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The Cypress

The student news site of Brookline High School

The Cypress

The student news site of Brookline High School

The Cypress

Christine Blasey Ford’s “One Way Back” offers a personal recount of testifying against Brett Kavanaugh

In her book, Christine Blasey Ford likens her experience testifying against Kavanaugh at the senate to surfing into shark-infested waters.

“I am here today, not because I want to be. I am terrified.”

Spoken by a diminutive figure whose hands quivered as she looked at the dozen, mostly male senators seated in front of her, those 13 succinct words rang through the Hart Senate Office Building, echoing loudly to millions outside the chamber—yet seemingly falling on the deaf ears of the politicians in front of her.

“The strange part,” Christine Blasey Ford, a Stanford-based research psychologist, writes, “was that it didn’t feel like I hadn’t been heard. It felt like I had been believed, but then the response was a proverbial shrug.”

Of course, she could hardly have known the long-term impact of her words as she leveled allegations of sexual assault against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh from back when they were both in high school; it was apparent to any observer, however, that the words she spoke that day would forever alter social and political discourse in the United States.

Nearly six years after her powerful testimony, Blasey Ford is retelling her harrowing allegation against now-Justice Kavanaugh and the unforeseeably grave danger it posed to her life in her gripping memoir “One Way Back”—only this time, without senators in sight. She recounts how her accusations, unearthing the most painful chapter in her life, plunged her into a fame—or an infamy—she never could have imagined when she first came forward. A long-standing dread of confined spaces, which she says stems from Kavanaugh’s alleged assault, now merged with a fear of open areas as anonymous individuals menacingly sent horrifying death threats her way. They compelled her family to seek refuge in a hotel room for several months. Her children were even escorted to school by bodyguards.

She didn’t always live so perilously and powerlessly, though. Long before she went to Washington, became one of the most polarizing figures in the nation and watched as her story became a cause celebré for women around the country in the #MeToo era, Blasey Ford was merely a private research psychologist and surfing enthusiast. In her memoir, she draws heavily from the sport to capture the horrifying nature of the nightmare she endured after testifying.

So why risk the comfort and bliss that she had known previously? Why expose herself and her family to the harsh, biting glare of the spotlight? Plainly put, Blasey Ford felt a responsibility to speak her truth, regardless of the implications.

Surfing out into uncomfortable waters—and being wiped out whole by the wave—defines Blasey Ford’s story in “One Way Back.” Indeed, readers seeking a definitive answer on Kavanaugh’s innocence or guilt won’t find it in the story. Blasey Ford has already shared all she remembers publicly, and there are no new witnesses or diary entries. Instead, the book offers a reflective journey into what it means to be thrust into the spotlight during a significant societal moment, which Blasey Ford likens to surfing in shark-infested waters or, at least, navigating through turbulent times.

There are beautifully uplifting moments amidst the challenges: amidst every threat, there are numerous expressions of support; amidst every instance of doubt, there’s a reminder of her own privileges—a supportive family, stable income—and the belief that enduring her ordeal might ease the path for future victims. Did it? Will it? We may only know the answers to those questions decades from now, long after Blasey Ford’s allegations rocked the political world.

If you trusted Blasey Ford’s account in 2018, “One Way Back” will deepen your understanding of the woman beyond the headlines. If you didn’t, I doubt the book will alter your perspective, if you even choose to take it off the shelves. Nonetheless, it should provoke some reflection on the allegations she’s leveled. It’s difficult to comprehend why someone would fabricate allegations to attain the level of attention Blasey Ford received. I mean, isn’t it challenging enough to fathom why someone would subject themselves to such a sickening ordeal just to speak the truth?

For me, Blasey Ford’s memoir resonated most profoundly as a testament to a time long before the necessary yet tragically belated #MeToo movement when long-repressed traumas were aired not just in courts but in public opinion, and when they were responded to by politicians seeking to exploit them for political gain rather than a bona fide desire to make structural change. Blasey Ford’s account is one of, sadly, many reminders that our society still has to reckon with our systematic silencing of abuse survivors. It is understandably easy to feel crushed by this; reading Blasey Ford’s memoir, I was. But Blasey Ford is more optimistic than most.

“I’d like to believe we’re in the middle of a revolution that will only be recognizable in the years to come,” she writes.

Hopefully, even sooner than that.

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