I felt shame watching the Senate Judiciary Hearings, listening to the compelling testimony of a woman who was clearly a victim of abuse, followed by the hysterical, rage-fueled rant of an entitled male who tried to project his own “victimization” at the hands of the Democratic opposition, and, implied, at the hands of a woman. As the Republicans responded in lame support of his claim of innocence, it became clearly evident that this was the last sorry yelp of the patriarchy that somehow refuses to die, its fat, bloated carcass still befouling the waters.
I felt shame for the behaviour of my gender, watching the carefully crafted condescension of the Republican Senators who tried to be politically correct by “allowing” Dr. Christine Blasey Ford her say, all the while making it abundantly clear that her testimony was a mere nuisance they had to permit to save face with their constituents on an already done deal. It was a well-engineered charade.
Who can forget Sen. Lindsey (The Angry Little Pig) Graham’s vitriolic outburst of indignation, raving that he was “scandalized” by the proceedings, when in fact he was only scandalized by Ford exposing that the Emperor Has No Clothes (and is quick to shed them once they have a young woman in their predatory grasp). What about Texas Senator Ted (“Prayerfully”) Cruz, the fundamentalist bumpkin who believes God is on America’s side (as long as that side is male) and who asserted that Ford’s testimony was, in affect, “nonsense” and “outlandish,” implying the unsaid “How DARE she question and challenge us! We are MEN, after all!”
And who can forget that dramatic moment when Sen. Jeff Flake was confronted by the two women in the elevator before the vote, confronted by their anger, despair, and TRUTH, until he finally hung his head in shame and returned to the hearing to force further investigation, being perhaps the only Republican man at the hearings with a soul? One can only hope that his demands shortened the days of the Senate Majority Leader, Mitch (“No, I’m Not Really a Turtle, I Just Look Like One”) McConnell as he slunk back into his hollow shell.
So, from where does this fear and dare I suggest hatred of women come from? Why the desire to control what women do with their bodies, and why the fear that women, once given true and fair equality, will signal the end of civilization as we (they/men) know it? Look no further than the author of the first book of the Bible, Genesis, who quotes the Trickster God, Yahweh, in His curse cast upon Eve and her “kind”:
I will greatly multiply your pain in childbearing;
in pain you shall bring forth children,
yet your desire shall be for your husband,
and he shall rule over you. (Gen. 3, 16)
The misogyny in this passage is abundantly clear (note the double mention of “pain”), but it is the second part that bears noting. “Desire,” as interpreted by the members of the Tea Party and all their Mad Hatters, is nothing more than acquiescence: Alice in her cups, an eager and willing subject to the depravities awaiting her by the all male cast in her or is it His/story. This passage excuses the male desire to rape, since after all, the male is the one who will “rule” over women. It is this that is at the heart of the anger men felt when they were rightly set upon by the centuries of indignity suffered by women, articulated so heroically and eloquently by Dr. Blasey Ford.
It is also what made them cringe, and maybe for a brief moment sweat and feel a tug of shame.
Perhaps I am an old cynic who thinks nothing will change, that Dr. Ford’s anguish will have served no real purpose, that the Judge will be confirmed and live to rule for years on women’s fate, all to serve the special interest groups that support him. That Ford will be offered a book contract and lucrative speaking assignments by the male establishment, and that all will be right with God and America.
Yet there is a part of me, the part of me that wants to turn my male shame into anger, anger at all the injustices that have been visited on women and that I cannot bear to be a part of. There is a part of me that feels that we are at a special turning point in our history where women will speak out and will make the change that is so needed in our world, a sea change that the #MeToo Movement started.
Let us hope, then, that this story that was once only His/story become OUR story and that we may all, women and men alike, openly feel with those victims whose voices have been silenced for far, far too long!