As with all things I honor that you have a take. On this we don’t quite agree, and I might just respectfully add why: more than forty years ago I was repeatedly raped by a senior officer. I buried that in my brain as a way to cope for most of my adult life, not without deep cost, horrific nightmares and years of PTSD. Like Ms. Ford I couldn’t possibly tell you where the man’s office was. I couldn’t tell you what days of the week. But I most assuredly know who it was. And all the lurid awful details. While I understand that most men will never ever have this experience to be able to give them reference, it is one of the awful facts of life of those of us -especially of a Certain Age- that at that point (1974) I had absolutely no power. Had I reported the man I know precisely what he would have done. He was a psychiatrist I was assigned o see for counseling for having been groped on a gurney by another senior officer as I was waiting in a hallway for surgery. He was a predator, with a pretty wife and two kids at the time. All he had to do was pen that I wasn’t fit for duty, that I was a danger to my unit, and any other comment he wished, and I’d have been booted out unceremoniously with a Dishonorable Discharge. Rinse. Wash. Repeat.
My story is one of millions. While I understand some of your points, I only point out here the validity of Ms. Ford’s experience because it so closely mirrors my own, and that of so many other rape survivors who shut our mouths, bit down on the bitter nails of our pain and kept right on soldiering along. To an extent, your piece denies the reality of our experience, driven in part by the times, driven in part by power structures. While I hear what you’re saying, I respectfully ask that you also take into account that you, as a man, likely never had such a thing happen to you. And that is part of the problem. It is very hard to feel empathy, understand the cost, the pathos and the price we have paid as women who were raped just to survive and move on.
I don’t believe it’s your intention to deny Ms. Ford’s reality. However if I were in her heels and had to make the same presentation in front of a largely adversarial Congress, having weathered death threats, a mass of media on my lawn and the dissolution of my privacy for the sake of honesty, I’d have a damned hard time too. You forget some details. But you don’t forget the pain or the place or the price you paid to be someone else’s sport. Someone could likely tear my testimony apart as well. But that doesn’t change the fact that I know the bastard who did it.
These are deeply complex and very emotional issues, Tom. Right and wrong aren’t easy to line out here. But when it comes to sexual assault, especially for those of us who buried that business for years just to survive the times, I know precisely what Ms. Ford’s feeling in this sense only - I’ve been there. I know all too well. Unless you’re a woman and have been raped, it’s very hard to understand. Far, far too many of us do. And in all honesty, it’s not just a partisan issue either. There are plenty of Democrats, CEOs, senior managers and cretins of all sorts who do this. My entire life they have tried with me, including the president of what was then Martin Marietta Aerospace. When I said no I lost my job.
I respect what you have to say and I learn from it. It’s not my intention to try to change your mind. I am simply adding a viewpoint, for what it’s worth.