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Lawyers of San Diego is a specialty bar association committed to advancing the status of women in the law and society. We use this space to share articles written about Lawyers Club events and programs and items of interest to our members which are relevant to our mission. The opinions outlined in content published on the Lawyers Club of San Diego blog are those of the authors and not of Lawyers Club. All members are encouraged to participate respectfully in discussions regarding the topics posted on the blog. Guest writers are welcome.

 

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A Roadmap for Balancing LGBTQ+ Protections with Religious Freedom

Posted By by Tristan Higgins for Lawyers Club's LGBTQ Committee, Tuesday, February 19, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, February 19, 2019

At Thomas Jefferson School of Law’s 19th Annual Women and the Law Conference, The Way Forward: Gender, LGBTQIA Rights, and Religious Liberties, on February 1, 2019, the Ruth Bader Ginsburg Lecturer was former EEOC Commissioner Chai Feldblum. Feldblum was raised an Orthodox Jew, but at 18 lost her faith. She is also a “practicing lesbian” and joked that she would like to continue “practicing for as long as possible.”


To Feldblum, there are two important, and sometimes conflicting, principles in the workplace: 1) to ensure religious liberty in both religious practice and pluralism, and 2) that everyone has the right to live an honest life, free from discrimination and harassment. Feldblum encouraged us to engage in this discussion with a “generosity of spirit,” regardless of the emotions invoked.


She laid out four “locations” that justify different outcomes for LGBTQ+ employee protection and religious freedom:

  1. Individuals seeking protection in the public sector from an employer’s requirement [e.g., an employer bans any head coverings and an employee wants to wear a hijab at work];
  2. Religious individuals who provide a service to the public seeking an exemption [e.g., a baker asserts religious beliefs as the basis for refusing to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple];
  3. Religious institutions seeking an exemption [e.g., the Catholic church refusing to hire a trans priest]; and,
  4. Institutions controlled by a religious institution or beliefs [e.g., a Yeshiva Day Camp denying admission to Christian children].

In the first location, the employer should accommodate the employee’s request for an exception to the employer’s requirement as long as it does not place an undue burden on the employer. If the employee can still get their work done, why shouldn’t the employer grant a religious exemption? That said, this protection for the religious employee does not grant that same employee license to harass, say, LGBTQ+ employees at work—because the religious person’s right to free speech does not outweigh the LGBTQ+ person’s right to be free from harassment.


In the second location, Feldblum argues that the balance should be in favor of the LGBTQ+ individual. It is key to our society that people are free from harassment and discrimination. It is not enough to tell the LGBTQ+ individual to go to another bakery. Rather, if the baker works in a bakery that is open to the public, they should bake the cake regardless of their religious beliefs. Feldblum commented that if the baker worked in a bakery with 50 employees (instead of only a handful), perhaps that employee could be excused from baking such cakes. The LGBTQ+ couple need never know there was an issue. A balance can, and should, be struck.


It is not controversial that a religious institution be allowed to select only ministers, priests, rabbis, and imams that embrace the tenants of its religion. It is crucial to that religious organization that it be allowed to pass on its teachings unobstructed by anti-discrimination laws. This need outweighs my need as a lesbian to serve as a minister in a church that believes being a lesbian is a sin.


The last location is tricky. Feldblum argues that if that location wants to discriminate, it needs to be consistent. For the Yeshiva Day Camp to keep out a Christian child, they need to only allow Jewish children, and employ only Jewish employees. If their religious beliefs are so crucial to them that they cannot allow a Christian child to attend, they better mean it and prove it with consistency.


As a member of the LGBTQ+ community and an atheist with a long and storied background in religion, I very much appreciate the framework that Feldblum set forth. Members of both the LGBTQ+ and faith communities need to understand that a balance must be struck between, for example, my right to be a proud lesbian free from harassment and discrimination and my friend’s right to practice and celebrate sincerely held religious beliefs. The balance will not always be the same, but if we discuss these issues with a generosity of spirit and profound respect for each other, we can work to create an equilibrium.


Editor’s Note: Feldblum explains the concepts summarized above, and more, in her recent post, which you can read here: What I Really Believe About Religious Liberty and LGBT Rights.


Tristan Higgins, who wrote this post for San Diego Lawyers Club’s LGBTQ Committee, is a seasoned lawyer specializing in diversity and inclusion speaking and consulting.

 

 

 

Tags:  Chai Feldblum  churches  discrimination  diversity  EEOC  exemptions  LGBTQ  LGBTQ+  pluralism  religious freedom  schools 

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Women of Color Reception – Recognizing Role Models for Women of Color in the Law

Posted By Elidia Dostal for Lawyers Club's Diverse Women's Committee, Wednesday, January 30, 2019

As the youngest and scrawniest of six siblings, my fast talking was my best defense. As far back as I can remember, my family told me, “You talk so much, you should be a lawyer.” So it was determined. But when I finally decided to apply to law school, I planned on going to the local law school in Sacramento. Applying to the Ivy League law schools never even occurred to me, even after I received my LSAT scores and understood that I’d scored in the top 1%. But then my coworker’s sister, a Latina who attended Cornell Law School, heard about me and insisted that I apply to the Ivy Leagues. Still I resisted, counting all the reasons I wouldn’t get in. Once she helped me understand what was possible – because she was an example – I applied to and graduated from Yale Law School. This is the power of seeing someone like you ascend to positions you had not even considered for yourself. It is the power of the Lawyers Club Diverse Women’s Committee (DWC). This is true for whatever “like you” means to you. It is important that we all have role models that we can relate to, and that we can see ourselves emulating.

Continuing DWC’s tradition of recognizing women of color in the law who are breaking barriers and serving as important role models, Janice P. Brown will be the honoree at the seventh annual Women of Color reception being held February 6, 2019. Janice P. Brown is the founding partner of Brown Law Group and is the first African American woman to serve as the Board Chair for the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation (EDC). She is an ideal leader for EDC’s inclusive growth initiative, which aims to close the minority achievement gap and equip small businesses to compete.

The Diverse Women’s Committee Women of Color reception will take place on February 6, 2019 at Procopio’s downtown office from 5:30-7:30 p.m. I will be there to learn from and be inspired by Ms. Brown. I hope you will join me.


Elidia Dostal wrote this for the Lawyers Club’s Diverse Women’s Committee, and she is an environmental and land use partner at Vanst Law—a law firm committed to changing law firm culture for the better, one attorney at a time.

 

Tags:  diversity  DWC  Janice Brown  role models  WOC  Women of Color reception 

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Turn on the Light

Posted By Guest Blogger Julie Lopez, Thursday, January 24, 2019


One in four of us experience a mental illness. We are three times more likely to suffer from depression, and have one of the highest suicide rates of all professions. If we are female, we are twice as likely to get depressed as our male counterparts. We are lawyers, and we take the required MCLE for competency. We learn that mental illness and substance abuse run rampant among us; but, we never talk about the real problem—the fact that shame and stigma often deter us from seeking treatment.


We hide the fact that we are struggling, which only prolongs our struggle. I was one of these attorneys, suffering through anxiety and depression in silence, too ashamed to seek help or even admit to myself that I was struggling. After I recovered, I saw that nothing stood in the way of my recovery but shame and fear. I share my experience here, and at the Life & Law Committee’s February 5, 2019, MCLE on competency, in an effort to bring this common struggle into the light.


I had always been an anxious person. My anxiety ratcheted up in law school, and it -skyrocketed after my son was born when I was a fifth-year attorney. Trying to balance new motherhood as a litigator felt impossible, and the self-imposed pressure to be perfect in multiple arenas was crushing. I was in a car crash shortly after returning to work from maternity leave, and my anxiety worsened. I was afraid to drive, and I couldn’t work on an auto case without having a panic attack. I did all of the things you’re supposed to do to feel better—I went to therapy, exercised every day, learned to meditate, practiced yoga, ate well, and even (gasp!) took a month off of work. But nothing helped, and I eventually spiraled down into depression.


I had never been depressed before, and it is truly a tortured despair that I would not wish on my worst enemy. I felt like checking myself into a psychiatric hospital would have been a welcomed relief, and I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t “work” my way out of it. Despite my efforts for more than a year, I just wasn’t getting better, so I made an appointment with a psychiatrist who diagnosed me with depression and anxiety disorder. I was terrified to take medication for a mental illness, but I also had to figure out a way to get better. The doctor prescribed antidepressant, and I—terrified of what it meant, but desperate for improvement—took it. And then, amazingly, I got better, and I got better pretty fast.


Looking back, I see that nothing stood in the way of my recovery but shame, and that shame robbed me of a year of my life. Shame told me that it was my fault I couldn’t “work” my way out of being depressed and get better with meditation/yoga/therapy/ exercise or whatever else you’re “supposed” to be able to do to feel better. Once I started sharing what I’d been through, I found that a LOT of other attorneys (and people in general, for that matter) struggle with all kinds of mental illnesses, and lots of other attorneys take medication to manage it.

 

Like any monster in the darkness, it isn’t scary once you turn on the light. I realized that the stigma and shame of mental illness would evaporate if everyone just stopped hiding their own struggles. And really, why do we hide it in the first place? We don’t wait a year to go to the doctor if we have a broken leg because we fear what others will think, hoping that it magically will heal if we just exercise/meditate/go to therapy/do yoga. We go to the doctor, get a cast put on, limp around for a few weeks, and then we are fine. But, if we walk around on a broken leg for a year because we fear that getting treatment for it threatens our careers, or is shameful—like we do with mental illness—that broken leg is going to start hurting pretty bad, and it will take a lot longer to heal. I think it’s time we start treating mental illness like we treat a broken leg.


Julie Lopez is co-chair of Lawyers Club’s Life & Law Committee, and partner at Tatro & Lopez, LLP, a litigation firm representing nonprofit organizations and business, and individuals who've been injured by elder abuse, medical malpractice, and auto collisions.

 



Editor’s Note: The February 5, 2019, MCLE referenced in this post, (regarding competence and mental wellness), has been POSTPONED but will take place as part of a Lawyers Club Life & Law Committee meeting. For more information and to rsvp, please contact julie@tatrolopez.com.

 

Tags:  anxiety  competency  depression  MCLE  mental illness  mental wellness  psychiatry  stress  treatment 

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March Together!

Posted By Guest Blogger Vaani Chawla, Thursday, January 17, 2019
Updated: Thursday, January 17, 2019


I remember January 21, 2017, like it was yesterday. It was an emotional day. The new president had been sworn in just the day before. I was in a fog of confusion. I was depressed and disappointed in the results of the election. But a part of me hung on to hope, thinking I could be wrong in my assessment of an administration that was just about to begin. I hoped that the new administration would be different from what was advertised—more respectful of women and other diverse groups in America. Maybe it was just a tactic the new president had used just to get elected? But I wasn’t sure.


I felt compelled to attend the Women’s March in 2017. I drove downtown to the San Diego Civic Center with my supportive husband and my little spaniel dressed in a bright pink jacket. We walked to the center and found a throng of people. There were women wearing pink hats and pink scarves. They brought their children, some of them sitting in Radio Flyer-type wagons and strollers. Their partners and significant others were with them. They held signs with slogans supporting women, immigrants, and other groups.
We stood shoulder to shoulder with one another, strangers in a crowd, but the mood was palpable. I watched a woman who had brought her two sons, about 3 and 5 years of age, and her husband with her. She stood listening to the speakers while her 3-year old played in a planter. The speakers were moving. Tears streamed down the woman’s cheeks as she stroked the hair of her 5 year-old. I felt it too.


Then finally, we began to move forward. We began to march. It felt like the emotional pressure of the moment was finally released. The crowd chanted slogans, and we began to smile. The mood had changed. We were now feeling stronger, like a cloud had been lifted. A comradery had developed among us even though we didn’t know each other.


That is what it was like for me and my family to attend the march in 2017. Imagine how much more wonderful the experience would have been if I had attended with my Lawyers Club sisters and brothers.


In a few days, we have the opportunity to do this together. We can shake off the daily onslaught of negative news, join forces, and stand up for the advancement of women. We can carry signs, chant slogans, and clearly demand equality.

The third annual Women’s March is this coming Saturday, January 19, 2019. The program starts at 10:00 a.m. with a blessing and performances. At 11:00 a.m., speeches will be delivered by inspiring leaders, and at noon, we march! Join your Lawyers Club sisters, brothers, and families at the steps of the County Administration Building, facing Pacific Highway, at 11:30 a.m. The building is located at 1600 Pacific Highway, San Diego, CA 92101. Together, we will bring #TruthToPower!


Vaani Chawla is co-chair of Lawyers Club’s Equality and Action Committee, current President of the South Asian Bar Association, founder of Chawla Law Group, APC, and provides legal representation to families and businesses in immigration matters.

 

 

Tags:  activism  advance women  Advocacy  demand equality  equality  equality&action  feminism  feminist  First amendment  now more than ever  social media  speech  united  vote  women’s advocacy  women's march 

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How Many Freakin’ Pronouns?

Posted By Ari Hornick, Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Last year, Laci Green posted How Many Freakin Genders, and How Many Freakin Genders, Part 2. If you’ve never thought about issues surrounding sex and gender, her videos are a good introduction. However, Green makes a common mistake when she says that biological sex has basically two options (male and female). To this point, scientific research has found that the genetic switches determinative of your biological sex are not binary like an on/off switch. They're more like dimmer switches with an infinite number of settings between extremes. How many freakin’ biological sexes? Possibly infinite.


Even if there were only one gender for each biological sex, there would be an infinite number of genders. If different genders use different pronouns, how many freakin’ pronouns? He and she don’t come close to covering infinity, so people have come up with a variety of first person, singular pronouns to fill the gap. There is some resistance to the new pronouns, but remember, we learned how to say “Ms.” We learned to say “African-American.” If a friend changes their name when they get married or divorced, we adapt to the new name. If we know a judge personally, we don’t forget to call them “your honor” in court. We can definitely learn which pronouns people use.


How do you know which pronouns a person uses? They tell you. Until then, stick with gender neutral pronouns. Perhaps the easiest path is to start with the familiar: Use “they” as a singular pronoun. “They” has been both singular and plural (like “you”) since, at least, Chaucer, and we still use it that way. (See e.g. “If a friend changes their name…”). If you don’t want to take my word for it, check out the Motivated Grammar post “Singular ‘they’” or Grammar Girl’s “Gender-Neutral Pronouns” and “Singular ‘They’.”


How do you tell someone which pronouns you use? It’s easy to insert this into your introduction, “I’m Ari—they, them—nice to meet you.” Include your pronouns in your signature block. My signature block says “Pronouns: they, them, their” right below my phone number. If someone uses an incorrect pronoun for you, just give a mild, matter of fact correction as you would if someone used an incorrect pronoun for your pet. “I use they.” If the person looks confused, follow up with “not she” or “not he” as the case may be.


What if you say the wrong pronoun by accident? Don’t freak out. Correct yourself, or accept the correction, in a mild, matter-of-fact tone, and move on. For example, “…she—I mean they—…” The key is to be respectful.


To make your pronouns known, the convention is to list them in the following order: subject, object, possessive, possessive pronoun, reflexive. “I’m Ari—they, them, their, theirs, themself.” You don’t have to list all five all the time, but do include any nonstandard parts. “I’m Ari—they, them” is sufficient, but “I’m Ari—phe, phe, phes” (pronunciation: fē, fē, fēz). I would stop there because the listener will probably assume the last two correctly (phes, pheself).


An easy way to be an ally is to include pronouns in your introduction and signature block even if you’re cisgender. This will help everyone feel more comfortable asserting their pronouns, and you’ll be less likely to use an incorrect pronoun if everyone includes them in their introductions and signature blocks. Win-win.

 

Ari Hornick, who wrote this for San Diego Lawyers Club’s LGBTQ Committee, is an ethics attorney in downtown San Diego.

 

Tags:  binary gender  cisgender  gender  introductions  LGBTQ  pronouns  signature blocks  trans 

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Inviting the outsider in | Empathy helps you help your clients

Posted By Guest Blogger Christy Heiskala , Tuesday, November 20, 2018
Updated: Monday, November 19, 2018

My experience working with lawyers and being a member of the Lawyers Club of San Diego entirely changed my perspective from the experience I had as a client. I parented my child through the experience of being a victim of crime in a criminal case, a plaintiff in a civil trial, and a fighter through two subsequent appeals. Over a period of eight years, I spent many hours talking to the Deputy District Attorney, talking to my attorneys, being deposed by defense attorneys, and sitting in the court room. Even though I had top-notch attorneys and mostly positive outcomes, I felt lost throughout the entire process. I have been a victim advocate for clients in both civil and criminal cases for three years now and want to share with lawyers what it feels like from a client’s perspective.

 

Clients are intimidated by you.

 
No matter how kind you are, clients are scared of you. They won’t tell you everything up front due to trauma, lack of trust, and fear of sounding stupid. People seek help from attorneys when they feel they have been wronged and their trust has been broken. Their nervous system is stuck in fight, flight, or freeze mode and they may not be thinking clearly. Help your client relax and feel more comfortable with you by letting them speak without interrupting and leave a long pause before responding. Provide helpful resources and conduct grounding exercises that will further help them.

 

Clients feel like outsiders.

 
Legalese is the equivalent of a foreign language to people outside the legal world. Every word feels like drinking from a firehose. Clients may not keep up and will be too embarrassed to say they don’t understand. Not asking for help in a foreign country can lead to costly mistakes, and the same can apply to your clients because this area is foreign to them. They may have never stepped foot into a law office or court room before, except perhaps for a day of jury duty. Your clients may have never answered interrogatories or been deposed. This adds up to a client who feels lost and unsure of themselves and can lead to misunderstandings.
You can help by losing the formalities when possible. Meeting rooms should be warm and inviting. Save the suit for court. Talk slower and lose the legalese. Instruct them about the process in a manner you would give directions to a visitor without a map.


To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world.

 
You do this work daily and might be working on twenty cases at a time; but (hopefully), this is your client’s one and only case. Clients do not realize how long the process takes, how much time lapses in between the different stages of litigation, and how much work is expected of them. When court dates change, that is a normal workday for you—but your client has been planning their entire life around the court date (arranging childcare, making travel arrangements, and requesting days off work in advance). Inevitable court changes can be financially burdensome and make a client become uncooperative.


As the best lawyers know, little actions can go a long way. Help clients feel validated by being mindful not to rush them off the phone or use template correspondence. Check in with them often and offer to revisit how the process works and what the next steps will be. Make sure they know in advance that court dates can change at the last minute, acknowledge how much of an inconvenience it may be, and ask how you can help.

Christy Heiskala is co-chair of San Diego Lawyers Club’s Human Trafficking Collaborative Community Sub-Committee, she provides civil litigation victim support, and volunteers for the Center for Community Solutions as a SART advocate.

 

Tags:  client  client management  client perspective  client treatment  intimidation  lawyering  mindfulness  victim advocacy 

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Lawyers Club asks CA State Bar to adopt provisions to facilitate the practice of law by military spouse attorneys in CA

Posted By Lawyers Club of San Diego President Danna Cotman, Friday, November 9, 2018
Updated: Thursday, November 8, 2018

Lawyers Club encouraged The State Bar of California to adopt provisions so that military spouses can practice law in California without limitations that disadvantage them in the hiring process. Read our letter to the Special Admissions office.



Download File (PDF)

Tags:  career  demand equality  easelicensingburden  law  legal profession  mentorship  milspouse  milspouseJD  notanotherbarexam  provisionallicense  servicemember  StateBarCA  supportmilitaryfamilies 

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California Mandates Female Representation on Public Company Boards

Posted By Jen Rubin, Wednesday, November 7, 2018

On September 30, 2018, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law the nation’s first gender mandate for female representation on public company boards. The law requires public companies headquartered in California (as reported in the company’s 10k) to attain certain minimal gender thresholds by the end of 2019.

In his signing statement, Governor Brown noted, “given all the special privileges that corporations have enjoyed for so long, it is high time that corporate boards include the people who constitute half the persons in America.” He also copied the Senate Judiciary Committee on his signing statement, noting that recent events in Washington DC and beyond made clear that “many were not getting the message.”

Of course, the message is that given the important role women play in society, they should naturally occupy some of the highest positions available in corporate America – seats literally at the tables of public company boards.

The new law is not without challenges. Categorizing individuals based on protected characteristics, such as gender, must withstand the “strict scrutiny” constitutional test which requires the government to demonstrate that no other method is readily available to address a social harm and the law is as narrowly tailored as possible to remedy that harm. Whether this law will pass constitutional muster remains to be seen.

The quotas inherent in the new law have also triggered debate regarding whether legislation is the best (or only) solution to the board representation problem that appears to plague corporate America. But the reality is that women may not be considered for board positions because the recruiters for those positions may not look in places that produce female candidates. The law requires public company boards to look harder for qualified candidates.

Another debatable aspect of the new law is its impact on shareholders’ decisions concerning who runs their companies. But, that argument underscores the existence of de facto institutionalized prejudice. Candidates for board seats on public companies are expected to possess operational experience (in business and finance), real-world company leadership experience at an elevated level, and a special or unique industry expertise that will enhance the business’ value. With so many opportunities to obtain that kind of experience historically foreclosed to women, someone had to make the first move because the problem wasn’t solving itself.

Here, again, #MeToo may have tipped the scales. It is common knowledge that gender-diverse boards (and management teams) have a salutary impact on professional and civil behavior in workplaces, which in turn result in lower incidents of harassment and other sexually-based workplace behaviors. Other data suggests that boards with gender diversity make companies both more productive and profitable.

Whether California’s legislative solution to the lack of gender diversity on public company boards will survive legal challenge remains to be seen. In the meantime, the gender mandate for boards is an important attempt to craft a legislative solution to this issue.


Jen Rubin co-chairs San Diego Lawyers Club’s Sexual Harassment Task Force, she is a partner with Mintz practicing employment law, and she advises boards of directors on a variety of employment and gender-related issues.

 

Tags:  California  corporate boards  gender mandate  Governor Jerry Brown  MeToo  public company boards 

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#WhyIDidntReport

Posted By Jenn French, Tuesday, October 30, 2018

A few weeks ago, the President of the United States mocked Dr. Christine Blasey Ford on his Twitter feed. In response, women throughout the country began to share their #WhyIDidntReport stories. Padma Lakshmi courageously shared her story in the New York Times. I shared mine too, on Twitter and Instagram. And nearly every single woman I know chimed in with #MeToo, with stories ranging from sexual assault to gender discrimination. I wish I could tell you this was my only #MeToo experience.

In the early months of 1999, I had just returned back to campus after winter break. I was newly single, having just broke up with my first “real” boyfriend in college, and the first person with whom I’d had sexual intercourse. I was briefly living in what we called a “single double” - my roommate had moved out the previous semester and my new roommate had not yet moved in. Ironically, I lived next door to the resident advisor.

I don’t remember much about that night. I know it was cold, and I’m pretty sure there was snow on the ground. I remember walking across campus to a fraternity house with two male friends. I know that I drank a lot that night. I was trying to hang with the guys, and my newly-single-self wanted to have fun. I’d met my ex-boyfriend in the first few weeks of college, so this was the first time I felt like I could really let loose. I was a “high functioning drinker” – I didn’t slur my words and stayed reasonably coherent, which meant that my friends often didn’t realize how drunk I really was.

One of the guys I was with that night was not drinking at the party. I had met him a few times but didn’t know him well. Due to the passage of time, and the alcohol I had consumed, I am hazy on the details. (This is a blessing and a curse.) What I do know is that he walked me back to my dorm room, just the two of us. I remember snapshots of what happened next. The blasting heat in my Wisconsin dorm room in sharp contrast to the cold winter air blowing in from the slightly open window. Trying to explain that I didn’t want to have sex. That I’d only done it with one person. I remember him telling me that it was okay. Everything was okay. He was a nice guy. We were friends. We were just having fun. What I don’t remember is whether he used a condom. I hate that I can’t remember this detail.

The next day I woke up confused and sore. I couldn’t understand why I would have had sex with him. It wasn’t in my character, but I was so drunk. I barely remembered the walk back to my dorm room. I don’t remember using my key to open the door. I don’t remember ever consenting, and I know today that I was too drunk to be legally capable of consent.

I went to a very small school, and within twenty-four hours, everyone knew what had happened. A “friend” I had met through my ex-boyfriend started rumors about me. She told everyone about what happened with this man and called me a slut. I was mortified and ashamed. But the worst part is that I believed her. I thought it was my fault. I was drunk. No one forced me to drink. We went to a party together. I assumed that I let him into my room, although I didn’t remember.

I didn’t tell a soul about what really happened. I ended up transferring to a different school and becoming a bartender, which opened me up to a whole other world of sexual harassment and assault. In late 2002, I finally sought therapy. I am forever grateful to my counselor, Lynn, for helping me see, for the first time, that it wasn’t my fault. I didn’t consent.

I was raped.

Why didn’t I report what happened to me? Surely this is a rhetorical question after the confirmation of sexual predator Brett Kavanaugh to our nation’s highest court. I was drunk, he was sober. I didn’t remember the details. I couldn’t tell you the exact date that it happened. I don’t even remember his last name. People saw us leave together and “I seemed fine.” And before I had a chance to think about reporting, everyone already heard a different version of the story: that I was a slut who wanted it to happen.

Why didn’t I report what happened to me? I knew that no one would believe me.

When I shared my story on social media, a well-meaning male friend commented that I could still report; even though the statute of limitations had run out, at least the man who raped me would have that on his record. This is something I never would have considered before Dr. Ford’s testimony, and something that I would never consider after the hearing. I went to college in a small town in Wisconsin. I can only imagine the jeering questions I’d get calling from California to report a 19-year-old sexual assault.

Like many women, I am shaking with anger at the outcome of this nomination process. I am outraged by the women, like Senator Susan Collins, who continue to prop up the patriarchy. These women enable sexual predators by saying things like, “boys will be boys” and “she must be confused, poor thing.” I am furious that 50 senators voted yes for a man who lied under oath, who was credibly accused of assaulting several women, whose demeanor revealed that he is objectively unfit to hold judicial office. And I am furious that those in power pushed this nomination through in record time with the specific intent to circumvent the November 6th election and to prevent Americans from weighing in on this crucial nomination—especially after what happened with Chief Judge Merrick Garland’s nomination. The hypocrisy is astounding and infuriating.

Here’s one thing I know for sure: I’m glad that I finally shared my story. I’m not sorry that I did so, even though it didn’t prevent the confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh. I feel free, I feel lighter. And I feel solidarity with so many of my sisters who shared their stories and all those who are still too afraid to do so. I know that our conversations are not in vain, and I hope that, through these conversations, we can change this culture of toxic masculinity so that our daughters can say #NotMe, instead of #MeToo.

To my fellow survivors: I see you. I hear you. I believe you. You are not alone. And we will take back our government from those who believe that women’s lives are not as valuable as men’s lives. Please make sure that you are registered to vote, and vote for pro-choice candidates who will fight for equality on November 6, 2018. And after you’ve taken the time for self-care, please join us as we Demand Equality. The Women’s Advocacy and Reproductive Justice Committees provide excellent opportunities to channel your rage and disappointment into action.

Jenn French owns her own practice focused on civil litigation and handles pro-bono asylum cases through Casa Cornelia Law Center and co-chairs San Diego Lawyers Club’s Reproductive Justice Committee with Brigid Campo.

 

Tags:  Christine Blasey Ford  demand equality  Kavanaugh  MeToo  rape  reporting  reproductive justice  senate  sexual assault  Supreme Court  survivor  whyIdidntreport  women’s advocacy 

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Lawyers Club Demands Equality on the Bench

Posted By Lawyers Club of San Diego, Friday, October 19, 2018
Updated: Friday, October 19, 2018

On September 30th, Governor Brown signed a bill written by San Diego Congresswoman and California's Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins {hyperlink to http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-ca-governor-women-corporate-boards-20180930-story.html} that requires corporate boards of directors to include women. We've lodged our own demand from San Diego in the form of a demand for equality on the bench. Please see this letter we sent to Governor Jerry Brown last month, and consider how you are joining us in demanding equality! 

 


Tags:  appointments  bench  equality  Governor Brown  judge 

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