One year after Kavanaugh, or rather one year under him

I couldn’t keep from going down this rabbit hole.

In spite of my clear intentions,

gravity brought me down,

and I thought about this time last September.

I thought about taking my one-year old niece to protest Kavanaugh’s appointment, watching her watch all of us as she raised her poster from her stroller.

Her lips parted around a lollipop, because her childhood was being interrupted by this statement of indifference to her right to safety.

She participated casually and respectfully, aware that this was a different atmosphere from other days.

Her eyes couldn’t widen out to see everything she wanted to, but she wore a button that said ask first.

For my Analytical Reasoning class, I am tasked with making infrequent social media posts involving everyday use of statistics,

and try as I planned to choose something neutral, I thought of only Kavanaugh.

Not really him, because truthfully, he bores me, in all the ways he is not a surprise to me.

I thought of all of the ways our public discourse reflects a tunnel

between white supremacy and rape culture.

There’s a principle called the Bradley effect that describes the disconnect between results of an election, and predictions based on self-reporting.

There’s a tendency to disaffiliate with your vote, altering analysis of expected outcomes.

One of the dynamics that surfaces is the relationship between the Bradley effect and white women voters.

We as a demographic generally struggle with self-representation, and one of the ways this presents in elections is that we misrepresent our actions and their consequences.

More white women voters keep their views anonymous, avoiding the public gaze all together.

Which is why moments where numbers are available are so powerful, because they show a repeating trend — that white women sit in the cross hairs of white supremacy and rape culture in a particular combination,

and our internalization of our attitudes is disconnected from our decision making

and perceptions of harm.

We can in one breath believe a disclosure and discredit the person making it, and in the next moment repost a meme that supports body autonomy.

We can compartmentalize in the shape of our dissonance, avoiding seeing contradiction in our behavior.

We can talk about sexual violence impersonally, not restricting our comments to political correctness.

I was holding this blog for the one-year anniversary of Dr. Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh’s testimonies, and before that day came a new sexual misconduct allegation surfaced.

#CancelKavanaugh became impeach Kavanaugh, because his appointment was confirmed last year.

We’re here again, debating whether or not new information moves us to reason differently.

Last year while the hearing was being live streamed, I was in the process of packing up my office and creating my transition binder.

My last week working at a rape crisis center overlapped with the hearing that would determine if Kavanaugh was confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice.

Crisis Services were overwhelmed by triggered

advocates and survivors,

organizers and educators,

community members trying to navigate

our public dialogue

and it’s known

and unknown

implications.

It’s hard to be confronted with how unmoved we are by each other’s suffering.

Especially when there are clearly identified offenders, and that offender is a white man.

We struggle to criminalize whiteness, no matter whose suffering must be minimized.

There’s a nurtured internalization that undergirds our politics unconsciously, and part of that internalization teaches us that harm is a moving concept, determined by its proximity to whiteness.

An appeal to family values is an appeal to replace acts of solidarity with acts of loyalty to whiteness, including loyalty to all of whiteness’ tactics to protect itself.

White women become both the litmus test and sparring partners for the support of white male figures, making our internalized rape culture the pawn in their established strategy of victim blaming and denial of wrong.

If even the most respectable white survivor isn’t respected or trusted by the majority of white women, then the strategy worked.

The minimization of harm is the outcome sought in order to exaggerate the undue burden of negative attention brought on my an abuse allegation.

What a hurdle to be affiliated with your actions, or to be expected to face any consequences for them.

“How unjust”, whiteness teaches us to chant, but only in proximity to itself.

If we are white before anything else, how could our goodness be up for debate?

How could someone good also be violent?

How could someone trusted by white women also be violent toward them?

That’s the dissonance polished, and its root isn’t intellectual.

The dissonance has a tender origin, and it stems from our own family lives.

Families marred by internalized white supremacy and internalized rape culture, amidst experiences and responses of harm that express and commit us to those beliefs.

Our own coping lies in those origin stories, because survival is functional, and function must be compatible with the environments we are trying to survive.

We are seeing a continued uptick of sexual violence as a political battle ground, and it is not an obviously staged fight.

Most of us have learned that secrets are important to tolerating the insufficiencies in our support systems. Everything from pretending a comment wasn’t hurtful, to a topic isn’t personal to us, to an action we took to avoid sharing our vulnerability with another person.

The need to be insulated from a violent discourse is proceeded by a violent relational matrix.

What is rampant becomes normal, and what’s normal feels true. True, or inevitable.

Harm is condensed to our sensitivity to it, and actions we took to invite it or fail to heal.

There is no space to express your woundedness, and your voiced experience isn’t welcomed.

I pause here, because I feel deep compassion for these childhood remnants that are more tender, and more shared than we will ever know or be ready to humanize.

And I don’t pause here, because I believe we have to call out distortions in our rationales, and increase our awareness of what we have internalized.

There can be no pardon for the cultural and historical violence we are watching balloon and take deeper root in our psyches and self-opinions.

There can be no unchallenged assumptions.

The framework isn’t around lying, but perception of harm.

It is not significant whether or not Brett Kavanaugh lied in his testimony. What is significant is why that knowledge didn’t change our perceptions of him.

We have been coached to define harm narrowly so that our initial response to disclosures is skepticism.

More than disbelief, we are meant to debate whether or not community support will follow.

The question isn’t — do you believe me. Or, is this true?

The question is — does this information move you to respond? And if so, how?

That was the question last September, and it remains the question for us now.

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Amanda Lindamood

Writer. Thinker. Facilitator. Advocate. Invested in accountability for power based violence, creative initiatives, and meaningful, nuanced dialoguing.