Blasey, a remarkably brave woman who agreed to be grilled in front of the entire nation about her greatest trauma ― an attempted rape she says was perpetrated by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh when they were both in high school ― wished that she could be more helpful.
…Over the course of those four hours, Blasey didn’t yell. She didn’t betray an ounce of rage, even though she had every right to be very, very, very angry. She told the Senate Judiciary Committee that her decision to come forward publicly meant that her “greatest fears have been realized.”
And yet she did not interrupt anyone during the hearing. She laughed at Grassley’s bad jokes about coffee. She was kind and respectful to the senators who questioned her.
That’s because Blasey, a longtime academic and human woman on Earth, knows what it costs women to deviate from being pleasant and cooperative. If you are a woman who hopes to be taken seriously in a world where women are still fighting to be taken seriously, to be considered reliable narrators of their own traumas, you have to modulate your behavior to accommodate those in power ― in this case, and in most cases, white men in power.
…For too many of the thousands of American women watching today’s hearing, this contrast felt uncomfortably familiar. To see this dynamic ― her contained politeness, his blazing rage ― play out on the national stage, when the stakes are so high, was nothing short of excruciatingly painful.
Women have spent millennia being polite, even in the face of overwhelming pain and trauma. So many women have spent their lives trying to figure out the right way to behave in order to be taken seriously. The right way to be forceful without being disliked. The right way to protect themselves in a world that often shows how little they are valued.
…Expecting at least the performance of kindness between fellow citizens seems like a no-brainer. But when only one gender is expected to act accordingly, when men are bound by no such conventions and face no consequences for violating norms, women’s politeness is essentially weaponized against them.
I would add that it’s not just men in power that need to be deferring to. Most men, powerful or not, need to be treated like they are the ones in a position of power or they lose their shit in self-absorbed and petulant displays of anger, displays of anger that they near universally feel is behavior that is out of bounds and unreasonably aggressive when it comes from the opposite sex.
No, not all men but let’s be honest, the vast majority of them.