Noise: An Open Letter to Dr. Blasey Ford
The transformation of silence into language and action is an act of self-revelation
– Audre Lorde
To Dr. Blasey Ford,
Its my first day.
My mom joins the queue of parents in the school drop off circle. I tune into the sounds of doors opening and closing, mild horns, and the abrupt start and stop of cars. I am jolted back to reality by a plump Black man urging me to get out of the car. Of course, I am holding up the line. So I join the hustle of girls eager to start the new year. I, a new Holton girl in my navy and white plaid skirt that’s too long. This was a new space; a new home. A beginning that I so desperately needed. That day I joined a class of 84 bonded by a shared experience another collective in a sisterhood started in 1901.
Today, as I think about you Dr. Blasey Ford, I am reminded of my first day; of the sheer support and love I felt as a new girl. So I write this letter to you, to remind you that you are loved by many. The decision you made to tell your story was a difficult one. We live in a country so polarized that we have lost sight of what is wrong and what is right. We have lost sight of what is human. We no longer know what it means to care for each other beyond who we know.
Yesterday, I was struck by a thought. A woman experiences assault as a child and is forced to come to terms with it in silence. She continues to live her life accomplishing everything she set her mind to but still that experience lives with her. It has built a home in a small part of her mind. It lives in her heart adding weight to her spirit. It has become apart of her and even when the days seem to get better and the experience a distant memory, something happens. Her attacker is no longer far away. He is on tv, in magazines, in newspapers injecting himself into her life without even knowing it. He is there.
I am struck by people who continue to ask why tell your story now? My response is why not. A man who will assume one of the highest positions in this country making decisions that will not just affect himself or his family but decisions that will affect you. He will be there. Making the memory of what happened more present. No longer a backdrop in your mind that violation takes center stage. It threatens to consume you, eating away at the life you have built for yourself.
But they want you to be silent. To continue to suffer under the weight of a violent memory alone. Today, I want to remind you that you are all woman, all strength, all beauty, all power, all courage. You walk with the spirit of those women who came before you. They are there with you, protecting you, watching over you.
Know that even if he becomes a justice, you have not lost.
Dr. Blasey Ford, people are listening. They are forced to reckon with your story and understand that it isn’t the only one. That there are thousands of women and young girls across the country suffering in silence, living with the pain of being violated, and trapped in their own bodies.
Yesterday, I was told that all you are doing is making noise. Noise like the opposite of silence. I imagine screeching and high pitches. Noise. I imagine disruption. Disrupt. Noise. We are uncomfortable when marginalized bodies speak. It is noise. We are uncomfortable with the lucid cries of women who tell stories of rape, assault, and abuse. It is noise. We must continue to make people uncomfortable.
Be noisy. I say continue to speak. Speak loud. Be louder. There are girls who read your story and felt the strength to come forward about an assault. They understood that what happened to them wasn’t their fault. That their voices are their own and theirs alone to be used when and where they are ready. The noise, the speaking, the disruption is less about the attacker and everything to do with the victim. You speak for yourself, for your own healing. Releasing truth to a world unable to grapple with reality. A world so crippled by political ideologies that it has lost sight of love.
Today I imagine the hearing being something like a dark den of men ready to reduce your voice to screeching. They will attempt to make you small, to silence you. But speak loud; make noise. Disrupt. Make them uncomfortable. Hopefully your story continues a future of truth telling; of noise.
As I write, I look at the silver ring on my right hand. It centers me. I wonder if you still have yours. I am reminded of a quote that hung in Dr. Wulf’s classroom in big black letters. I remember those words like I was just sitting in her room yesterday. It reads “well behaved women seldom make history”. They don’t. The history makers are all noise.
A Holton Sister
Find A Way or Make One