Thursday, September 27, 2018

Me Too

I’ve been obsessively mesmerized by this whole ramming through charade known as the Kavanaugh "confirmation" hearings. I even got up early this morning to watch the testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. Of course, I believe Ford as well as Kavanaugh's other accusers, Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick. This whole morass has been compelling for me. It obviously strikes a deeper chord, resonating with something I haven’t wanted to think about or speak to for over fifty years.

Dr. Herbie Duber was our family doctor. In the fifties my family lived in tract housing on the East side of Cleveland. He was a neighbor who live with his wife and children just two doors away. I believe he purchased life insurance from my father but he was also a well-known physician in the Jewish Community. Looking through old photographs of parties, photos of him and his wife appear, almost always with drinks in their hands. Lots of booze, what was called then, "wife swapping" and plenty of general bawdiness were all part and parcel of my parents social life. Although Herbie was not a pediatrician, he became the default general practitioner for both me and my sister.

As a child, my mother came with me during these physical exams which happened only once a year at the most. When I grew older, my mom would sometimes not come into the room but stay outside chatting with the receptionist. I think I was about thirteen when I went for an exam now that I was a "woman." Because I started menstruating at nine years old, by thirteen I was a child in a woman's body. Nonetheless, I wasn't sure of the parameters of what a "physical" for a woman would be. So when he began pushing at my tiny breasts, I thought well breast cancer is a problem. By the time he was sticking his fingers inside me, breathing hard and asking if I had any boyfriends, I was fairly sure that most physicals didn't proceed this way. After hastily dressing and meeting up with my mom, I left his office feeling humiliated and confused.

I never told anyone until very recently. Not my mother, not my friends. I did say that I didn't like Herbie Duber and wanted a different doctor which, by then, was not a problem since he had come up in the world and was no longer lived in our neighborhood. It took a while for me to realize how far out of bounds this examination was. When the charges came out against Larry Nasser, doctor on the Olympic Committe who sexually assaulted patients, I began pondering my experience. And now, with the "Me Too" movement I have been considering the role of this incident in my young life. Dr. Duber has been dead for many years. But don't relax or get the idea that anyone is safe. Worldwide, there are millions of men like him being born every minute.