In an interview with Jake Tapper on Sunday’s CNN “State Of The Union” show, White House advisor Kellyanne Conway mentioned that she herself had experienced sexual assault. She’s referred to sexually compromising incidents before, but not in the context of the current allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Since I am, in fact, a woman –- of this I’m “100 percent sure” –- and have been discussing the Kavanaugh confirmation process in the forum graciously provided by Gov. Huckabee, I’d like to offer a few thoughts.
First, it might be a good idea to read an account of exactly what she said. You can read details at the link here.
The excellent point Conway was making in the interview was that the confirmation proceedings of Judge Kavanaugh should not be a referendum on the #MeToo movement, while also showing empathy to Dr. Ford and to all who have been sexually assaulted. She did a good job.
As far as I know, Conway has offered no follow-up details of the assault she referenced, though now she's sure to be pressed for them. (And, considering that she’s a conservative woman, I’m not so sure she’ll be believed, especially if the perpetrator was a Democrat, ha.) The term “sexual assault” in 2018 is so broad that it seems to cover everything from college-campus micro-aggressions to aggravated rape. I suppose that in this age of “zero tolerance,” some women would lump a lingering stare or a too-close encounter on the subway into the same category as forcible kissing, groping, peeping in a dressing room (which is a lot easier to do these days, but I digress) or even a violent sexual attack.
Someone I’m very close to who was date-raped at a party when she was quite young was highly skeptical of Dr. Ford’s story – not that a teenage boy who’d had a few beers tried clumsily to get fresh in an upstairs bedroom (and that’s likely all it would have been, not necessarily an attempt to rape her), but that the incident seemed to have scarred her so deeply for life. We both thought this fragile, childlike, psychologically injured woman was being shamefully exploited for political gain by horrible people who didn’t care if they further damaged her in the process.
This friend would no doubt react to Kellyanne’s revelation the same way I do: “Well, duh!” Who hasn’t had to deal with some degree of unwanted sexual attention at some time in her life? It’s wrong, and it shouldn’t happen, but it still does, like a lot of other wrong things in this world. Sometimes it’s a horror, a nightmare. Sometimes the scars it leaves are more than psychological. If laws were broken, we need to stand strong and get law enforcement involved –- right away –- and/or file civil charges if it happened in the workplace. But we don’t need the details of what happened to Kellyanne, and she doesn’t need to tell us now. She handled it the way she chose to at the time and has moved on.
It was surreal to me seeing the video of Sen. Jeff Flake being accosted by those crying women in the elevator. I was furious listening to the nonsense they were yelling at him and felt (once again) embarrassed to be female! This is what the #MeToo movement has become. Where did these women get the idea that if someone doesn’t believe Dr. Ford, it means the victims of sexual assault aren’t being listened to? This is ONE CASE. One set of circumstances, from 36 years ago. One source of uncorroborated allegations in a sickeningly politicized environment. One example of a man being presumed guilty by many in the hearing room and having to prove his innocence. These women seemed to be out of their minds, and they, just like Dr. Ford, were being used –- weaponized for political purposes. Poor, sad Jeff Flake looked as though somebody had just stomped on his puppy as he stood there and took it. His was the solemn face of a man who'd been guilted into thinking that voting for Kavanaugh was the same as giving every rapist in America a big thumbs-up.
I would tell these women that I do listen to victims of sexual assault. I listened to every word of testimony by Dr. Ford. I’m sorry, but I still don’t believe her story. She may believe it herself, but I don’t.
Finally, I’m going to stick my neck out and say something that will be considered controversial by some, but here goes: speaking hypothetically, if young Brett Kavanaugh, as a 17-year-old boy at a party with beer and no adult supervision, HAD clumsily overstepped his bounds and acted inappropriately with a girl at a party, I would be prepared to forgive him, consider the life he has led in the 36 years since, and let him go on to become a Supreme Court justice. (Incidentally, my standards for this would be the same whether he were a liberal or conservative nominee.) His credentials are stellar. Of course, on his part this would require testifying truthfully before the committee about what happened and sincerely apologizing to Dr. Ford for unknowingly causing such lasting harm to her.
But, again, that’s a hypothetical, because I don’t think it was Kavanaugh who did this, so he has nothing to apologize for. It’s he who is owed an apology by many, an apology that he will never get. And, given what we know, he deserves to be seated on the Supreme Court.