I recognize that shaky, watery laugh, the laugh of a woman in a situation light years from funny. Yesterday, near-tears and loud anger were available to Kavanaugh; they were not available to Ford, not if she wanted to remain “credible” to that panel and to the rest of America. Her testimony was woven from deep breaths and slowly composed sentences and patience, so much patience. The only thing she was allowed to project loudly was helpfulness and an eagerness to accommodate. In contrast to the chillingly familiar image of “uproarious laughter,” there was laughter at a man’s dumb joke as a defense mechanism.


I, too, found myself laughing this week. Not because anything was funny, but because it was so far from funny. “Laugh to keep from crying” is the hoariest cliché imaginable; the phrase is so threadbare that it fails to convey that it feels like claws raking the inside of my throat. Without ever having raised my voice, it feels like I’ve spent the whole week screaming.

In the end, of course, the powerful men on the Judiciary Committee got the last laugh.