OPINION: From Kavanaugh to Squamish

Community journalists aim to write hyper-local columns and stories — to offer readers something they can’t get from outside media outlets.

At The Chief, that means writing only about things that are happening in or relate to Squamish. Thus, the U.S. Supreme Court confirmation hearings for judge Brett Kavanaugh seem way outside of that localized goal.

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And yet, for many, the hearings are surprisingly impactful regardless of where they live.

My blood ran cold listening to professor Christine Blasey Ford’s recalling Kavanaugh’s alleged sexual assault at a drunken high school house party.

A similar incident from when I was a teen more than three decades ago suddenly came flooding back.

I had accompanied a girlfriend to a house party — I was shy and awkward on a leather couch, my friend off somewhere with her boyfriend.

Older boys were filling and re-filling my red plastic cup.

I remember feeling suddenly drunk, then a dark bedroom, someone on top of me, boys laughing around me and then waking up sick and unsure of what had happened.

I remember how disoriented I felt walking the several miles home as the sun came up. I was wearing my favourite yellow flats. I remember that.

At school on Monday, a female classmate handed me my underwear —  left behind in a bed at the party, apparently.

I remember my face burning with shame then, and when a group of boys stared and laughed as I flipped through records in our town’s department store.

I went to the doctor, terrified that I might have “had sex” and be pregnant. I wasn’t. The doctor gave me a talking to about being more careful next time.

Here’s the crazy thing — until last week, I had told no one — not even my husband — and frankly had not thought about that night since I graduated and moved away. Like a few other less extreme, but disturbing incidents in those years, I filed it away as a coming-of-age experience when I behaved in a way that I shouldn’t have.

Hopefully, that sounds crazy to modern young women, but through messaging with other former classmates, it is clear it was an unbelievably common experience — and reaction — in those days.

Given our pop culture and movies of the time, [Sixteen Candles for example] that portrayed drunken rape as a good ol’ time, it isn’t that surprising this kind of thing happened to so many of us.

The lesson? Talk to your daughters and sons about rape culture and what is and isn’t OK, even if they have been drinking. Say the hard stuff. Ask the hard questions.

Kids never tell their parents everything. I had the most open parents in the world and it never even crossed my mind to tell them.

Most men in my life, then and now, are gentle, loving people who make the world a better place. And everyone should be presumed innocent until proven guilty. But the Kavanaugh saga poses a perfect opportunity to have difficult conversations with each other and our kids  —  even here in Squamish.

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