Like Dr. Ford, I graduated in the 1980's - 1984 to be exact. I believed, so firmly and with such complete conviction that things were better for women. My mom's generation had little in common with me and their fight for equality had been won. Sure, we had a lot of young men who behaved in arrogant, sexist ways, but there were lots of men who didn't, and the ones who did were worthy only of being ignored. It was possible to tune them out.
I believed that we were done with the conversations about gender equality and reproductive rights. Roe v. Wade was the law of the land. Abortion was firmly and irrevocably a right possessed by all fertile women. It was a brave new world where women could do anything and be anything. I absolutely thought I would vote for the first woman president.
In a lot of ways, I was able to be really complacent. I work for the government, which means that I do not suffer from a wage gap. All of our salaries are public (in fact, there is a local newspaper that regularly publishes them), and mine is identical to my male peers with the same experience and responsibility levels. I've always been ambitious, and I excelled academically.
I graduated at the top of my law school class, a place where tests were taken anonymously in blue books, and no grade inflation to the men accrued unfairly. I'm equally fortunate to have a job where being a woman is often an asset - as a child abuse and sex crime prosecutor (yes, I do the same job as the woman who questioned Dr. Ford today) I benefit from my ability to establish an easy rapport with children and victimized women. Misogynistic, arrogant men tend to underestimate me, as they do all women, to their peril. I've been able to be a great prosecutor in part because I am a woman, not in spite of it. Jurors bond with me and the victims I present in court, and I'm convinced that part of that is because I am able to have a demeanor that is strong, honest and kind.
I live in Oregon, a place that is non-religious, so the patriarchal communities of my childhood (Idaho/Utah) were left far behind. And it is also a place that is progressive and that places a high value on equality. Reproductive rights are protected in our constitution.
I say this by way of explaining how and why the election of Donald Trump in 2016 blind-sided me. I thought we were done with all of this. I have been stunned and sickened to realize that, far from being finished with the conversation about gender equality, women's independence, our actual humanity, is reviled by a full 30% of my country. They hate us. They really, really do hate us.
What do you do when the blinders are stripped from your eyes? How do I continue to be part of a country and a culture that, in no small measure, despises me and everything I and other women like me, independent women, stand for? People who don't believe women, and even if they do believe women, don't think that we are important. What I thought was real, isn't.
And I don't know where to go from here.