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Why “that woman” accusing Brett Kavanaugh will never get a fair hearing

By Linda Grist Cunningham, editor and proprietor

Linda Grist Cunningham is editor and proprietor of Key West Island News and KeyWestWatch Media LLC. She and her husband, a park ranger at Fort Zach, live in Key West with their Cat 5s.

09/21/2018

#MeToo.

There. I wrote it. Hashtag. Me. Too.

I’ve seethed for months. Conflicted. Irritable. Frustrated. Wondering if ever women and girls would get a fair shake. We won’t. Ever.

The patronizing patriarchal culture that is all of Western civilization and a good chunk of the rest of the world is simply not going to accept women as equals – and that culture will do everything it can – consciously and not – to preserve the status quo. Americans are not going to consider women the equals of men. Not for generations. If ever.

Americans, including American women, are so deeply programmed to place men on pedestals and women in kitchens that we don’t recognize our own biases. We are shocked, discomfited, off kilter and questioning when we experience women in roles outside the paradigm.

I haven’t done the #MeToo for one reason: I’m worn out with the fight to see that girls and women get a fair shake in this American man’s world.

Worn out with working twice as hard and achieving twice as much for less money, fewer opportunities and often not even grudging respect. Worn out with hearing my under-35 women friends sharing the same frustrations their grandmothers faced. Worn out with people who make excuses like “boys will be boys.”

Worn out with hard-line activists on all sides co-opting discussions and collaborations that might have become real, progressive change for women.

Worn out with watching men take their pens and erasers to decades of legislation that protected women and opened opportunities they should have had to begin with. Worn out with knowing that there are no Constitutional rights for women, except the begrudging right to vote. The U.S. Constitution was written by wealthy white men for other wealthy white men.

So what changed? Why hashtag MeToo today? I saw a meme on Facebook the other day, source unknown, that asked: Why is it OK for grown men to accuse priests decades later of sexual assault  – and be taken seriously – but it’s not OK for women?

That brought me up short.

What’s different about the recent accusations against Catholic priests and the accusation of Christine Blasey Ford about Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh? Gender.

Oh, and the Pope is willing to investigate, while Republicans are not.

We instinctively believe the boys-become-men-accusing-priests – and instinctively dismiss the girl-become-woman-accusing-nominee.
Judging before investigating, deciding truth before researching and laying blame without knowledge are wrong. Dismissing a woman’s claim of sexual assault because she’s a woman? That is immoral. Yet we do it. Witness this privileged white male doing his best to dismiss Ford as “misremembering.”

Ford’s coming forward puts everything she has accomplished and all of who she is on the line. I think I’m brave — until I come up against a woman like Ford — or Anita Hill. I am a coward. Even with all that hash tagging, I’m not naming names, sharing anecdotes or telling tales from six decades of struggling against gender bias. Want those details? Not in public.

I’m the one who says “let’s come to the table and find a collaborative solution. Let’s strengthen our agreements and diminish our differences.” I’ll admit to being occasionally off put by – if also admiring of – the women who can march and protest and carry signs with single-minded mission.

I’ve been pretending that I am not supremely angry, frustrated, irritable and inclined to ranting, none of which does a lick of good. Or so I’ve been telling myself.

Maybe that’s just what I need to do. Rant more. Protest loudly. Stop trying to work things out with people whose points of view I disrespect. Refuse to listen patiently when I get man-splained about how I really am letting “all this stuff” get to me.

Not since I was a preschooler have I known a time when my gender wasn’t the first reason I was unable to do what I wanted to do. “Girls don’t (fill in the blank).” “Girls can’t (fill in another blank).”

Well, you know what? Girls CAN. Girls SHOULD. Girls MUST. Because when girls-become-women, they will find their voices despite the certain knowledge they will be dismissed. We can’t let the world get away with “this stuff” anymore.

9 Comments

  1. Leslie

    Right on! Well said! I especially like your comparison of men accusing priests from years ago and thats ok, but a woman doing it? So true!!!

    • LGC KWIN

      Thank you, Leslie. That was what got me thinking!

  2. Karen S Ferriday

    Excellent LGC! Hits the nail on the head for me. “Worn out with working twice as hard and achieving twice as much for less money, fewer opportunities and often not even grudging respect.” Except when I was working for you – my mentor, cheerleader and friend. You affirmed my value and taught me to at least fight for what was rightfully mine: respect and equal treatment. You made me a stronger woman who believed in myself. Thought you should know this. We, as women, MUST speak up for those still fighting the good fight. So glad you wrote this, would love to share!

    • LGC KWIN

      As I said on Facebook a few minutes ago, you are an amazing example of keeping up the fight! Thanks, my friend.

  3. Lynnette LaMarca Nelson

    Thank you for taking time to bring a voice to my beliefs….you said it all when you said you were “worn out” as I quote your words below that stopped me in my tracks and slammed me into reality,again.
    And I am ready to rant again.

    “Worn out with working twice as hard and achieving twice as much for less money, fewer opportunities and often not even grudging respect. Worn out with hearing my under-35 women friends sharing the same frustrations their grandmothers faced. Worn out with people who make excuses like “boys will be boys.”
    Worn out with hard-line activists on all sides co-opting discussions and collaborations that might have become real, progressive change for women.

    You woke me up and I will follow your words…and will “protest loudly. Stop trying to work things out with people whose points of view I disrespect. Refuse to listen patiently when I get man-splained about how I really am letting “all this stuff” get to me.”

    With gratitude that you brought me back to the days when I followed you on the pages of the Rockford Register Star….you, Linda Grist Cunningham! make a difference .

    • LGC KWIN

      Oh, Lynnette, your response helps me, too, get up and go at it again!

  4. Lynnette Nelson

    You woke me up…I will not be silent.
    I will begin again to “Protest loudly. Stop trying to work things out with people whose points of view I disrespect. Refuse to listen patiently when I get man-splained about how I really am letting “all this stuff” get to me.”

    Thank you for taking time to bring a voice my beliefs….you said it all when you said you were “worn out” as I quote your words that stopped me in my tracks and slammed me into reality,
    And I am ready to rant again.

    “Worn out with working twice as hard and achieving twice as much for less money, fewer opportunities and often not even grudging respect. Worn out with hearing my under-35 women friends sharing the same frustrations their grandmothers faced. Worn out with people who make excuses like “boys will be boys.”
    Worn out with hard-line activists on all sides co-opting discussions and collaborations that might have become real, progressive change for women”

    With gratitude I remember why I always followed you in the pages of the Rockford Register Star.

  5. Jane M Wallace

    So very well said, Linda Grist Cunningham. Thank you for so eloquently putting words to my very own frustration

    • LGC KWIN

      Thank you, Jane. It took me a long time to write that (or, more to the point, to post it.) I was pretty sure there were others who shared my conflicting feelings. I try to remind myself that “we will reap tomorrow if we do not grow weary today.”

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Linda Grist Cunningham

Linda Grist Cunningham is editor and proprietor of Key West Island News and KeyWestWatch Media LLC. She and her husband, a park ranger at Fort Zach, live in Key West with their Cat 5s.

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