Yesterday, as many men watched the hearings on TV, they turned up the volume louder, tweeted, and texted their friends about how it was the “worst day ever.” They couldn’t seem to grasp that this was all a foregone conclusion, and they certainly couldn’t understand how a qualified woman—now deemed by them a hero—could smile, calmly speak the truth, and ultimately concede her dignity.
It was strange, because the night Hillary Clinton lost the election, many women turned off the TV before it was officially called and went to bed. We didn’t need to face the foregone conclusion, and we certainly didn’t need to see a qualified woman—a hero for many of us—smile, calmly address her supporters, and concede.
Yesterday, many women wept and tweeted about weeping, but the men seemed to be taking it even harder, to be shaken by it, broken even.
And they seemed to be broken because, perhaps, for the first time ever, they had to face the reality of what existence is like for all the women in their lives. They had to understand that every bit of progressive advice they’ve given women at bars, over dinner tables, in annual reviews, or under covers didn’t fucking matter. It meant that those firm conversations filled with directives—we all know what they sound like—to just “ask for that raise,” or just “go to HR and tell on your boss,” or “OK, if I’m being honest, what’s wrong with you is that you apologize too much” actually carry no weight.
Because yesterday, the liberal men saw that a woman can take their advice, march into a room, and tell her truth, and she can walk out of the room so much more unbelievably fucked than when she started.
And not only did these men see that their advice and guidance mean nothing, they also, I would guess, had to come to terms with the fact that they are still part of the problem. How many of these good men, deeply upset about the election in 2016, bloviated to anyone who would listen: “Trump became president, because, sure, sexism, but also wow, did those Democrats fuck things up, the fucking Democratic Party, man, and ugh don’t get me started on Bernie Sanders, who if I’m being honest probably could have won, or just somebody people like, like Joe Biden, and also, [whispers] the Clintons are criminals.” Because for many of these liberal men, the 2016 election was more about losing to Trump—they could have beaten him, themselves, if people had just listened to people like them—than it was about the reality that Trump actually won because so many men and women still hate women so fucking much.
As the Worst Day Ever unfolded in front of them, these men could no longer hang onto their whispers, their belief that the system could be fair if you (they) just ran it right. There were no more alternative belief systems, no more “If only someone better had run,” no more “Well, OK, but mayyyyyyybe, and I believe her, but a friend of mine got falsely accused one time….” All fucking gone. They watched Dr. Blasey Ford and seemed to figure out, finally, what the world does to women who speak up and to women who speak out. They seemed to be facing the terrifying fact that where they previously said they believed women, they now actually believed a woman.