If you are a man and you are questioning Dr. Ford and her accusations against Kavanaugh, just stop. Stop. Do not pass go, do not collect $200.
I don’t care how good a person you are. I don’t care if you consider yourself a feminist. I don’t care how many women will say how amazing and wonderful you are. I don’t care that you have a mother, or wife, or daughter, or sister who will vouch for you. None of that matters.
You have not lived the experience of being a woman in this society. You can not, in any way, understand the realities women face, especially when it comes to sexual harassment and assault. You are looking through a window at this, possibly a very smudged, unclear window. You are not actually there. You can’t be.
When women tell you that something is harassment or sexism, your role is to listen. To hear what they are saying. To consider it and try to place it into the context of their lived experience. Not your lived experience, as that is a very different thing.
Your job is not…
- to argue with them that what they are saying is not harassment or sexism
- to explain to them how it is not a big deal
- to try and connect with them about some challenge you have faced that seems similar
- to share how other women have had that happen and not said it was harassment or sexism
If you are questioning Dr. Ford and the accusations she is making in any way it is time to take a step back, a deep breath, and a close look in the mirror. Time to question yourself as to why you feel this way. Time to ask yourself what makes you think you know better than she what happened.
(It is also worth noting that all of the above should be said about white people questioning people of color when they say they have faced harassment or racism. We white folks can not know their lived experiences any more than men can know women’s. So we should shut up and listen and look at ourselves in the same way here. And this deserves far more than an aside at the end. I apologize for that.)