Defend the Disadvantaged

I’m doing my usual post-workout sweat in the sauna. I forgot my headphones today. The guy next to me begins.

“So, can I ask you something? How they gonna convict this guy when she don’t even know the time or place it happened?”

I should have shrugged and continued my Candy Crush game. The third guy in the sauna chimes in.

“I don’t know, man. This is all so messed up.”

OK, so it’s going to be a 2-on-1 (and not in the “Devil’s Triangle” sense). I could stay quiet no longer.

“It’s not a trial. Nobody is being convicted. It’s a job interview. There’s no due process involved. If you apply for a job here as a personal trainer and, after your interview, a woman informs the manager that you once forced yourself on her, that manager can choose not to hire you, whether she can prove it or not.”

“Naw, man. They can’t do that.”

“Actually, yes, they can hire and fire you at will.”

Here is where I expect the next Fox News talking point. Expectation met.

“This is all just a political thing done by the Democrats ’cause they hate Trump.”

I sigh and smile, tamping down my temper. Anger gets us nowhere.

“Well, friend, ask yourself why she would lie.”

“… because the Democrats got to her and they using her.”

“For that to be true, she and the Democrats must be able to see the future. She first discussed this attack, including naming her attacker, back in 2012. For this to be a setup, she would have needed to know somehow Trump was going to run for president, win, have a justice retire, and then name Brett Kavanaugh. Doesn’t that seem unlikely?”

“Fine. So why would he lie?”

“To get the job. If he admitted to it, he would be disqualified. He might also lose his current job.”

“It ain’t right. This country is all divided. I can’t believe she remembers all that stuff but can’t remember what day it was or what the address was.”

At this point, I’m way over my 20-minute sweat limit. I can turn and leave. I can’t. I wipe my face and continue, careful to be as kind as possible while making eye contact and listening.

“We tend to remember traumas more clearly than typical events. If you were in a bad car accident, you’d remember more about it than someone passing by. She remembers the painful parts. Again, why would she lie? If she were your daughter or wife opening up about this, how would you react?”

“Well, why did that Fienstien lady hold onto it for so long? They just playin’ games.”

“Dr. Ford wanted anonymity. Now we see why. Dr. Ford sent an anonymous letter to the Washington Post. How hard do you think it was for good reporters to ask her high school classmates who they thought the letter was about? When they approached Dr. Ford, she had no choice but to come out. Again, ask yourself why she would lie and bring all of this on herself and her family. Just think about it. Think for yourself. I gotta go. Have a great day, my friends.”

I wasn’t going to change any minds there in the sauna. But, I could plant the seeds of curiosity and doubt.

I drove home wondering why I would defend a woman I never met. I couldn’t relate to her. I was never on either end of that sort of abuse. Why did her testimony bring me to tears? Why did his defensive fit make me want to throw ice water on his tantrum-red face? I guess because my mother taught me to defend the disadvantaged. Dr. Ford faced 11 men out to prove her a liar. My reaction was ingrained as profoundly as her memory. I wanted to jump in front of her and yell, “Leave her alone, you cowards!”

If my brothers and I all take a little time out of our days to offer kindness, empathy, and support, we can mature and earn women’s love.