Whoa, it’s been a hell of a 2 weeks in DC. How to make sense of everything that went on? The accusations! The testimony! The face-contorting & screaming! Susan Collins thinking she wasn’t going to get slammed by women for kicking them to the curb!
I was twice on Capitol Hill in the last 2 weeks, sometimes meeting with senators’ offices and staff, sometimes outside demonstrating. The whole experience was so surreal, I can only communicate it using some movie references:
1) Deliverance. Fire up the banjos. The overwhelming impression all this leaves me with is that these men really just want to be having sex with each other. I don’t mean literally having sex, I mean intercourse. And by intercourse I mean communicating with other men, dealing only with other men, thinking only other men are important. So many of the things Kavanaugh was reported to have done seem designed to impress other men with what cocksman he is. Maybe he really was a virgin for years, I don’t know. But the sexually assaulting a woman in front of his best friend, for the laughs, the public exposure of his penis in a party setting, and the truly weird and vile things described in his yearbook entry (BTW, who the hell lets students put this stuff in their yearbook? he’s hardly the poster child for the value of a religious education) really seem aimed at other men, rather than expressive of a desire to have sex with a woman. (Ewwww, girls.)
2) Thelma & Louise. “When a girl cries like that, she isn’t having any fun.” Thank you Susan Sarandon, for the best line in the movie. Guys, take note. The whole 2 weeks of seeing how clueless some men are about the female experience made me want to cry and drive off a cliff. But I’m going to be optimistic and say we are all more woke now :-)
3) Remember the Titans. “Attitude reflect leadership, captain.” The pithy retort of the unofficial leader of the black players being chastised by the official white captain of the team (and whatever happened to that actor, he was fabulous!), who called him on expecting black players to work for the good of the team while not in fact including them and seeing them as full team members. The attitude of Kavanaugh and the Republican senators towards women reflects in all its glory the attitude of their team captain.
4) The Wizard of Oz. Wow, have we seen behind the curtain. The thing that struck me most from the days I was in DC going in and out of senators’ offices with my lobbying piece, a quote from the ABA Model Rules of Judicial Conduct (you would cry to know what it is and how shortchanged we got in the judge we got) and holding my signs up and chanting “Vote No” and trading my custom-made Anita Hill mug (that movement authored the phrase “Me Too,” see below 1991 protest pin) for “Believe Survivors” pins & flyers, was this: Boy, have we seen behind the curtain. I think the powers that be have benefited enormously from the innate respect that many of us as Americans have for what we were taught in civics class is the American political system. Ha. And Ha again. The whole 2 weeks was such an insane eye-opener as to the role of money, power, misogyny, theater, bullying (am I the only one who wonders if Melania’s anti-bullying campaign is a personal cry for help?), etc. in what we think of as the “American political system.” So many people were shocked when I told them I just walked into senators’ offices and spoke with staff. So many people were amazed that a senator could be cornered in an elevator and made to look at a woman when she’s talking to him. I noticed several senators started taking Capitol police with them while they were walking through the SOBs (Senate Office Buildings- yes, really). Senators were interrupted and heckled while being interviewed by the news media. And all this is to the good. Y’all, this is OUR democracy. Elected officials are our employees (we pay them a sweet salary, benefits, give them staff and very pretty offices, and they get a lifetime pension for working just 2 years) and it might help things if more of us got down there to supervise our employees from time to time. I agree that it’s really important to vote, obviously, but it’s a little unsettling that even the politicians I think of as being on the “right” side have gotten used to the level of deference that most Americans pay to elected officials. It’s time to stop that. And like Dorothy, we’ve always had the power to do that all along.