Women are speaking, it’s time to listen

This article was previously published by the Loyolan in October 2018 and can be found here. 

The #MeToo movement has challenged our society over the past year to do better, and now it’s the U.S. Senate’s turn to be tested. Once again, a Supreme Court nominee has been accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women — yes, it’s happened before, and he’s still on the court — but will the Senate make that mistake again?

I, among millions, watched last week as Dr. Christine Blasey Ford showed nothing but strength, courage and intelligence as she explained in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the world her most vivid memories of a teenage Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulting her. The committee voted to confirm him 11 to 10 (Republicans to Democrats) the next day.

But we should all be relieved because the FBI is on the case *cue millions of women’s eyes rolling*.

If you thought this investigation was going to seek the whole truth, you’re sadly mistaken. If you’ve been following this story, you’re likely not surprised. It has been reported that the White House and Republican lawmakers have controlled what the FBI is able to investigate. In response to backlash, Trump recently said the FBI can speak with anyone Republican lawmakers deem acceptable. It seems that the White House’s goal is to minimize further “trauma” to Kavanaugh, as Trump described it, rather than seek a full understanding of events. Yesterday at a rally Trump mocked Ford’s allegations and said that these allegations have put Kavanaugh’s life in tatters and that we need to “think of our sons.” But when will we think of our daughters?  One in three women experience sexual violence in their lifetime, 1 in 4 before they are 18, reported by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.

This may be traumatic for Kavanaugh — having your high school and college indiscretions made public doesn’t seem enjoyable. However, what the women allege he did to them has sat with them for over 30 years and, make no mistake, has changed their lives; it was traumatic and likely still is traumatic. He wants to be on the highest court in our country and he doesn’t deserve to be if he is capable of what is described. This is worsened by his inability to take responsibility for anything. My sympathy for Kavanaugh does not run deep.

I believe Ford. Could you imagine if someone who attacked you, hurt you and stripped you of ownership of your body was going to be among the most powerful people the country, making laws that would affect millions? I couldn’t, but I absolutely wouldn’t want them there.

As a woman and sexual assault survivor, this past month has been painful. It was painful to watch Dr. Ford testify; when she said she didn’t want to be there, that she was terrified, I understood. I, along with so many others, have stories just like hers, ones I kept to myself. And maybe that is why my blood has been boiling since these accusations came out. More likely, my anger is because Republicans (majority party in both the House and Senate) have chosen to disregard accusations made against Kavanaugh. Lindsey Graham, without definite and complete knowledge about Ford’s allegations, told Kavanaugh during his hearing that he had “nothing to apologize for.”

Brett Kavanaugh may very well have many things he should be sorry for. Christine Ford explained what he should be sorry for doing to her. But because he said it didn’t happen, when truly he may just not remember, the allegations from an intelligent, composed woman are not listened to. The press has reported many of Kavanaugh’s high school and college peers having noted his typical behavior back then to have been caused by alcohol-induced belligerence.

It’s important to note that the last time a Supreme Court nominee was accused of sexual misconduct, it was a black woman who stood up first and told the world what he did, that these weren’t the actions of someone who deserved to be on the court. We didn’t listen to Anita Hill and often continue to not listen to women of color, in this space.

As women, we have to make space for ourselves in all realms of life. Women need to demand and take power in the legislature, in C-suite jobs and on the courts. Until we do, nothing will change. A Virginia Tech study found that women in leadership help decrease political corruption. Most Americans see men and women as equally fit to hold political and business positions, but we’re still a minority in both.

The U.S. Congress is predominantly old, white and male. The annual demographic profile of Congress showed it to be 80 percent white, 80 percent male and averaging an age above 50. We have been electing, appointing and confirming straight white men since our country was founded and we’ve been expecting something to change.

But this is insanity. 

Republicans have worked to discredit Ford and other accusers. They are painting them as deeply confused, political pawns or just liars rather than some of the millions of women that have been assaulted in their lifetime. Ford has said her hope was not to make justice more aligned with her views, being a registered Democrat, but to get someone on the court that was qualified; the Republicans seem to have forgotten that. But they have tied their ship to Kavanaugh and if, or when, it comes out that he lied they will have to live with being on the wrong side of this.

We have seen a record number of women run for office, and we have the chance this November to get them in positions to make a change. We have silenced women for centuries, we have locked them out of positions of power and we haven’t listened to them in this country. I hope today we finally have a collective. Enough of making victims out to be liars, enough patting men on the back and promoting them to power when multiple people make allegations of harm against them. That “enough” should mean electing women, electing liberals, electing those who will search for the truth and electing people who have also had enough.