(Trigger warning: Discussion of sexual assault and the patriarchy)
I was going to write about my most embarrassing moment as a teen, and I had a whole topic lined up, but then, when I was supposed to type it yesterday, they had this Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearing, and now the Republicans are moving forward to try to confirm him as a Supreme Court Justice—despite credible claims that he committed sexual assault and then repeatedly lied about it (and pretty much everything else.) There’s still some uncertainty, as I type this, about the outcome (there will be a "limited" FBI investigation) but that confirmation is possible is a national embarrassment.
So instead of writing what I was supposed to yesterday, I basically broke for a while. Sorry. You get to read the results.
Except for the prep school and assaulty parts, Judge Kavanaugh and I have similar resumes: We both clerked for Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Judges. We both clerked for a Supreme Court Justice. Heck, we actually clerked for the same Justice, but a decade apart.
Which is pretty embarrassing, at this point.
We’re even similar in that I’ve given up the law to write fiction, and Judge Kavanaugh has branched out into lying under oath. (Details upon request. He lied about almost everything.)
He also managed to turn his confirmation hearing—basically a job interview—into a snarling rage- and tear-filled meltdown where he interrupted female senators and talked about his love of beer. Judicial temperament much?
I believe in the rule of law. I believe in empathy. I believe in facts. I believe in the power of honesty, integrity, vulnerability, and sacrifice for the greater good. I believe women and girls are human beings who matter.
I believe Christine Blasey Ford.
And I believe our country is in serious trouble.
I believe you should look at the expressions of the women.
As a fiction writer, I also believe in the capacity to change. But I know that change is incredibly hard, and it requires wrenching hardship as a catalyst—we only change when we are forced to, when failure to change would cause almost complete destruction to who we are or what we most love and believe in.
We are there, America. We are dealing with the party of Quirrell, who famously remarked in the first Harry Potter book that his master had taught him “there is no good and evil, only power and those too weak to seize it.” This morning on Twitter, writer Anna Ursu said she would love to see more male kidlit writers using their platforms to stand up for women.
Yes. That’s overdue. And writers—especially those of us who write for young people—should stand up for human decency, empathy, and dismantling systems that enable abuse without consequences.
I’m part of the community of writers for young people—which is roughly 90% female—and it’s 2018, in the age of social media. So I’ve seen a huge number of women I know share their wrenching, searing, hearbreaking #MeToo and #WhyIDidn’tReport stories.
Words fail, except that we cannot fail another generation by letting this go on.
We have to change the world, politically and through everything we do. I don’t want to be embarrassed to be an American. I don’t want to be part of a patriarchy built on silencing victims of assault and refusing to hold their privileged attackers responsible.
It’s not embarrassing.
And time’s up.
It’s been a hard week for lots of people. The number for RAINN, the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline, is 800-656-HOPE (4673.) Take care of yourselves and be well.
Dean Gloster has an MFA in writing for children and young adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. He is a former stand-up comedian and a former law clerk at the U.S. Supreme Court. His debut YA novel DESSERT FIRST is out now from Merit Press/Simon Pulse. School Library Journal called it “a sweet, sorrowful, and simply divine debut novel that teens will be sinking their teeth into. This wonderful story…will be a hit with fans of John Green's and Jesse Andrews's .” Dean’s hobbies are downhill ski racing and Aikido. He’s currently at work on a novel about a 16-year-old boy who gets a sketchy summer internship and finds out it’s with Death herself.
Dean is on Twitter: @deangloster