Opinion: Time to stop protecting powerful men and demonizing victims of assault

Posted on Sep 20 2018 - 5:50am by Sue Patton-Bey

Supreme Court nominee Circuit Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation vote has been postponed in light of recent allegations of sexual misconduct. The 53-year-old has been accused by professor Christine Blasey Ford of sexual misconduct in an incident that occurred more than 30 years ago.

The Palo Alto University professor alleges that she and Kavanaugh were both at a party during which he corralled her into a bedroom and attempted to rape her. Not only has Kavanaugh denied this allegation but the only witness, Mark Judge, has chosen to stand by his childhood friend, telling the press that he had “no recollection” of the events. Some may consider this just another “he said/she said” story. Others will say there is definitely more to the incident than meets the eye.

First, I believe that it is essential not to intermingle our own personal opinions about Kavanaugh when defending Ford’s story. This isn’t the time to discuss his problematic stances on abortion, voting rights or presidential power. That doesn’t help Ford’s narrative — it actually does the opposite. Essentially, your argument would be, “I am supporting Dr. Ford, but only because I already hate the accused — not because it’s right thing to do.

Ford wrote her story in a letter sent to U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein earlier this summer in which she detailed the event that happened between her and the Supreme Court nominee back in high school. So the real question is: Why has Feinstein been silent until now?

The truth is, Ford didn’t just come up with this story last week or a couple of months ago. She has been living with the side effects of that incident for most of her life. It has affected her ability to have healthy relationships with men and has left her with PTSD.

Her request is quite simple: Have the FBI open an official investigation into Kavanaugh, and she will tell the world her story.

But that’s not what Republicans want. It is quite eerie — yet so predictable — how quickly some Republican lawmakers rushed to defend their nominee. Every tactic has been used — from U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham asking who paid for Ford’s polygraph test to Judicial Crisis Network lawyer Carrie Severino referring to the alleged assault as simple “horseplay.”

For Republicans, this isn’t just about ensuring their advantage in the judicial branch — it’s also about the subconscious defense of the “boys will be boys” mentality. Several conservative pundits have reduced the allegations to standard teenage male behavior.

Which is code for “it doesn’t matter.”

Sadly, it seems Republicans already have the votes to nominate Kavanaugh, anyway. However, they still want Ford to come forward and testify, without the investigation. We have seen this all before. In 1991, Anita Hill testified before the Senate about the alleged sexual misconduct of her then boss Clarence Thomas, but he still was appointed to the Supreme Court.

What a world we live in. Hill and Ford, two brave, educated women, have to prove their humanity to a board of people who are seemingly dedicated to protecting powerful men and demonizing victims — especially women.

They think we must have wanted it — that we should have “known better.” Believe me, I know what that’s like. Even when you are believed, you are rewarded with a lecture on what you did wrong.

We should learn from our historical mistakes — not repeat them. Ford will simply be walking into a lion’s den without the backing of the FBI. Men of power tore Hill apart in front of the world, and they will do the same to Ford. Because to them, women like Hill and Ford deserve to be humiliated, and men like Kavanaugh and Thomas deserve to sit on the highest court in the land.

Sue Patton-Bey is a senior journalism and Arabic major from Oxford.