Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Mark Judge Didn’t Help Christine Blasey Ford in the 1980s, But He Can Help Her Now

By Professor Maureen Johnson

This article originally appeared in The Daily Journal.

Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony about Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is as remarkable for what she asserts Kavanaugh did as for what she acknowledges Kavanaugh did not. More particularly, Ford doesn’t claim that she was raped by Kavanaugh. She testified that he stopped short, in part due to admonitions by Mark Judge. In fact, Ford testified that there were moments that she believed Mark might come to her aid. Ultimately, Mark threw himself onto the bed as Kavanaugh toyed pulling away Ford’s clothing. The ensuing tumble freed her from Kavanagh’s pin and allowed her to flee from the attack.

Ford’s recollection that Mark urged Kavanaugh to hold back not only demonstrates she made every effort to faithfully and truthfully recollect the incident, but it also provides extraordinary insight into the goings on in that fateful summer in 1982.

Boys will be boys. And in the 1980s, Mark obviously knew the limits. Entitled white boys could get away with the occasional sexual assault of a younger girl in a compromising setting. As Ford testified, the 15-year-old girl in her understandably didn’t want to tell her parents that she had been drinking — albeit one beer — at a home where chaperones were absent and certain of the boys were “stumbling drunk” and on the prowl. In judgmental 1980s speak, she was asking for it. And she wasn’t actually raped. Had she reported to her parents or law enforcement, the slap-on-the-wrist would have been — at best — a stern warning to Kavanaugh to lay off the beer and think twice about forcing himself on a 15-year-old.

That is why Mark urged Kavanaugh to hold back.

Kavanaugh was nearing the line that could get boys in trouble. Had Kavanaugh raped or impregnated Ford, or visibly bruised or broke her body, trouble would ensue. She couldn’t be bullied into silence because others surely would ask questions and surely would demand answers. This line between culpability and accountability always has existed, but in varying iterations.

In days past, white boys understood they might get away with raping a woman of color. But they best not rape a white woman, especially if her ilk was of high society. A factory boss could sexually harass an assembly worker desperate for her next paycheck, but he would never try that with a female CEO. And drunken frat boys could gang rape a drunken sorority girl in their confines, all the while knowing an attack against a woman studying at a campus library would land them in jail. Put simply, society far too long has looked the other way at sexual assaults deemed unworthy of investigation or response.


Mark Judge knew what Kavanaugh did to Ford in that upstairs bedroom was wrong then and is wrong now. She wasn’t invited into the bedroom; she was pushed from behind. The door was locked, and the music turned up to dull her potential screams. While Mark may not remember the specific incident, he may well remember the modus operandi: make the attack off to the side and target a younger girl who likely isn’t going to report if you stop short of actual rape.

Mark can’t go back in time and undo the sexual assault that indelibly is etched into Ford’s memory. Indeed, that is how sexual assaults work. Whether it be 30 days or 30 years, a sexual assault victim viscerally and forever remembers the key sensory details. But Mark can do the right thing now. He can own up to past indiscretions and do what any decent person would do: apologize.

This dilemma faces not only Mark, but our entire country. Ford is telling the truth. She passed a lie detector test and carefully chose to allege only what she clearly remembered. Kavanaugh could have responded by expressing remorse — for either the attack or his failure to remember due to excessive inebriation — but he instead chose to attack Ford again and anew by calling her a liar.

Any 12-step program resolves in making amends and leading by example.

Let’s hope Mark can be a better man than the belligerent drunk he at least tried to stop from escalating a sexual assault into a full-on rape. In the process, let’s start reflecting upon how we have been complicit in ignoring sexual abuse — by both male and female predators — both in the past and in the present. We too need to make amends and we too need to be better human beings.

We also need to figure out how to address sexual assaults committed in a day where society looked the other way. But the answer cannot be to license present-day lying and pretention that such assaults never occurred. Nor can it be exalting to the Supreme Court an even one-time sexual predator willing to falsely trash a former victim to secure that seat. The plain issue we face as a nation is whether those entitled can skirt accountability for sexual assaults by simply saying they never happened. Whether it be a plantation owner in the 1800s or a modern day Supreme Court nominee, the answer must be a resounding no. And that answer is long, long overdue.

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