“I grew up believing that being female was weak. That my tears…meant I was weak, and that I should be able to take it…And so, when I was assaulted and when I was raped, I didn’t tell because I thought it was my fault for my weakness, or because I went out, or because maybe I wore something, or maybe I had something to drink. Somehow, it was going to be my fault…I think that it’s time that we stopped thinking that taking it is somehow a positive thing. I think that it’s time we stopped buying the idea that, if we speak up, we’re bitches or pushy broads or battle axes or any of those pejorative comments that people use to describe strong women.”
Those were the words of a woman, one of many, who spoke at a vigil held in Cal Anderson Park Wednesday night to protest the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh and respond to the allegation that he sexually assaulted Christine Blasey Ford and others.
“Our tears might look like weakness on one level but they are part of our strength, because being strong doesn’t mean I don’t feel sad,” the woman continued. “There are lots of other people who have been oppressed for a very long time and I’ve done my best to try to use whatever privilege my white skin gives me to stand up and speak for other people and be a decent ally. Today I’m here for myself as well, and I hope that we all will put value on ourselves as well and stand up and, if anyone’s getting treated like that, don’t take it.”
The vigil was organized by Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawaii, NARAL Pro-choice Washington and Seattle Indivisible. It began with an introduction from organizers Tiffany Hankin, executive director of NARAL, and Hana Hartman, regional field organizer for Planned Parenthood.
“This is not just a moment about the Supreme Court nominee. This is about the culture that we live in,” Hankins said.
“We gathered here today to show our support for each other, and for this very difficult moment that we’re all in, as well as support survivors who have come forward and put a lot on the line and have blown up their lives because they had the courage to speak out.”
What began as a chilly gathering with thick sweaters and gloves quickly became heavy and frank as people stepped forward to take the microphone and talk about their past experiences of rape and sexual assault.
“I was raped a long time ago and I just didn’t tell anybody about it. I remember every minute. I was in the hospital and the police had brought me there and I don’t remember anything between those two times. But, the thing is, is that I’m not ashamed of it. It wasn’t my fault. I could have been a piece of wood with a hole in it to this guy,” one woman said. “It’s time to stop being ashamed. It’s not your fault if you got attacked, it’s the fault of the attacker.”
“I was so shocked the way our president mocked Christine Blasey Ford for a few gaps in memory,” another said. “I can tell you, something happened to me very, very similar to what happened to Christine Blasey Ford, and the person who did it to me was my boss. The way [Ford] told that story, that is exactly how your memory is. There are details that are seared in your mind, but I couldn’t tell you the date. I couldn’t tell you the color of his shirt, but I will tell you one thing. Particularly when you know the perpetrator, there is no way in hell that you’re going to forget who did it to you.”
After pressure and protest, Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation was delayed and an investigation was opened to look into Dr. Blasey Ford’s allegations. The findings will not be made public by the judicial committee until after the confirmation process has ended.
There will also be a march on Thursday at 5 PM at Westlake Park to protest Kavanaugh’s nomination.
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