By Katherine Macfarlane • September 30, 2018•Writers in Residence, Careers, Legal Academia, Politics and Government, Issues, Balancing Private and Professional Life, Sexism, Sexual Harassment, and Other Forms of Discrimination
It was not an easy week, last week. I don’t have it in me to tell you how my disability affected my work, because though it certainly did, as it always does, I was pulled in multiple directions by something else. I was both teacher and witness, professor and person. It was not an easy week to be all of those things.
It was not easy to decide what to do on the day of the hearings. Should I cancel class, encouraging my students to watch history unfold, a history that speaks to their future as members of the legal profession? Or would I denigrate the law by cancelling classes, choosing news of the moment over education? The classes went on. I felt the absence of my students who chose to watch the hearings, disappointed in myself for not watching with them.
It was not easy to pause between teaching to watch snippets of testimony that made me shiver. In Dr. Ford, I saw a version of myself—a serious academic, but also a feeling person. I heard her recount her teenage years, and I thought of my younger self, less privileged than Dr. Ford, but just as carefree. Until.
It was not easy to recognize other men in Brett Kavanaugh. He reminded me of every man who could be kind and patient until crossed, at which point a hot anger would appear, one that would make me want to run. He reminded me of what my father looked like when he was drunk and angry. Of the way a former boyfriend would behave before hurling an insult at me, spit flying. Of what a judge looked like when I highlighted precedent that did not fit into the judge’s plan for the case.
It was not easy to know that Professor Anita Hill, whom I had the honor of meeting last year, had to watch this unfold.
It was not easy to watch two courageous women speak their truth to Senator Jeff Flake. Because their truth sounded a lot like mine, like the truth experienced by my friends. While these two women spoke with confidence and passion, I cried. It was the first time I cried all week, and it felt both cathartic and exhausting.
It was not easy to think of my sisters, my mother, my cousins, my friends, my aunt, my students . . . it was overwhelming.
It is not easy to realize that though I am out of words, I am not out of tears. But there's no room for crying at the front of the classroom.