Maybe like me, you didn’t know that what happened to her, to you, to all your friends, was assault. Maybe you thought that a torn shirt or ripped jeans was not a crime. Maybe you knew someone who had been raped and told yourself “It wasn’t like that, so it must not have been anything.”
Maybe like me, you internalized the narrative that boys will be boys, and if you go where the boys and beers are, you know what you’re in for. Maybe you learned to stay away from the narrow spaces of clubs and bars where men seemed to stand and grab at every woman who walked by. Maybe you gathered a tribe of sisters around you and pledged to keep each other safe. Maybe you told each other that it was the price to pay for a night out with drinks and dancing.
Maybe like me, you never wondered if the men had to do the same.
Maybe like me, one night you looked at your teammate broken on the beer soaked floor of the bar and decided you’d had enough. You socked the man who did that to her right in the eye. Maybe you felt great satisfaction for the two weeks he walked around campus with the black eye everyone knew you gave him.
Maybe it took you twenty years to realize that his black eye was poor payment for what he did to her.
Maybe like me, you still hate to walk into a bar alone. You hate it so much that even when your giant husband is with you, you make him go first so everyone in there knows you’re with him and that feels safer. Not safe. But safer.
Maybe like me, you haven’t counted the cost of being a young woman then. You didn’t realize how much you carried it with you until you heard people yelling “It was 35 years ago! You can’t hold that against him now!” and you knew that you have been holding it this whole time, the scar from that culture that patted drunk frat boys on the head and promised them the future.
Maybe like me, you’ve thought about that man you punched, and why you did it, and if you would have the courage to stand up and tell that story to the world if he was being considered for the highest court in the land.
And maybe like me, you’ve spent the last weeks really considering what Dr. Ford’s story means to her and to him–and to you–and how the world was then, and how it is now and what that should mean to her and to him–and to you–but the one thing you know for sure is that she isn’t lying.
Because like me, you saw it. You lived it. And that’s exactly how it happened.