An unmistakable divide in our country grew wider and angrier Thursday, as Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh defended their respective honor in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The two sides feel like tragic cheering sections — both bitterly aware that there will be no winner in this spectacle, both baffled by the other side’s loyalties.
Over and over, since Ford’s allegations became public, I have been asked how and why anyone could possibly find her believable.
“Do women have a special gift of never lying?” one reader asked. “Do they have a special gene pool to always tell the truth?”
Of course not. But her story, before Thursday’s testimony and after, is credible. I think it’s fair for her skeptics to ask why, and I think it’s important for those who find her believable to answer in good faith.
Because she has nothing to gain.
Because she has everything to lose. Her career, her children, her reputation as an accomplished researcher — none will ever be the same. She and her family now live in hiding.
Because she agreed to testify, under oath, with the wrath and the weight of a bitterly divided public on her shoulders.
Because she’s taking exacting pains to keep partisan jabs out of the process, even as Kavanaugh takes pains to inject them.
Because she is requesting an FBI investigation.
Because she provided The Washington Post with notes from therapy sessions in 2012 and 2013, in which she described a sexual assault in high school by students from an elite boy’s school.
Because Kavanaugh, under oath, dodged and evaded questions about whether he’s the inspiration for “Bart O’Kavanaugh” in Mark Judge’s memoir about alcoholism, about labeling himself a “Renate Alumnius” in his high school yearbook, about parties he attended.
Because RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network) estimates 321,500 victims, age 12 or older, are raped or sexually assaulted each year in the United States.
Because RAINN also estimates only 310 of every 1,000 rapes are reported to police.
Because we know so many survivors.
Because we are so many survivors.
Because Donald Trump told Billy Bush, and then all of us who listened to the audio recording, “You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. … Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.”
Because people explained away his comments as boys-will-be-boys locker room talk, as simply the way some guys approach female bodies: theirs for the taking.
Because the #MeToo movement has reminded us, over and over, what we already knew: that too many female bodies have been, for far too long, to too many men, theirs for the taking.
At parties. At work. At school. At home.
Christine Blasey Ford doesn’t spring from a special gene pool, incapable of lying. But she also doesn’t spring out of nowhere, devoid of context.
Her story is believable because it’s so horribly, tragically common.