His yearbook from high school is horrifying. There were derogatory jokes about women throughout the pages. Everyone knew, but the boys were rich, and they were going to top colleges, so it was okay. I didn’t know there were yearbooks like that.
I knew that in those rich-kid private schools the teachers decide who goes to which school. I know that, for example, Yale takes a certain number of kids from Choate, and Choate tells Yale which kids will be the best fit. There is a symbiotic relationship. Choate can say they always get kids into Yale. And Yale knows they’ll get the best kids for Yale without having to do much searching.
What I didn’t know was that the most coveted clerkships work the same way. Judge Kavanaugh always takes law students from Yale. The symbiotic relationship there is that Yale can say their students always get great clerkships, and in exchange Yale law professor Amy Chua makes sure Kavanaugh always has a stream of female law school students who look like models. Really. Click that link.
Kavanaugh fed law clerks to Judge Alex Kozinski. That’s part of what made Kavanaugh such a great place to start a law career. Kozinski was famous. For power. But also for harassment. Chua and her husband, Jed Rubenfeld, also a Yale law professor and also already under investigation, knew about the harassment. It was common knowledge among Yale faculty.
People like to hire people who are like them. We have so much research that supports that. The only way to get around that is to be way, way better than everyone else (black men often do this) or to be really hot. Middle-aged men do not have access to young, hot women except when they pay for it, or it’s their daughter’s friends. But if the men have power they can have access to those women at work.
I knew there were not a lot of female staff in the Senate. But I did not realize that every time there was a female issue, the male Senators sent a woman to deal with it. The all-male Republican judiciary committee does not want to have to question Kavanaugh’s accusers. They think the optics are bad. So they want a female staff member to do it. But the female staff are saying no.They say it’s part of a Senator’s job to know how to work with women. The female staff are sick of doing it for the male Senators.
I have done this job for men my whole career. I have stepped in to tell my boss that there are women in the company not making as much as their male counterparts and we have to fix it. I have told male leadership that we have a client who keeps harassing the women in the company. I thought it was my job to take care of lower-level women because I knew leadership would not. I did not even know I was doing that. I never expected the men to look out for the women.
I’m not doing that anymore — I will ask the men why they are not making sure themselves. I will show them how to do it. It’s a mentality. To know what to look out for. It is not the job of women like me. It’s the job of all of senior management.
I didn’t know that women so bright and successful as Christine Blasey Ford got derailed for years after sexual assault. I got derailed for years from sexual assault. But I thought it was because I was weak. I thought I was making too big a deal out of it. I am shocked that the time in her life when she finally told her husband, in couples counseling, is similar to the time in my life I finally told people about my experience.
I was shocked that Debbie Ramirez was so ashamed of having been forced to touch Kavanaugh’s penis that she never talked about it with anyone. I am shocked because I was forced to touch someone’s penis. But, like Ramirez, I wasn’t sure how to talk about it. I’m still not. I mean, I was there with a penis in front of me. And I said no, get away from me, gross. But I still touched it. I am shocked that it’s hard for Ramirez to put a coherent story together. I thought not having a coherent story meant maybe what I thought happened didn’t happen.
But now I understand that not having the words to describe it is part of the problem. We have no word in the English language for being so stressed and so full of shame that you start trying so hard to block it out the minute you get away. Of course we have no word for that. Because it’s only women feeling a loss of power who need that word.
I’m so angry. I find myself checking the news every hour. I lived through Anita Hill’s testimony. Watching the Senate make fun of her was heartbreaking. I was young — I didn’t realize at the time how personally I took that. But I’m sure that’s why I have assumed, through my whole adult life, that I need to keep things to myself and try to help other women by navigating around men instead of trying to work with them.
I knew that people protest things all the time in Washington DC. But I would not have known what to chant if I were staging a protest. I can’t think of a snappy chant to encapsulate all those things I want to say. But I learned so much from the women who are protesting this week at the Capitol. They know what to say. And they are saying it all with men as well. Men, too, are in front of their Senators’ offices, chanting, “We believe Anita Hill! We believe Christine Ford!”
I want to do that. I want to be in this new wave of women who demand that Yale stop funneling women to lecherous men. I want to stand with women who risk their lives to testify in our male-privileged Senate. But most of all I want to say: I believe women.
If I keep saying that, I will believe myself, as well.