Alexandra Petri: It is very difficult to get the train to stop
Christine Blasey Ford is sworn in before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018 in Washington. Her attorney's Debra Katz and Michael Bromwich watch. (Win McNamee/Pool Image via AP)
“I was ... wondering whether I would just be jumping in front of a train that was headed to where it was headed anyway, and that I would just be personally annihilated.”
-- Christine Blasey Ford, on whether to come forward
The train is very, very urgent. It is moving a man's career forward. It is very difficult to get the train to stop.
The presumption is that the train will not stop. The presumption is that you will be a scream thrown on the tracks. That it will require a great many of you to be thrown onto the tracks before the train will grind to a halt. It can never be just the one; it must be several at once. Someday we will know the precise conversion. We will tell them: Do not bother unless there are 20 others like you, because the train will continue, and you will be crushed.
It is painful to watch a woman caught and torn in the gears of a man's progress. To watch the meaning of her name change into a thing that happened to her once. To watch the first sentence of her obituary get rewritten. To watch her name be linked to this man's name (Anita, accuser of Clarence; Christine, accuser of Brett). All she asks is for the train to stop.
To make the train stop, you must throw yourself in front. Your whole self. Your fear of flying. Your family.
You must throw yourself in front of the train, but still it may not be enough. These trains move very fast. We must not ask why.
Maybe the train will stop for a week. That seems fair. A week, just to make sure. A week, to take this seriously, at a gentleman's request.
I am so tired of this constant parade of pain.
In the Bible, Thomas says he will not believe what Jesus has survived unless he can stick his hand into the wounds. But this is not a reasonable thing to ask of someone who is not God, to stick your hand into their wound. I am tired of watching people become wounds. Half the Internet is a wound. Have you stuck your hand in it enough? Do you believe yet? The #MeToo movement lurches forward over a path of scars. The change is so slow and the sacrifice it demands so great.
Even as she testified Thursday, Christine Blasey Ford kept apologizing. ("I'm sorry," she said. "I can read fast!" she said. She was here to be "helpful," she said.)
Someday I want to not be tired.
Someday I want us not to apologize.
Women are used to squinting to see our own stories in the stories of others. To reading ourselves into the words "all men are created equal." To being the thing tied to the tracks to raise the stakes.
I am so tired of the moment when you discover how little your weight counts against the train's.
I want us to be the train and not the thing thrown under it.
I want us to be the thing too urgent to be stopped, not the thing that must curl up apologetically to make room for it.
Is it too much to ask to be the train sometimes? Not all the time, just sometimes.
I am so tired of watching us jump.
I am so tired of watching the trains keep going.
Alexandra Petri | The Washington Post
Alexandra Petri is a Washington Post columnist offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day. She is the author of “A Field Guide to Awkward Silences.” Twitter, @petridishes.