There is a change coming, for with Blasey Ford’s courage in the Kavanaugh hearings women have an extraordinary marker of how to do what is good for us to do, and how to let go of our silence.
And there is another marker — the one that signals a massive crack in the status quo as it has been manifested toward women — the one that we saw this week reveal itself as the surprised gasp of a dying beast.
A lot of white men until now have felt entitled — and free — to do whatever they want. This entire last year and a half has revealed just how much white men in authority have taken advantage of women and minorities for one reason — because they could. They have had the power and money to affect and even destroy careers and the well-being of so many. They have done this out of a certainty that they had a right to use people any way they chose, and that there would few, if any, consequences.
Actress and activist America Ferrera, herself a victim of sexual assault, said in a CNN interview recently how disturbing it was to watch “this angry white man tantrum” by Brett Kavanaugh and to witness the reactions of male Republican senators to the testimony of Christine Blasey Ford: “I wish there were some women who were allowed to rant and rave the way the senators were, because God knows how they [the women] would have been treated had they dared talk and rant and get angry.”
In truth, NO ONE is allowed to rant and rage and get away with it in this country— and be praised for doing so— except white men. And that ranting and raving carried out by Senate Republicans during the hearing, as well as by Kavanaugh, displayed the opposite of the measured discourse one would expect in so serious a matter.
But why did they behave that way? Their anger expressed an outrage born of suddenly realizing someone had dared to question their authority. The beast rears up when it is challenged and is afraid it could lose. That last part is unspoken, not even admitted, yet very present now. There is no going back from what has been shown to us this week. The entitlement the Republican men on the panel showed was a demonstration of their essential indifference to the traumatic subject under inquiry — but the rage they expressed came out of fear.
The indifference the panel displayed is an old shadow that has driven our culture for a long, long time, but its reckoning day has come. Women have been given a new light in which to see themselves and their choices and what they decide to do about anything — anything — that happens to them or threatens them. It’s not going to be swept under the rug anymore. That is impossible from this point forward.
The job of women is not to tolerate men who are indifferent to the effects of predatory behavior upon women, whether those behaviors are verbal or physical. Our job now is to remember how strong we are, in spite of all we have experienced. Our job is to remember what we are here for, and to understand we have a higher purpose.
For the job of women is to ignore the dying beast, which will rant and rave for some years to come, no doubt, and instead attend to their own innate and extraordinary worth as human beings.
That is what we are here for.