It’s usually one of the last things I hear before heading into bed at night. I’ll be sitting at the antique rolltop, sorting out my pills for the next day, dropping them into the appropriate compartments of my Mad Hatter pillbox, and Lynn will be calling, in her sing-song encouraging voice, “Put Hope away…!”
I grimace and shake my head because it seems all too appropriate for the political times we find ourselves in. Thankfully, she isn’t talking to me. She’s talking to Jemma, the golden retriever. It’s part of their nightly routine, as Lynn coaxes Jemma to put the day’s toys back in the toybox. “Jemma, get red ring. Put red ring away. Good Jemma dog! Now put green ball away. Put green ball away. Good dog! Now put Hope away…”
A plush white rabbit. A Christmas gift for Jemma that arrived with a silver medallion around the neck that said “Hope.” Not long after, word came that the Trump whisperer was leaving her job at the White House. So we now refer to the bunny as Hope Hicks. “Put Hope Hicks away…” She’s just landed a job as chief communications officer for New Fox.
There was a despairing column in the NYT a few days ago, “How Do I Explain Justice Kavanaugh to My Daughters?” Jennifer Weiner feels crushed by the vicious reactions of Kavanaugh’s supporters. Blasey Ford bravely testified and it didn’t matter. Weiner writes,
Our girls will learn to police their clothes, their words, their drinking, their behavior, their choices, because they’ve been watching, and what they’ve seen is this: If you get hurt, it’s probably your fault, and if you tell, probably no one will believe you, and even if people do, probably nothing will happen.
But maybe our daughters are smarter than that. Perhaps they’ve seen more than that.
The chances of Kavanaugh not being confirmed were ever miniscule to none. Nothing short of a convictable offense was going to change that. But it is far from true that nothing happened. Young women were watching all of that, too.
They saw the floodgates of stories open. Women who’d locked up their own stories for years and decades discovered they could finally find it in themselves to testify, too. They found empathy and support. Some called them heroes.
Monica Hesse wrote a brilliant column explaining why so many women hadn’t, and haven’t, told their fathers about their own assaults and many fathers were rattled by those revelations. They struggled and questioned and thought and re-thought their own behavior.
Young women saw that they’re not alone and the voices proclaiming, “It’s not your fault,” echoed loud and long. Young men questioned their own behavior and wondered about the kinds of men they want to be and how to become them. Discussion shifted from the privileged power dynamics in the workplace to the conditions that give rise to men behaving that way in the first place.
People looked for better ways to talk about what happens. Catharine MacKinnon wrote:
Culturally, it is still said “women allege” or “claim” they were sexually assaulted. Those accused “deny” what was alleged. What if survivors “report” sexual violation and the accused “alleges” or “claims” it did not occur, or occur as reported?
...the girls of this generation are as passionate and unapologetic about what matters to them as any in history. They display a sense of moral clarity, an instinct for inclusiveness, and a commitment to making the world a better place for people of all ages and genders. The rest of us should follow their lead.
Times Up isn’t going to eradicate workplace harassment, but it is giving people the tools, psychological and practical, to resist and to fight back. The walls of the patriarchy didn’t come tumbling down on the strength of Dr. Ford’s testimony. But more cracks appeared. Young people watching saw all of that, too. One woman came to DC and told her truth to the Senate. Millions watched. Sure, Kavanaugh was confirmed. But so much else happened as well.
On any given night, weary of the tumult and anger and bitter frustrations of the day, we put Hope away. Every morning, full of energy and glee, Jemma shakes her loose again.