Brett Kavanaugh, Christine Blasey Ford and My High School Party #MeToo Moment

When I heard about Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s accusations against Brett Kavanaugh, my first thought was: me, too.

Not just because I grew up in the same small circle of Washington, D.C. private schools, albeit a decade later. Not just because I went to those same parties, at someone’s house when their parents were out of town, passing around cans of Milwaukee’s Best or whatever we could buy with our fake IDs.  Not just because at one of those parties I was locked in a room by a boy I barely knew, who pinned me down with his body weight and tried to force me to give him oral sex. Not just because I was able to push him off me, my hands shaking as I fumbled with the lock, pushing the door open just before he was able to grab me and pull me back.

Because I never told anyone until decades later. Because I figured it was the way things were, and talking about what happened would just make me sound like damaged goods. Because being forced to succumb to a boy’s desires was something the people around me saw as the price of belonging, of being desired, of being a teenage girl.

For me, it was the first time this happened but it wouldn’t be the last. The trauma I felt that day got buried in experiences that left much deeper scars. It was the first time it happened, but not the last. And it’s still there, 30 years later, lurking just below the surface.

I look at Brett Kavanaugh now and I see the boys of my teenage years: entitled, arrogant, brash. They were told by everyone around them that they were special, that they were better, that they were the cream of the crop, that the world was theirs to inherit. Many of them did end up inheriting the world; some of them saw that as a great responsibility, as a chance to give back and make the world a better place, and some of them continued to take what they wanted, whenever they wanted, however they wanted.

As girls, we also were taught that we were special, that we were destined for great things, and for a while we believed that. Then puberty hit. Then we became bodies and objects who were judged not by our intellectual caliber, but by the prominence of our curves. Then we became like every other teenage girl in America.

Unfortunately for me, my curves weren’t that prominent—so when that boy invited me to come upstairs with him at that party, I was excited that someone desired me. When he locked the door behind us, I felt my first pang of fear. When he wrapped his arms around me and started rubbing me all over, the fear took over. When he pinned me on the bed and tried to force my face down, his pants open, his erect penis pushing into my mouth, I still remember the sheer terror that took over and pulsed through my limbs as I pushed with everything I had against his superior strength.

That time, I got lucky. I got away before he could do too much damage. But I’ll never forget the feeling of him behind me as I struggled to open the door. I’ll never forget how it felt to have the luck of seconds in my favor. I ran through the streets that night, shaking off the sobs—gradually pushing it all down, out and away.

I don’t remember his name. I don’t remember the name of the street or the house number or who else was at that party. I do remember the color of the sheets on the bed (green). I do remember the way his body smelled (strangely sweet). But I’ll never forget the fear. It will live with me always.

I’m writing this because the allegations facing Brett Kavanaugh as he is advanced toward a confirmation vote to sit on the Supreme Court aren’t just disagreements about silly things that happened at parties in the company of drunk teenagers. Dr. Christine Blasey Ford is haunted by the night she alleges Kavanaugh tried to rape her. Her fear shapes her travel habits and the number of front doors on her house.

Me, too. That fear is now a part of who I am.

The world today is different than it was then. Boys like Brett Kavanaugh don’t get to just inherit the world and everything that comes with it, or at least not quite so easily. Boys will no longer be boys; instead, they’ll have to take responsibility for their actions. They’ll have to sit up and listen when we talk about what happened. They’ll have to understand that it’s not okay.

Not now. Not 30 years ago. Not ever.


Emilie Surrusco is the founder of Ellsworth Media Group, where she works with organizations and individuals fighting to move a progressive agenda in Washington, D.C. She previously served in a variety of non-profits as a communications specialist, including roles as Speechwriter at the American Bar Association and Press Secretary at Feminist Majority Foundation.