Connie Chung’s remarkable letter

by Erik Dolson

During the aftermath of the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court confirmation hearing, retired newswoman Connie Chung wrote a remarkable letter to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford who had come forward to describe a decades old assault by Kavanaugh.

Chung empathized with Ford after Republican men on the committee, and the president, implied the assault could not have occurred as she remembered it, in effect saying: “This didn’t happen or you would have told someone at the time.”

In the letter, Chung revealed a painful truth: As a young woman, still a virgin and in college, she had been assaulted by her family doctor from whom she had asked for a prescription for birth control. While in his office, under the guise of a pelvic exam, her doctor manipulated Chung into having an orgasm. I won’t go into the details. Listen to Chung. I am in awe of her courage in writing and sharing this letter.

Chung’s experience underlines how biology underpins much of our sexual experience. Ms. Chung did not want the orgasm caused by her doctor while sitting in a gyno chair and her feet in stirrups. As a virgin and inexperienced, she would not have realized what was happening at the moment. It is also possible that at some point, biological imperatives made stopping difficult or impossible. The opiate-like, induced states of mind present during sex can be powerful if not overwhelming.

This is how species survive during drought, famine, war and disasters.

One can easily hear men  declare, “She had an orgasm, what’s she complaining about?  I guess she wasn’t feeling too violated at the time.” This mysogynistic, ignorant response is little more than hypocrisy and bigotry.

Perhaps Chung was under sway of a “respected and trusted family doctor,” one reason state medical boards are vigilant against doctors having sex with patients (disclosure: I was on the Oregon Board of Medical Examiners for four years). Perhaps Ms. Chung wanted to share her first orgasm with someone with whom she had an emotional connection. Perhaps she just wanted to pick the time and place. Perhaps she wanted to experience the freedom to have sex but also the awareness of personal denial. These she lost, and the fact is that something significant was taken from her without her consent.

Many men, those who celebrate the loss of their virginity come what may, will never understand this. Perhaps it’s our culture, perhaps it’s biology, again, given that men’s contribution to survival of the species can come from a completely different standpoint and possibly different wiring.

Certainly, many men don’t understand it now, witness comments surrounding the Kavanaugh hearing, and the slut shaming that occurred after one of Kavanaugh’s accusers was said to enjoy sex in groups and with more than one man. There are powerful and well-documented biological reasons why this is may be that woman’s preference, but it is still irrelevant.

Women are entitled to share their sexuality when and with whom they choose. They should not be condemned for doing so, nor should that be used to justify having the choice taken from them against their will. One is a gift, the other a violation.

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About Erik Dolson

Erik Dolson is a writer living in Oregon

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