By Alex Downing
Unless you have been living under a rock for the past few months, the chances are you’ve heard the name Brett Kavanaugh. Kavanaugh is a federal judge who, in July of this year, was nominated to the Supreme Court by President Trump. Following this nomination, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, a professor and research psychologist, came forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against Judge Kavanaugh. Dr. Ford claimed that in the summer of 1982, a severely intoxicated Kavanaugh pinned her down, groped her, and attempted to remove her clothing. She even asserted that he held his hand over her mouth to silence her screams.
On Thursday, Sept. 27, Judge Kavanaugh and Dr. Ford faced off in an impassioned hearing. The testimonies jumped between a skittish yet poignant account of sexual abuse and a frenzied, chaotic defense. While both parties displayed a tremendous amount of emotion, Dr. Ford managed to maintain her dignity and conviction while Judge Kavanaugh abandoned any sense of composure.
Since this hearing, public opinion seems to be decidedly split. And one can only assume that there is a similarly divided attitude amongst the senators responsible for voting on Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation. Those in favor of him cite both the seemingly “convenient” timing of Dr. Ford’s report and the lack of conclusive evidence as pitfalls in her allegations. Many have even accused Democrats of instigating this entire ordeal as a targeted attack against the GOP. This skepticism surrounding Dr. Ford’s claims is hideously flagrant but, unfortunately, not uncommon.
Those questioning why Dr. Ford didn’t press charges some 30-odd years ago are grossly ignorant to the plight of sexual abuse survivors. She was 15 years old at the time of the incident. She was a child. Children aren’t equipped to handle the exceptional range of emotions that being sexually assaulted demands. Children have little understanding of how to initiate legal action. Children are inherently scared of getting other people in trouble. Dr. Ford likely attempted to move on and regain some sense of normalcy in her life.
I know all of this because when I was 15, I was sexually assaulted. And not unlike Judge Kavanaugh, my attacker was a popular, privileged, privately-educated boy who came from an influential family. He was well liked and outgoing, while I was a shy and easily intimidated little girl. Because of this, I never released his name to authorities.
Watching Dr. Ford give her testimony struck a very personal and profound chord within me. Yes, it rendered me mournful and empathetic, but mostly it made me mad because this country does just about everything to prove its preference of rich, white men over women and people of color except say it outright.
Judge Kavanaugh probably could have avoided the consequential revival of his actions on that night in 1982, had he not been audacious enough to enter the public eye. Dr. Ford sat idly by as she watched her attacker gain political and societal importance. She periodically confided in her friends and loved ones that his influence perturbed her, but she remained quiet. That is, until he was nominated for a position in which he would be making decisions regarding women’s bodies. Where he could help implement archaic bans on birth control and abortion. She decided to speak up not for herself, but for the benefit of women and young girls throughout the country.
I am Dr. Ford. Your mother is Dr. Ford. Your girlfriend, your sister, and maybe even you, are Dr. Ford as well. Every woman has at least one story of harassment, degradation or assault by a man, and many of us never get to tell our story. Dr. Ford is telling our story. Listen closely.