If you’ve followed the news at all this past week, you are all too familiar with Brett Kavanaugh. The controversial Supreme Court nominee became a symbol for every woman’s worst fear when Dr. Christine Blasey Ford came forward with allegations of sexual assault against him. From his initial denials to the testimony he gave before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Kavanaugh has exemplified the length to which some men will go to control and discredit women.
When the allegation first came forward, I felt with every fiber of my being that he would not be confirmed. I believed beyond a shadow of a doubt that in the current culture of #MeToo, he would be the latest in a long line of publicly ousted abusers. I thought that more women would inevitably come forward with allegations, and the Senate would absolutely do the right thing by sending him packing.
Still, I did a good job distancing myself from the testimonies. My schedule required me to commit energy elsewhere, and I couldn’t risk the emotional drainage of keeping up with Kavanaugh. If I let curiosity get the best of me, I would have gotten caught up in the proceedings and spent too much time dwelling upon them.
The next day, the judiciary committee voted along party lines to go through with the confirmation proceedings. An FBI probe was announced soon after, but it didn’t lessen the initial sting of the news. This time, I wasn’t so careful. On Twitter, I scrolled past sad and angry women trying to grapple with their disbelief, and I got stuck. I told myself that pushing the vote would mean ousting Kavanaugh that much sooner. Then I could go back to believing in a political system concerned with truth instead of agenda.
Before long, I gave up. An all-too-familiar gnawing feeling ate at my stomach — the same one that grabbed me during Hurricane Maria and the first wave of President Donald Trump’s travel bans. It was the same hollow feeling that sat on my diaphragm when I lay in bed refreshing the computer screen, praying it would eventually display a different outcome to the 2016 presidential election. This black goop in my belly reduced my emotional state to a vague sorrow, and served as a constant reminder that all was not right in my America.
So I turned to the only thing I could control. I took out my ear buds, opened up the Spotify app and transported my body into the world of Regina Spektor. I settled on listening to “The Grand Hotel,” a place Spektor describes as hiding the entrance to hell. In the song, she talks about mythical times, when devils would emerge from the basement and fill the world with terror. Now they’re too tired to eat souls, content to hang out with the humans on the dance floor instead. Hiding their horns under hats, they look for comfort and a good time.
Maybe I particularly liked the song that day because I needed to believe people could change, even if it’s instigated by fatigue instead of moral courage. Kavanaugh throwing a tantrum in front of a national audience or 11 U.S. Senators voting to speed up his confirmation makes this sentiment seem naive. There’s no sense of justice or exhaustion — just a bunch of angry, affluent men too stubborn to entertain the light. More often than not, people do the bad thing when it’s obvious what choosing good is. People who start off choosing wrong keep at it, confining icy hearts to the tall-tales and happy fictions.
Perhaps I need to accept that the world is more like “The Trapper and the Furrier” on the same album. The men in this song separate animals from their mothers, take advantage of dying patients and overwork employees in pursuit of profit.
“What a strange, strange world we live in,” Spektor sings, “where the good are damned and the wicked forgiven.”
Despite how appropriate the song was in light of my feelings, I skipped it. I didn’t need to have those words ingrained into me, confirming my belief that the world really is broken beyond repair. For every day when Kavanaugh gives his testimony, there are more where I see people speaking out and trying to do right by others.
For every time I feel hopeless, there are more when I am lifted up by the people I love. For every realist bent on making America bleak again, there are plenty of starry-eyed romantics and naive dreamers to remind us there is still good to be had.
Even if I can’t see past the dark right now, soon I’ll be back to my ignorant bliss and putting faith in our ability to do the right thing. Until then, I’ll check into the Grand Hotel and dance with semi-retired ghouls until I drop. When I wake up to a new day, I’ll believe again.
Baylee Shlichtman is junior majoring in journalism. Her column, “F Sharp,” runs every other Monday.