She brought the science yesterday. She was authoritative, she was firm. But she did not drop the science with a fist in the air, accompanied by fire and brimstone, even though she would have certainly been entitled to it, entitled to whatever manifestation of rage and disappointment that best suited her temperament and personality. Instead, though, she remained calm. Emotional, certainly. But never too emotional. Never too overcome. Never too angry, never too defiant, never too smart, as even the scientific explanation of her trauma had to be presented in a way so as to safeguard against accusations of cockiness, lest her intelligence, her research, her WORK, be used against her. All of it could have been used against her. The privilege of being too angry and too defiant is rarely extended to a woman. Which is why she had to be “perfect”, because “perfection”, it seems, is only expected of those who are treated imperfectly.
Dr Christine Blasey Ford was indeed “perfect”. And she STILL didn’t get the last word. Also? That perfection probably won’t be appreciated for its intent. Because despite pretending to believe her, it doesn’t seem like it will matter to them. If your perfection still doesn’t make a difference, imagine how f-cking discouraging that is for the victims who aren’t “perfect”?
My ma isn’t perfect. She was born poor, to parents who had gambled away the family’s future. She had to quit school after tenth grade. She worked in bars and at underground gangster clubs. She was sold to a high-ranking town official as a teenager to be his live-in lover. When she protested she was threatened. Which is why living with him, because he was “nice” to her, felt like a blessing. For a long time she thought of him as a “kind” benefactor. She was told that she was lucky to have him. By the time she realised that the situation wasn’t really to her advantage, she was told that she was ungrateful for not appreciating the opportunity. Who would have ever believed it if she said she never wanted it? The best she could do was to claw her way through life and slap aside any obstacle to ensure her daughter wouldn’t find herself in the same position.
There were a lot of tears shed yesterday, a lot frustration shared – in our communities and workplaces, online, among friends and family. What made me most sad is that so many, too many, who were moved by Dr Ford’s testimony could also relate to it. Because it was their own testimony as well.
Thanks to those of you out there, like Dr Ford, who are doing the big work, pushing for the change that needs to happen. As for the “small” work, thanks to those of you out there who are listening and empathising and caring and lessening the burden of imperfect. You are teaching me – even though, godammit, it certainly isn’t your responsibility to be teaching me and others who would be taught. But I know you do it because an ally is first a student. I would like to and am trying to learn.
Yours in gossip,