The events yesterday at the Senate Judiciary Committee left many around the country feeling raw. Perhaps it is good that we can still be shocked, but shock is a state that does not lend itself to immediate mobilization, so we thought we would leave this space open today for a discussion of what our readers are thinking and feeling and what we each plan to do as a result of yesterday’s cultural spectacle.
Kavanaugh’s farcical confirmation hearing feels like the cusp of a historic turning point in this country’s political culture. Either we will acknowledge what happened and, as a country, reject it outright—or we will not, and from that, we will derive our collective future. Whether or not Kavanaugh is guilty of sexual assault, he revealed himself to be the worst kind of entitled adolescent: immature, petulant, volatile, disrespectful, entirely self-centered, and prone to try to take by awkward force the thing he wants even when it can only legitimately be freely given in trust. The patriarchy, challenged yesterday in its attempt to bully a clearly unqualified candidate onto our Supreme Court, was not a pretty sight as it collectively threw an emotionally over-the-top fit. Kavanaugh was by turns rude, weepy, openly belligerent, and using his outside voice. One would imagine this would make it harder for his defenders to support him for a position that would seem to require the exact opposite, but a number followed his behavioral lead.
Whatever happens to this nomination, yesterday must live in our collective hippocampus as political resolve. If we, as a sector, seek to avoid a United States of Gilead, we have to learn to move beyond a trauma response. Trauma is an incomplete event surrounding a violation of boundaries. One way to complete the event, to move beyond it to healing, is to define the appropriate boundaries. There is much work for us here as a sector as we help ourselves and the country move forward into a more equitable model of democracy.
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“The level of norepinephrine and epinephrine in the brain…that neurotransmitter encodes memories into the hippocampus, so that trauma-related experience is locked there, so other memories just drift.” This is how Dr. Christine Blasey Ford described why she was so certain of her memories of the sexual assault she claims occurred at Brett Kavanaugh’s hands. That memory drove her to action on behalf of all of us, so let’s take a page from her book and return the favor.
Please feel free to weigh in here.