Some stories are too painful to follow, and this is a million of them

Women in the 1980’s accepted sexual violence as an unfortunate byproduct of a social life

Every so often it’s advisable to take a break from the news.

This occurred first in our family the morning of September 15, 2001.

Ceaseless coverage of the terror attacks in the United States eventually sent millions fleeing the reality of CNN for the comfort of the Cartoon Network – just for relief and to not feel sick.

More recently there was the disruption of the US Supreme Court confirmation process after a respected university professor accused the respected Justice Brett Kavanaugh of attacking her at a party, 36 years ago when she was 15.

She said he held her down on a bed, groped and grinded against her, and covered her mouth when she screamed.

Since Dr. Christine Blasey Ford went public with her claims she has received death threats. She can’t leave her house. When she does she is followed and afraid.

A broadcaster interviewed a panel of her peers, in a living room setting. All discredited Ford.

One opined that even if there was veracity to the story “it wasn’t like there was intercourse.” Another said: “Show me a teenage boy who hasn’t done the same thing.”

The kindest response Republican leadership managed is that Ford must be confused.

President Donald Trump suggested if the incident was so serious, she or her parents would have called the authorities.

Ford is 52.

Me too.

It’s important to appreciate that, in 1982 when Ford says this happened, the majority would not have characterized it as a crime.

The attack (allegedly) happened the same year Canada passed Bill C-127, which replaced the charge of “rape” with a broader spectrum of offenses labelled as sexual assault.

And it took a few decades to get the word out.

Women then, especially young women, were inclined to view sexual violence and intimidation as the unfortunate, albeit unavoidable, byproducts of having a social life.

Consent was a form you brought home in your binder, to be signed, so you could participate in a field trip.

In 1982 the results of my own “dating” experiences included – on separate occasions – a swollen upper lip, a splay of small bruises on the fleshy part of my arm, and a pair of shredded feet that walked bare for miles on a gravel road, having been unceremoniously dumped in the wilderness along with the rest of an unwilling anatomy.

It’s a mulish weakness – the more someone wants me to agree to something that’s not my idea, the more resistance it creates.

There was also the night I sneaked through the back door, hiding the blood on my shirt from Mom and Dad. It wasn’t my DNA. Only, when a person refuses to listen to your words it can become necessary to bite him on the face. (Facial lacerations bleed copiously. Isn’t that excellent?)

All of that is remarkable only for its complete lack of remarkableness. Ask any woman who came of age when Tom Cruise, Ralph Macchio and Rob Lowe were hot the first time around.

You didn’t talk to your parents, you didn’t tell at school, and you didn’t call the police.

You sat in your room with the door closed, on a ruffled bedspread surrounded by stuffed animals, feeling sick.

These thoughts, over the past week, were unsettling enough to require a “planes hitting the building” time-out from cable news.

Telling the whole truth, I was on CNN’s website yesterday – just peeking – and read a second woman has come forward with allegations related to a party in a university dormitory.

(Judge, the two of us should have gone to fewer parties when we were crazy kids, yes?)

There are those who sympathize with Kavanaugh, even if he’s guilty as not-charged.

These things either happened or did not happen a long time ago. Please look at and admire the life and reputation he’s built. Think of his family.

The proposed next Supreme Court Justice of the United States is now forced to defend his teenage self, and maybe consider events he hasn’t reflected on in 36 years. Regardless of how the confirmation resolves itself, this is a time he will never be able to forget, no matter how hard he tries. It will shape his future in ways he hasn’t even imagine yet.

When he turns on the TV, he probably feels sick.

Man. That’s really gotta suck.

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publisher@similkameenspotlight.com
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andrea.demeer@similkameenspotlight.com

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