Christine Blasey Ford’s memoir isn’t about Brett Kavanaugh, but it still suggests a #MeToo reckoning

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Christine Blasey Ford’s memoir isn’t about Brett Kavanaugh, but it still suggests a #MeToo reckoning

On Ed

Jackie Calmes

April 4, 2024

Retaliation seems to be all the rage on the right these days, given Donald Trump’s chilling vow that it will be the driving force for his second term if he wins one. So Republicans might have thought that Christine Blasey Ford would seek revenge in her new memoir against Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh and others, including Trump, who publicly accused her in 2018 of Kavanaugh sexually assaulting her when they were teenagers. in the suburbs of Washington.

Ford, however, is not vindictive. On the first page of One Way Back, the psychology professor and researcher writes: If you had asked me a few years ago why I wanted to write a book, I would have said that I wanted to destroy the people behind the political machine that ruined me. to live. It was clear that I wasn’t ready to tell this story. You can’t write a book based on revenge.

In fact, she doesn’t dwell on Kavanaugh at all, beyond the inevitable recounting of her accusations, his denials and the death threats, doubts and search for an elusive normality that followed for her. She never mentions Kavanaugh’s right-wing record on the court: his vote for the Dobbs decision, which overturned half a century of nationwide abortion rights (prompting Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine to accuse him of misleading her). , or his support for pro-gun and anti-environmental statements and others he helped deliver as part of Trump’s inflated conservative supermajority.

No, this isn’t about settling scores with Kavanaugh. And yet, whether Ford intended it or not, I came away from reading her book with the heightened sense that as the father of young daughters he was facing a reckoning of sorts, a very personal one. I will explain.

Ford ultimately decided to write One Way Back to respond to and thank the more than 100,000 supporters and survivors of sexual violence from all 50 states and 42 countries, whose letters fill bins, boxes and binders, and cover the round table, in what used to be her house. dining room. And she tries to find an answer for them and for herself as to why society still fails to confront the fact that sexual violence remains so widespread, with the stigma borne by the victims rather than by the perpetrators.

She also writes for the younger generations of women who are most vulnerable to that threat, and for the young boys, including my two sons, who have so much power and potential to undo the injustice.

Clearly, her own experiences inevitably help shape how she raises her boys. I can’t imagine they would ever make a girl feel unsafe, she writes, and certainly not as Kavanaugh allegedly did when, drunk at 17, he sexually assaulted 15-year-old Ford and stifled her screams until she feared she would suffocate.

Ford empathizes with parents of daughters, who experience the almost universal fear that parents of young girls have as their children grow up, enter the world on their own, and confront the danger inherent in being a young woman. She added


: I can’t imagine what that’s like.

I warned my two daughters, now adults, about that danger when they were in their late teens. I did this because of my own experiences as a young woman, including being sexually assaulted by the publisher during one of my first jobs in journalism, and because of the experiences of some friends. I then wondered: why didn’t anyone warn us? I told my daughters that if they encountered sexual aggression, they should not blame themselves and come to me immediately, regardless of the circumstances.

Which brings me to Kavanaugh’s comeuppance.

I believe, not least because I wrote a book about his rise and confirmation to the Supreme Court, that he attacked Ford in high school, as well as Debbie Ramirez and a second woman at Yale College. I’ve spoken often with Ford and Ramirez, with their classmates, and with people they had all confided in for years before they went public with their accusations after Trump picked Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court.

In mid-2018, victims of the #MeToo movement included titans of business, entertainment, sports and media, with the title men who never deigned to think they would be held accountable for their misconduct. But with Kavanaugh’s nomination, the movement effectively foundered in Washington, as the forces of the patriarchal Republican Party, of serial attacker Trump and then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, mobilized to protect one of their own. Kavanaugh was confirmed by the narrowest margin for justice since the 19th century.

His then-young daughters were often front and center during his confirmation hearing; for me and many others they appeared to be props, along with his wife and a bevy of girlfriends, meant to testify to Kavanaugh’s alleged respect for women.

Both now


daughters are past the age that Ford was at the time of her alleged encounter with Kavanaugh, and I give him enough credit as a father to think that he has certainly felt what Ford describes, the almost universal fear possessed by parents of young girls. And for him it must be even worse. Ford doesn’t say this, not explicitly, but Kavanaugh did in high school and college


the danger parents fear.

And he knows it.

Again, to quote Ford, I can’t imagine what that’s like. But I guess it’s some kind of punishment. Retaliation even.



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