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Christine Blasey Ford, speaking for us all

I can’t look away – have been live-streaming the human drama emanating from Washington this morning, as Christine Blasey Ford, who looks exactly like a nice Republican woman – almost all Republican women, as well as right-wing female TV personalities, seem to have long blonde hair – tells the world about a sexual assault by Brett Kavanaugh when she was 15. As someone who has been more or less raped, as have I’m sure most of my women friends, it’s heartrending and nauseating. In my day, being jumped, being forced into sex acts against your will, was simply part of growing up while female. It didn’t occur to me to report my experience; I was drunk and did not say no, because I was more or less incapacitated. As he well knew. But the whole thing has stayed front and centre in my memory, though it happened almost 40 years ago, in 1979.

I will never say a categorical “Believe survivors,” as does my radical daughter. First, I dislike the term survivors, because it’s used for people who have lived through the Holocaust, and as my own experience testifies, though the memory is horrible, it in no conceivable way resembles genocide. And also, women are not automatically saints. Some do tell lies; a few have used an untrue accusation of sexual assault to discredit a man. We saw this happen in my alma mater, the UBC department of Creative Writing; what happened to its head Steven Galloway is a shocking example of groupthink and condemnation without trial or proof.

But mostly, there’s no question that the vast, vast majority of accusations of sexual assault are true.

The investigation continues. I just made cucumber and yogurt soup while listening, using up two whole cucumbers! Thanks for the recipe, Ruth.

Apart from that, the good news is that my cold has nearly gone in only a week, so my good health karma remains. It’s too bad the timing was so poor, but that’s life. I spent most of Monday and Tuesday in bed working on the manuscript, which is my idea of heaven; got it printed and went through it yesterday, and now have more work to do.

I also finished Atul Gawande’s “Being Mortal,” and would like to say this: if there is an old or ill person in your life, or if you think one day you will be old or ill, read this book. It’s a powerful indictment of how we treat the frail and elderly and very sick, how we’ve allowed the medical establishment to take over their care, which means all the focus is on safety and not on quality of life. It’s terrifying to be forced to realize how vulnerable we all are, living as we do as if invincible, when at any moment, the flying fickle finger of fate might point at us. As it has to some of my friends, or their husbands, this last while. And everything changes.

We face this now, my brother and I, because my aunt has done another of her miraculous 180 turns – from seeming near death, she’s now much better, more coherent, eating well, apparently, so now we are looking for a longterm care facility in Ottawa. A decent affordable place that feels welcoming and homey with kind staff – even better, kind staff who are properly paid – does such a thing exist? Unfortunately, she could have been in such a place earlier – Unitarian House – but they only take the ambulatory elderly, and though her mind is again sharp, she is far from ambulatory at the moment.

Once again, as I did with my mother seven years ago, I have lists and phone numbers by my computer. My brother will go to see a few places, she gets put on a list, and we’ll see where she’s assigned a bed. If worst comes to worst, she can stay where she is, but the home is expensive and she’s isolated there. It’s a disgrace, how little is available, and how poor what’s available is. What will happen in only a few years, as we boomers hit old age and debility?

Before going to Montreal, I also read some of “The Overstory,” a brilliant and extraordinary novel by Richard Powers about trees, their effect on human life, a few intertwined lives especially. (It was a library book and I didn’t get through it before having to return it – it’s a big book.) It was just put on the short list for the Man Booker prize. I think I will go out in the yard now and hug some trees – healing, after the morning listening to a woman spill out her heart and a female prosecutor try to portray her as a neurotic liar.



2 Responses to “Christine Blasey Ford, speaking for us all”

  1. Anonymous says:

    There are four European countries which have legalized either euthanasia, assisted suicide, or both; the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Belgium and Switzerland. Euthanasia is when a doctor intentionally ends the life of a patient, and assisted suicide is where the doctor prescribes lethal drugs for the patient to take under their own steam.

    This is the route I'll be taking, Beth. I watched my mother endure a lingering death and I vowed not to go down that road. I want to end it quick.


  2. beth says:

    Juliet, let's hope you have a very long way to go before having to make this kind of decision! One of the things Gawande writes about is the unrealistically positive outcomes both doctors and patients imagine – and yet, occasionally, miracles do happen. It's all difficult and complicated. So let's enjoy every moment while we can. I'll go to your blog now and enjoy Paris vicariously with you.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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