Diane Miessler: Who would stand for any of us?
Yesterday I had to sit in my car and stop crying before I could go into the grocery store. I’d been listening to the news about Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings. It brought back memories.
When I was 15, I foolishly accepted a ride with a grown man I didn’t know, who looked sort of like my uncle. On Highway 580 heading towards Hayward, he said he wanted to stop somewhere and make out. I said no. He said he’d drive me to Stockton and leave me there if I didn’t. I said fine, drive me to Stockton. I’m not making out with you. My hands were shaking.
He then pulled off onto a deserted road somewhere in Livermore, saying “Let’s just make out and I’ll drive you back.” I managed to open the door when he slowed down on a curve and, despite his pushing my head down to keep me in, I jumped out of the car. He ripped my dress during the struggle; luckily, there was a house nearby and he knew there might be observers. He reluctantly gave me back my Roy Rogers lunchbox – I carried it ironically – and drove away when he couldn’t convince me to get back in. (He was sorry and he’d drive me home.)
I believe I would have been raped and probably killed if that house hadn’t been there. The idea of getting a license plate never crossed my racing mind; it now haunts me that this guy undoubtedly tried again with someone else.
I never told my parents, or anyone but the nice mail lady who found me crying in my torn dress by the road and gave me a ride to the bus stop. I went home, sewed up my dress, and continued numbly about my business. I’m sure my parents assumed I was acting weird because I was a teenager.
I didn’t tell my parents, just like I didn’t tell them about the creepy guys who periodically exposed themselves to me when I was out walking around. I just didn’t talk about it; 80% of women who are sexually assaulted don’t. Why? Because it’s creepy, it’s embarrassing, you feel ashamed and dirty.
When President Trump tweeted “I have no doubt that if (italics mine) the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says charges would have been immediately filed by either her or her loving parents,” he didn’t just imply that Dr. Ford is lying. He also perpetuated a profound lack of understanding of what happens to a woman after such an attack.
What put me over the edge in the parking lot, though, was hearing that, in 2011, the fraternity to which Kavanaugh had belonged in the ’80s gathered outside the University Women’s Center chanting “No means yes! Yes means anal!” Women are apparently something less than human to these Yale-educated men.
That fraternity, known as Delta Kappa Epsilon or DKE, has always been known as a hotbed of sexual misconduct. There are no records of Kavanaugh participating in such acts – I don’t claim to know what happened with him and Dr. Ford. But here’s what I do know:
- Christine Ford has had to go into hiding with her family because of death threats. She had to have known the firestorm her accusation would set off. This is not something done lightly.
- Ford wants to talk to the FBI. Kavanaugh doesn’t.
- The response by at least half of the people responsible for confirming Kavanaugh has NOT been concern about the possibility the accusations are true and what that would mean about their candidate. It has been an effort to hurry the process along and get Kavanaugh appointed to his lifetime position in the Supreme Court. Thursday has been allotted for truth-finding. Friday has been allotted for the vote.
They say “boys will be boys,” and it’s true, it’s normal for teenage boys to be randomly randy for a while. It’s NOT normal, I hope to God, for teenage boys to dehumanize women to the extent that they think it’s OK to rape and sodomize them. And it’s chilling to me that so many men in power are eager to install Kavanaugh in the Supreme Court after a one-day investigation of Ford’s claims.
If these claims are true, what does it say about Kavanaugh’s character? But more importantly, what are we to think when we see that most of the people in power aren’t too worried about it? Is attempted rape the new normal? Is it excused by youth?
I like to think that most men have never attempted rape, no matter how young or how drunk they were. I want to believe that most men are too decent, and that they hold other men to the same standard.
I like men. I trust the men in my life. But I find myself wondering who will stand for this woman? Who will stand for any of us?
Diane Miessler lives in Nevada City.
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