as standard party culture. Or as the fault of the victim. Or as anything other than what it is: violent crime of the most intimate sort. I believe we, as a country, have to say enough is enough.

Time is up, America.

 Sexual assault is never okay.  Sexual assaulters need to know their time will come, and they will be held accountable.

We can believe Dr. Ford or not. But if we believe her, there is only one action we can take.

The judicial system does not give out free passes to drug addicts, to thieves, to low-income criminals committing so-called victimless crimes.  Judge Kavanaugh himself is not a downward-departure, criminal-friendly kind of judge.

We as a nation cannot give a free pass to a sexual assaulter.  Sexual assault is a real crime.  It is a violent crime.  It is NOT a victimless crime.  And it is a crime that impacts the victim for the rest of the victim’s life.

No more excuses. No more winking and nodding. No more “boys will be boys.”

Enough is enough.

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