Christine Blasey Ford, I Am With You

I’m having trouble working or concentrating today.

As I sit in my house, far from the reality of what Christine Blasey Ford is experiencing at the cold hands of our government, I somehow feel like I’m experiencing it with her. When she speaks my body reacts with a nervousness of stress that is unreasonable given I’m not her, and I’m not there. My heart rate is elevated, the beating of it pounding hard in my chest. I feel sweaty. I feel like I can’t quite breathe. I’m shaking. My hands are trembling on my keyboard as I type this.

I want to cry. I feel the tears so close to falling.

I don’t know how she is doing this. I don’t have any idea how she has the strength to be in that room and share this personal, traumatic experience with the world. I don’t know the kind of bravery it must take to open yourself up to so much hate and judgment. I want to be believe that I have it in me, but I sit here in my kitchen, unable to catch my breath and it’s not me there facing this.

I wonder if other women are feeling what I’m feeling. Politics aside. Because we all know someone, if not ourselves, who’s had this experience. Her story isn’t fantastical. No. It’s familiar. It rings true. Maybe it’s why women believe her. Maybe it’s why I’m shaking, because the sad, sad, truth is that her story isn’t even unique. I’ve heard it before. Far too many times. Women being held down. Women being groped. Women being silenced. Women being outnumbered. Women being overpowered. Women wondering if they would die. Women wondering if they’d be raped.

Women being raped.

We know them. They are all of us. Even if we’ve never experienced something this traumatic, we’ve come close. We’ve had the experience of being in a situation that could easily deteriorate. We know, oh god do we know, how easily we can be overpowered. We live our lives carefully trying to avoid this scenario while also knowing it can happen anytime, anywhere.

And now, at our age, these women aren’t only us, they are our daughters.

Maybe that’s why I’m shaking. Maybe that’s why I’m viscerally experiencing what Christine is experiencing. The world is still just as dangerous for women as it has been with no end in sight. Our own government making sure of that by voting down the Violence Against Women Act.

Nothing has changed.

The same men sit on this committee who attacked Anita Hill. The same men. Victims of sexual assault who report it are put on trial. It is THEIR character that is attacked and questioned. What we are witnessing here today is timeless in America. It could be any decade. It could even been decades into the future. That makes my heart pound harder in my chest. I don’t see a time when women will ever be respected and treated as equal to men. We will be collateral damage in the way of a man getting a job he doesn’t deserve.

I ask myself, How many sexually assaulted women equal one man’s career aspirations? What is the tipping point when the man is determined the one in the wrong?

I know that some people will read this and react to it from a lens of politics. That also makes me want to cry. Sexual assault should not be a political issue. We, all decent human beings, should be able to agree that sexual assault and violence against women is wrong.  And victims speaking out should be respected and not be put on trial.

Despite how it may look and sound and feel for Christine today, and for me and for all of the women watching and feeling it with her as if we are her, Christine Blasey Ford is not on trial today. Brett Kavanaugh is having a job interview for a very important position for the future of law, justice, and our very democracy. It is not on her to prove her worth, her character, or her story. She is simply offering up information that our government will have to now consider before extending a job offer by either investigating it or dismissing it.

But, they will treat Christine like she’s on trial. They already have. They will do it because they truly believe that accusations of sexual assault don’t matter against a man they like. They will rationalize  this as just a part of being a teenager. That boys will be boys. That women shouldn’t go to parties. That rape culture is a part of life and there’s nothing we can do about it. Women should expect, yes, expect, to be sexually assaulted, groped, grabbed, masturbated in front of, moved on like a bitch, held down, undressed. Silenced.

My government is telling me that the worst part about sexual assault is the women who won’t stay silenced about it. That the women reporting are the problem.

I’m shaking. I can’t quite breathe. Because I’m watching my government tell me that men have all the power and there’s nothing I can do about it. I’m tearing up because the men in my government are holding me down, covering my mouth, turning up the music, and laughing among themselves as I try to free myself from being violated.

Christine’s story is familiar to me. It’s all our stories. I believe her. I stand with her.

 

18 Comments

  1. Jon Hand on November 16, 2018 at 11:41 am

    Rereading your piece now that Brett’s on the SCOTUS. Sad day for justice, ironically.

    As usual you did a great job of putting your thoughts into words, and you eloquently stated things that need to be said.

    I have daughters, too. I’m shaking with you.

  2. Kathryn on September 29, 2018 at 8:49 pm

    Thank you for putting these thoughtful words together over something that we have to stop pretending doesn’t happen to us as women. If we can’t do it for ourselves who have experienced or witnessed it firsthand, then let’s be part of the generation who stops this from happening for our daughters, our sisters and our friends. We can’t silence the brave women who have every right to speak up and be heard…my heart goes out to them.

  3. Carole Katz on September 28, 2018 at 11:31 pm

    Thank you. You speak truth when you’re funny and you speak truth when you’re serious.

    • M. on September 29, 2018 at 11:07 am

      What a nice compliment. Thank you so much.

  4. Tony Whitaker on September 28, 2018 at 9:30 am

    Well said.

    • Lorraine Fletcher on September 29, 2018 at 7:50 am

      I empathize and derply feel the pain for all victims of sexual assault, or any trauma caused by another person, yet this writing makes it political again. Yes, the victim is feeling humiliated, shamed and judged. This is also what the accused feels as his reputation and life are destroyed by allegations, true or false.
      How can we claim to support the accuser or accused when Christine’s memory lapses are so significant that she can’t remember many facts.
      Years ago when we heard about cases of sexual abuse in day care centers, justifiably, parents became hyper vigilant, it became epidemic. Parents, counselors interrogating children. Then…children took those questions, thought about them, dreamt about them and they became truths, ya’ll must remember.
      Could this scenario have similarities with Christine,l? Haven’t we all awakened from sleep with haunted feelings of a dream that was too real?
      The political atmosphere has become toxic and in the meantime, lives, careers and dignity are being destroyed.
      Instead of Left vs Right, what did happen? It seems many have used it to champion their personal crusade, just jumping on the bandwagon, unfair and blatantly contradicting our judiciary system.
      I’m too shaken to the core, it could happen to you, me, a friend, loved one. Making this personal, screaming and rallying in such disorderly fashion overshadows the real concern. Just my thoughts…

      • M. on September 29, 2018 at 11:28 am

        You know what I find interesting about your comments? That you don’t think that it is fair for us to deeply evaluate the moral character of a person who will sit on the highest court in our democracy for life. I can’t honestly think of anything more important than the content of a person’s character when being considered for the honor and responsibility of sitting on this court. Judge Kavanaugh, like every other politician and judge before him, has opened himself up to extreme vetting by not only those in our government, but by the people. It is our job as citizens of this great nation to assess his professional and personal qualification and we are not only entitled to speak up about it, we are required to in accordance with our democracy.

        As for this argument from the Rs that this is all political, nonsense. How come Sotomayor, Kagen, Roberts, and Gorsuch didn’t experience this? It’s simple. There were no allegations of this level put forth against them. They were honorable despite their political leanings. And, just as a point of reference, judges on the Supreme Court are not supposed to be politically motivated. They are to adhere to thoughtful reflection of the law and the constitution.

        And if you want to talk about our judiciary system…this is it. Allegations are made. An investigation ensues. A trial happens if there is evidence. A verdict is reached. Kavanaugh knows this. He’s 100% aware of how our justice system works. What’s suspect about him is that he seems to think it won’t for work for him. As a judge, he hears cases from people who have had allegations leveled at them. He tells them that the justice system works. Why doesn’t he think he will be exonerated after an investigation? Hmmm…

        As for women believing Dr. Ford, we aren’t in a trial scenario, which is where you are innocent until proven guilty. For women, our very survival requires us to assess what a man is capable of doing to us if we were alone with him. It’s a shit side effect of living in this society where women are not protected from sexual assault and blamed when they do speak out. I would not want to be alone with him in the 80s because it rang true to me, because I know those guys. After his belligerent, disrespectful, spitting-anger displayed in the hearing, I would NOT want to be alone with him in present day. I would be terrified.

        And as for you not believing Dr. Ford because of she doesn’t know the exact date, that’s ridiculous. I have strong memories of events at parties but I could not possibly tell you the date, I might not even remember the street address or whose house we were at. I’m sure if you were honest with yourself you’d understand this is true. I once saw two kids from the play that I was in, Anything Goes, snorting cocaine in a car at a cast party. I can place that night in maybe March or April of 1985 without digging out my Playbill. I remember we were at a party at the beach. I don’t remember the make and mode of the car. But I can name both kids and even the roles they played.

        I feel it’s sad you don’t believe Christine, but even sadder you don’t believe children. It’s why people don’t tell their parents. Because their parents will tell them it didn’t happen, it was just a dream, and the nice man with the Yale Law degree couldn’t have done it, your uncle is a respectable man, the priest is a man of god, the neighbor is on the honor roll. And on and on and on.

  5. Wendy on September 28, 2018 at 6:44 am

    Thanks for writing and sharing this. You are always spot on.

  6. Jon on September 27, 2018 at 10:20 pm

    THIS!!! Exactly this…

  7. Erin on September 27, 2018 at 5:21 pm

    Wonderfully stated. We stand united as women, knowing how powerful it is that she shares this, giving a face and a voice to far too many. And we as women, God I hope we don’t judge, that we don’t look away. Her vulnerability is the highest form of bravery- and we should embrace her, connect with her, and all the millions she represents.

  8. Terri L. Bartlett on September 27, 2018 at 4:05 pm

    So powerful Meredith! Thank you. I’m really sorry for our country and our world.

    I do want to note that I differ in your reaction – only a little! I refuse to take it anymore. Yes, the demonstration by numerous people in that room is disgraceful. On the other hand, it keeps me sane and balanced to see those who are standing up … for the right to be heard … for respect and ultimately, equality!

    What helped me most today is reading about 1,600 men put their name in an ad in the New York Times … today! https://adage.com/creativity/work/phenomenal-women-1600-men/950001

    I don’t know that that has ever happened. Yes, women stand up… we have seen that far too many times. But, I never recall seeing that number of men uniting behind a statement of equality and fairness in real time. As Marie (our Marie) said when I sent this same link to her: “Progress.”

    Feel your feelings … your rage … your sadness … your despair. But, then – reach deep (really deep) to find that fight in you because that is what it’s going to take. The slow, steady progress as we work to be heard. And, for today, I hear you! Sending a very big (cyber) hug.

    • M. on September 28, 2018 at 7:20 am

      Love this, Terri!! Yes, yesterday felt like a punch in the gut, but today I’m ready to fight back. We have to. And you’re right…so many men are with us, united to end this kind of judgment and unfair treatment of women. As always, you have lifted my spirits and buoyed me onward. I got the big cyber hug and I’m sending one back to you!! xoxoxoxoxo

  9. Jodie Utter on September 27, 2018 at 3:44 pm

    Thank you, love, as always, for opening your mouth and speaking to your stories and thus the rest of ours as well. I stand with you, and with Dr. Ford, with tears flowing and my own story pouring out today as well.

  10. Heather Moore on September 27, 2018 at 1:33 pm

    You put into words exactly how I am feeling listening to her. Thank you.

  11. Marla on September 27, 2018 at 12:13 pm

    God, I am watching it from work. I watched her nervously get prepared for what was about to happen. The attacks, the hatred. Not so much what she was about to recount. But about the blatant hatred being spewed at her. I was watching on facebook and the comments that were streaming along side the video were pure hatred. God, I thought, no wonder no one reports it “when it happens”. They made hateful comments about her hair, her glasses, her nervousness was interpreted as guilt. God, it made me so upset.
    “I ask myself, How many sexually assaulted women equal one man’s career aspirations?” Well, said.
    No she can’t prove it, yes, it was 30 years ago, but that doesn’t mean that it didn’t change her and it does mean that she should be able to impart information that may change the viewpoints of the people that are giving him the position. A position by the way that may impact the future laws of our country. So let’s stop condemning someone that comes forth with information through personal attacks via social media, news media etc. Let’s take it for what it is and investigate the validity of the claims. But the personal attacks that make one fearful to come forward have to stop.
    (BTW I didn’t report it because he was a relative and I was afraid my father would kill him and go to jail. )

    • M. on September 28, 2018 at 7:24 am

      Thanks for this comment, Maria. And for sharing your own experience. It’s crazy the way even women judge and attack other women just for sharing an experience and speaking out against violence that happens all time for women. I can’t even watch the comments and I’m afraid to have my feeling on this out as it will attract attackers to me. I’ve already gotten one email and lost followers. But, if Dr. Ford can stand up there and face this, I can handle a little blog hate! We must stick together and continue to fight for things to change. My friend, Terri just reminded me of that. xoxo M.

  12. Robyn Muller on September 27, 2018 at 11:44 am

    M. You speak words of truth for all of us. Breathe, be strong, use your voice, it helps all of us to use our own to speak up and be strong too. Thank you 🙏🏻

  13. Stephanie Eagan on September 27, 2018 at 11:33 am

    M, incredibly powerful piece. I hope we will all be able to stop shaking and breathe again soon.

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