Had she been male, this would likely have ended badly. Instead, it leads a New York Times editorial as a watershed moment in female heroism.
Look at me when I’m talking to you! You’re telling me that my assault doesn’t matter. That what happened to me doesn’t matter!
These were the words of Maria Gallagher to Senator Jeff Flake. Whether this was a fortuitous meeting or she stalked him is unclear, but either way, she found him in a Senate elevator and opened fire.
Those anguished words came from Maria Gallagher, who, along with Ana Maria Archila, confronted Senator Jeff Flake after he announced on Friday morning that he would vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, as Mr. Flake stood in a Capitol Hill elevator that he clearly wished could transport him far, far away.
“I cannot imagine that for the next 50 years they will have to have someone in the Supreme Court who has been accused of violating a young girl,” raged Ms. Archila, who told the senator that she too had been sexually assaulted.
After voting “yes” on Brett Kavanaugh in the Judiciary Committee to bring his nomination to the floor, Flake insisted that now, there being a week hiatus between votes, the FBI supplement the background check. With limits to scope and time so that it wouldn’t alter the time line, but would still happen, maybe something of significance will be learned. This should be done, regardless of which side you’re on. It may not accomplish much, or satisfy anyone, but still.
Did the harangues by Gallagher and Archila have anything to do with Flake’s decision? Who knows, but it makes for a cool story of fierce women and the New York Times has now made it part of the myth whether factual or complete nonsense. The flip side is that if two guys did this to Senator Mazie Hirono, this would have been characterized less generously. But that’s the joy of identity politics, that it only works to the benefit of the favored.
The Times goes on to validate the implicit threat, that women will make the Republicans pay if they don’t succumb to their feelings. What it neglects to do is make an attempt to parse the logic of Gallagher’s attack.
Is the issue whether Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted Christine Blasey Ford, or whether not believing the woman by siding with Ford, regardless of the indisputable fact that her accusation was never subject to the crucible of criminal prosecution, is a rejection of every undetermined allegation of sexual assault by random women? This would appear to be the referendum question on believing women.
Assuming, arguendo, that Gallagher is a victim of a sexual assault, does her pain bear upon how this government should be run? It’s a problem. She’s not the only women in America. She’s not the only victim of sexual assault. She has no more authority to demand that the Senate take one course or another than any other woman. Or man, because men are citizens too. Or anyone else, if the binary isn’t to your taste.
But saying this is quite risky, as Gallagher’s fury is shared by many others, and they will lash out in rage should you question the connections of entirely unrelated things. How is it possible that what happened to them isn’t relevant to what happened to Ford? That they’re different people, different conduct, different everything, doesn’t matter. They’re women. That’s close enough.
A law student tried desperately to teach me how horrible I was in failing to connect the pain of women to believing Ford’s accusation. These are odd days when law students feel empowered to teach us oldsters, but since they’re certain they have a monopoly on woke wisdom, somebody has to school us.
Scott,* I’ve seen literally dozens of women literally weeping today and yesterday as a man credibly accused of multiple sexual assaults is “plowed through” a Supreme Court confirmation.
In response,** I countered:
Dozens? Well then, facts, reason, law kinda seem worthless when it’s all about how many women are crying. Why do we even waste money building courtrooms when we can just send everybody to prison?
Weeping women will invariably evoke a sense of chivalry in gentlemen of a certain age. We would seek to comfort them, perhaps pull out the nail, only to learn that they don’t want the nail removed, but for us to appreciate their wallowing in tears. We take no pleasure in their pain, but should we acquiesce to their whims to soothe their sadness?
There are serious issues at play here, but they are not dictated by the number of weeping women observed by a random law student or the irrational connections felt by Senate stalkers. Had this accusation been brought in the right forum at a time when something meaningful could be done about it, we wouldn’t be in this position now. Yet, we are because, for reasons that may well be understandable, Ford chose to come forward now.
Ford’s allegations are about Ford, not Maria Gallagher or the “literally” dozens of women weeping. Ford’s allegations are proven, to the extent proof is possible within the structure of the worst possible forum, not by the tears of others, or even Ford, but by evidence. This is not a question of how deep our empathy flows, but how persuasive the proof.
Jeff Flake’s demand, approved by Senate Republicans and Trump, may answer questions or not. It will certainly open a a new round of arguments and rationalizations, as any outcome will be unsatisfying to one side or the other. But it will, despite all its obvious flaws, be better than our government, its processes, be controlled by the number of weeping women.
John Adams said, “We are a nation of laws, not of men.” Are we now to be a nation of weeping women instead?
*No, I did not invite this young person to address me informally, or to address me at all for that matter. But such things are the concerns of dinosaurs. We are all peers in the eyes of youth.
**Don’t try this at home. As this law student was male, I only violated the basic tenets of social justice by challenging his ideology. Had the law student been female, this would have been violent speech, bordering on “reason rape,” and thousands of unduly passionate women and their curious allies would have taken to the streets of twitter with pitchforks and torches to destroy me.