I remember her turquoise suit, her red lipstick, her perfect posture, her poise. I remember Justice Thomas’ denials, and the senators’ sneers and the pundits’ dismissals. She followed him from one job to another, they’d say. A few jokes about pubic hair on Coke cans? Couldn’t have been that bad, right?
I knew why she’d followed him. By 21, like most women, I’d had experience with the way the world makes excuses for young men (and old ones) and instead trains its scrutiny on the women who dare to complain. What’s your problem? Was it really such a big deal? C’mon, it wasn’t like he raped you. Better to tell yourself that the boss who groped you at the office party was just an old goat and the teenage boy who grabbed you at the pool party was just high-spirited and that all the ones in between were just … men. Better to tell yourself that the devil you know is better than the one who might be waiting in the next office. Better to work hard and hope you’ll get an assignment or a promotion or finally end up in a place where men like that have no sway over you.
Except, guess what? The joke’s on us. There’s no such place. Clarence Thomas sits on the Supreme Court, and in the White House sits a man who confessed on tape to how he was “automatically” attracted to pretty women and just starts to kiss them when he sees them, and how “when you’re a star, they let you do it.”
—Jennifer Weiner, author, in The New York Times Week in Review, September 23, 2018.