It’s been a week – so much so that I wrote this a week ago and postponed publishing it until now because I was *stressed.*
I’ve been busy crying over building a scale model of an Iron Age roundhouse, I got my first piece of assessment back (I got a 72 on my presentation about Roman Graffiti in my Early Medieval Sexualities course!), and I voted via absentee for the mid-term elections.
I spent the last weekend in the Lake District with the EUMC. We stayed in the Langdale Valley and the weather was great until it wasn’t. On Saturday, Gregor drove Ellie, Alven, and I to Hardknott the Roman fort built onto the side of a hill.
The fort was built between 183-203 CE and it’s one of the best preserved forts I’ve ever seen. It still had the stone foundations of the granary, Principia, and commanding officers house as well as a near complete surrounding curtain wall. Hardknott even had a bath complex and surviving parade/practice ground! During a wall walk I discovered the still functioning Roman drainage system that would have drawn water away from the center (and most important part) of the fort. After eating lunch in the granary, Ellie, Alven, and I walked the 10 miles back to the campsite following the path of the old Roman highway system built to connect Hardknott to the other forts in the area including the one in Ambleside. The road was also used in the medieval period as there’s a record from 1182 of a bunch of monks in an ox cart traveling the road.
That evening we returned once more to the infamous Old Dungeon Ghyll where they have Old Peculiar on tap.
On Sunday, I had reading to do for class and Gregor had to work on his dissertation proposal so he drove myself, Ellie, and Alven to Ambleside. The weather wasn’t super great either so I didn’t feel too guilty about not spending the day in the hills. I had just finished a paper on early medieval monasticism when I glanced at the television and saw ‘Breaking: Kavanaugh confirmed for US Supreme Court’ running along the bottom ticker.
I stopped, put my pen down and quickly left for the bathroom where I spent the next ten or so minutes crying in frustration and then trying to recompose myself in the mirror so I could return to my work. And, I’m not telling you this to extract your pity. I’m telling you this so you understand.
As children, we are taught not to throw a fit in public. As adults, we can shout and yell until our face turns red.
As children, we are taught to answer questions asked of us eloquently and with respect. As adults, we can respond with a snarky, ‘Have you?’
As children, we are taught we have to work hard and be qualified for our jobs. As adults, we expect to be automatically given what we want.
As children, we are taught to believe in Santa Claus and are held accountable for our actions or else we’ll get coal for Christmas. As adults, we refute the under oath testimony of women and refuse to hold people accountable for their actions.
Why is it that we hold children more accountable for their actions then adults?
I watched the hearings, I followed the joke of an FBI investigation, and I once again had to explain to my friends why it’s still currently 1917 within the borders of the United States of America.
The confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh scares me.
It scares me because it showed me, once again, that my country does not care about women, does not believe women, and will not take the required steps to protect the civil liberties and rights of women.
It scared me because it showed me, once again, that my country does not care about, believe in, or will protect me, my mother, my sister, my aunts, my grandmothers, my cousins, or my friends.
I shouldn’t have to tell you these things to make you believe me, but just in case you want to see my credentials to speak on this subject: I have been groped in nightclubs. I have had explicit things shouted at me on the street. I have had been called ‘a bitch’ and a hell of lot worse. I have been stalked. I have had multiple men become angry when I told them they were making me uncomfortable. My friends have those same stories and more.
Male readers, if that was uncomfortable for you to read then you can only imagine how I felt.
And, before you ask why I didn’t stop it or prevent it let me tell you this: yes, I have a second degree black belt and ten years of martial arts experience. Yes, I went to the university and I went to the police – but that’s not the point. Sexual harassment and assault do not happen when you are expecting it and are often in places you know and committed by people you know. It’s not the stranger in the dark alley that so many people want us to believe it is. It’s sort of like how this post started out as a gentle recount of my travels to a Roman fort and then changed abruptly…
Also, how about we stop blaming women for things that happen to them and start holding the people who actually did it accountable, m’kay? How about instead of a reactionary culture we adopt a preventative one?
This past week has made those feelings of helplessness and fear resurface and as someone who really hates feeling helpless – it was sickening. I watched as a man screamed and yelled his way onto the Supreme Court like it was something that was owed to him. I watched the testimony of Dr Christine Blasey Ford as she came forward to a panel of people and recounted a horrible event in her life. An event that, I might add, she would not lie about. Why would she? Why cause a fuss out of nothing? Dr Ford has been forced to move out of her home due to death threats. Her life has been upended because she spoke out. With everything to lose (and as we saw little to gain) why come forward with something that isn’t true? Why go to the trouble to get all the way to Washington DC for false allegations?
And when Kavanaugh was confirmed, that flood of emotions, frustration, and helplessness erupted and caused me to cry for ten minutes half way across the world in a restroom in Ambleside.
At this point, it’s beyond planks in a political platform for me. I’ve already cast my ballot for people I know will care about me, believe me, and fight to protect my rights.
Things must change.
Women cannot be treated as second class citizens.
Their testimony must not be treated as ‘a hoax.’
I urge you this November, in just 19 days, to think about the women in your own life and do the same.
Thanks for coming to my TED Talk.