Patti Davis, Ronald and Nancy Reagan’s daughter, has written an op-ed for The Washington Post in which she recounts being sexually assaulted in the office of a prominent music executive four decades ago.
An aspiring songwriter at the time, she was hoping to get her songs in the hands of some of the executive’s clients.
Instead, she was sexually assaulted in the executive’s office, on his leather couch.
While she remembers the details of the assault itself — those events are “indelible,” she notes — many of the other particulars have become a blur:
I don’t remember what month it was. I don’t remember whether his assistant was still there when I arrived. I don’t remember whether we said anything to each other when I left his office.
I never told anyone for decades — not a friend, not a boyfriend, not a therapist, not my husband when I got married years later.
It doesn’t surprise me one bit that for more than 30 years, Christine Blasey Ford didn’t talk about the assault she remembers, the one she accuses Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh of committing.
It’s important to understand how memory works in a traumatic event. Ford has been criticized for the things she doesn’t remember, like the address where she says the assault happened, or the time of year, or whose house it was. But her memory of the attack itself is vivid and detailed. … That’s what happens: Your memory snaps photos of the details that will haunt you forever, that will change your life and live under your skin. It blacks out other parts of the story that really don’t matter much.
Davis notes that, given sexual assault victims’ tendency to forget some of the ancillary details of such traumatic events, ordering an FBI investigation is the very least Senate Republicans can do:
Ford wants the FBI to investigate so that some of the details she doesn’t remember can be established. It’s a brave request. Perhaps the aging men who are poised to interrogate her, unless they hide behind surrogates, should pause for a moment and think about the courage it takes for a woman to say: Here is my memory. It has haunted me for decades. It changed my life. You need to know about it now because of what is at stake for this country.
Requesting an investigation into the incident isn’t a big ask. Unless they just want her to go away. Which is, by the way, one reason that women are scared to speak up.
No doubt Davis isn’t the only woman who’s noticed the lengths to which a cabal of aging white men, who are inexplicably living a Mad Men life during a #MeToo moment, are going to humiliate, marginalize, and outright dismiss Dr. Ford. But we need more of these voices during next week’s hearing — not just those of the accuser and the accused. Isn’t the fate of the Supreme Court and the country itself at least that important?
Why did Dr. Ford wait so long to come forward? Why is she afraid of getting grilled in front of TV cameras, even though she’s almost certainly telling the truth?
Davis can tell you. As can millions of other women who have had eerily similar experiences.
But Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, Orrin Hatch, et al., simply don’t want to hear it. I wonder why.