“He’s Always Been Good to Me”

After Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony, all these people came out of the woodwork to say how nice Brett Kavanaugh had always been to them. I’m glad to hear it. But what has that got to do with her testimony?

It’s the same after someone becomes a spree killer. “He was always so quiet. He paid his rent on time. He used to hold the door open for me.”

Humans are complex, folks. The fact that Kavanaugh volunteered at a soup kitchen does not absolve him from any crimes he may also have committed. And it certainly does not mean that he couldn’t possibly have committed crimes. Character references only get you so far. Charles Manson got more fan mail than any other prisoner in American history. That doesn’t make him a Boy Scout.

I’m really glad that Brett Kavanaugh isn’t the devil incarnate. I hope he has many opportunities to help little old ladies cross the street. We need that in this world.

But do I believe that at least once in his life, his did a horrible, unforgivable, unacceptable thing, and because of that a woman’s life was changed for the worse? Yes. Yes, I do.

Until we make it crystal clear that such behavior is unacceptable, that all the soup kitchens on earth won’t make up for it, there will be no reducing the amount of sexual assault in this society.

Boys must be taught that no means no. It’s that simple. Even my dog understands it.

And just so we’re clear, a yes that changes into a no is also a no. And an intoxicated yes is a no. It’s about respect. Respect for others and respect for yourself. If you can’t follow those simple rules, you should expect consequences, no matter how nice you are most of the time. Sorry to disappoint you.

I’m reminded of something my late boyfriend used to say. “You can pour all the syrup on it that you want, but that don’t make it a pancake.”

Pancake

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In Spite Of, Not Because Of

So many good things came from the Christine Blasey Ford hearing. She started a long overdue national discussion about abuse and, even more basically, about what it means to be a woman in this world. This genie will never be put back into the bottle, and I think our culture will be all the better for it. Being heard provides an opportunity for healing.

Believe it or not, I’m a very quiet person. Because of that, it’s assumed, I hope correctly, that I’m a good listener. Therefore, people tend to confide in me. So I have heard a lot of amazing stories of survival over the years.

These stories have left me with two lasting impressions. 1) We live in a world that is a great deal more violent and abusive than most people realize or care to admit, and 2) I will always be fascinated by people’s ability to survive and even thrive in spite of the many obstacles that are thrown in their paths.

I know a woman whose mother tried to kill her on multiple occasions. I know a woman whose parents attempted to beat the gay out of her. I know a woman who was sexually abused at an extremely young age by a never-ending series of her mother’s boyfriends. I know many people who have been beaten up for simply being who they are. I know a man who was so severely tortured by his alcoholic father that to this day he is afraid of his own shadow.

I’ve learned of knives being held to throats. Legs broken and improperly healed. Humiliations and punishments beyond your worst nightmares.

Every one of these people survived in spite of, not because of, the people around them. Those people should have been supporting them and raising them up in life, not beating them down. The fact that abusers seem to flourish in this society is an outrage.

Survivors are my heroes. They have a depth of character that people who have had the good fortune of waltzing through life unscathed will never achieve. But I’ve come to believe that depth of character wasn’t brought out by the abuse. I think it was always there, deep inside. Humans have this uncanny ability to default to incredible if given half a chance.

So, if survivors are already awesome, imagine how much more they could have been without the toxicity that was injected into their lives. What gifts has this hostile world deprived itself of? What are we missing? How much further could this society have evolved without all the harm that it inflicts upon itself? What an incredible waste.

Something to think about.

Michael Paul Miller The Calling
The Calling, by Michael Paul Miller

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#WhyIDidntReport

These are very triggering times, boys and girls. And they should be. They should be. Because Trump’s piss-poor attitude about Christine Blasey Ford is just a reflection of our general cultural ignorance regarding the subject of sexual assault and abuse.

One of the most outrageous things to come out of Trump’s pie-hole (and let’s admit that that bar is already set pretty freakin’ low) is, “Why didn’t somebody call the FBI 36 years ago?”

Um… because the FBI doesn’t deal with the abuse of traumatized teenagers? Because 36 years ago, nobody gave a shit about girls being sexually assaulted? Because to this day, it’s an uphill battle to get justice in these situations?

Gee, I dunno. Why on earth didn’t she report Kavanaugh 36 years ago?

Let me jump on the bandwagon with the thousands of others out there who are attempting to patiently explain #WhyIDidntReport.

Forty-Three years ago, when I was 11 years old, my stepfather began sexually abusing me. This went on for two years, until, at age 13, I broke a board across his knee and told him that if he ever touched me again, I’d kill him. And he knew I meant it. I knew I meant it. I’ve never been so certain of anything in my entire life. He never touched me again.

That was the closest I ever came to justice. Other than that, he got off scot-free. And he didn’t do me the courtesy of dying until I was 27, so I could have reported. But I didn’t. Here are some of the millions of reasons why:

  • I was a good girl, taught to respect my elders. He was the adult in the situation, so even though what he was doing felt awful, to my young mind, it must be right. Right?

  • I was 21 years old before it occurred to me that what he did wasn’t my fault. No one ever told me that. (It’s not your fault, either, by the way.)

  • I was afraid that if I spoke up, I’d be taken away from my mother and thrown into foster care, where the abuse would continue, this time by strangers.

  • I didn’t want to bother anyone. It’s not polite to rock the boat.

  • I was afraid that if my stepfather went to jail, we would become even poorer than we already were, and we were living in a tent at the time.

  • I didn’t want my mother to get into trouble.

  • Because I was just a kid, ill equipped to take on the whole world.

  • I didn’t want the world to know my humiliation.

  • I didn’t understand how the law worked.

  • I saw on TV how women who went to court about these things where treated like whores and emotionally abused by the defense lawyers.

  • I was shy.

  • I had such low self-esteem I didn’t think I deserved justice.

  • I didn’t want to think about it.

  • I wanted it all to go away.

  • When I told my mother, she said I was “making too much of it.”

  • When I told his adult son, he didn’t do anything.

  • When I told a counselor at school, he didn’t do anything.

  • I was all alone in this.

  • Most of my female friends had been abused at some point, too. They didn’t report, either.

  • Because as time wore on, I knew I was less and less credible.

  • Because it would be my word against his, and he was a white male.

  • Because attitudes like Trumps are the rule, not the exception, and because of that, we get Supreme Court Judges like Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh.

I could go on and on. But if you are the kind of ignorant asshole who doesn’t feel that all of the above is enough, then there’s no convincing you. So I’m done.

IMG_3449
Given the subject matter, I felt that only a self-portrait would do. But this was an extremely emotional photo to take.

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