‘I was wondering whether I would just be jumping in front of a train that was headed to where it was headed anyway and that I would just be personally annihilated. ..It is painful to watch a woman caught and torn in the gears of a man’s progress. To watch the meaning of her name change into that thing that happened to her once. To watch the first sentence of her obituary get rewritten. To watch her name be linked to this man’s name (Anita, accuser of Clarence; Christine, accuser of Brett). All she asks is for the train to stop.’
- Christine Blasey Ford on whether to come forward.
Christine is a Research Professor who has accused Brett Kavanaugh, Supreme Court hopeful of sexually assaulting her in 1980 when she was 15 years old and he was 17. She alleges that at a party, Kavanaugh was ‘stumbling drunk’, he and one of his friends cornered her into a bedroom, where she was held down; he covered her mouth with one of his hands and proceeded to run his hands over her body. He attempted to take off her clothes. The force of it though, was enough for her to fear that he might unintentionally kill her.
Many view Ford as extremely brave for going against the odds. She was advised that unless there are twenty of you, don’t bother to come forward.
An emotionally shaken and highly indignant Kavanaugh denied the claims while Ford asserted that she is 100% certain of the events of that day. He claims that it is a direct attack by the Democrats in the form of an outright character assassination. Some would say that the aggression behind his response was hardly helping his case.
On the Republicans table, was a veteran Sex Crimes prosecutor Rachel Mitchell, whose interrogation was aimed at undermining Dr. Ford’s credibility while focusing on details in an attempt to find any loopholes or discrepancies in her story. She held her ground, though, and was able to rally through without being intimidated.
Not wanted to leave any room for error, the questioning was done in five-minute increments in a method thought to aid trauma victims in accurate recollection of the event in question.
Although she opted to read from her notes, Ford’s testimony was an emotional one. She spoke of haunting memories over the years arising out of this traumatic event, leading to ‘decades of shame’. How she felt compelled to speak out even in the face of violent opposition and even death threats.
The hearing itself, though, has caught the attention of many parties. Coming one year after the onset of the #MeToo Movement, it caught the attention of supporters and proved quite beneficial to the movement itself.
The infamous movement which started with the Harvey Weinstein accusations started small and grew to gargantuan proportions as more and more women started to stand up and speak out. The idea was that the more awareness raised, the greater the impact.
The magnitude of the reports, however, raised concerns about over-reporting. All women would have probably experienced some sort of violation over the course of their life. From being groped in a taxi to having some stranger reveal himself to them in a menacing way.
The definition was therefore changed to zero in on acts that were more pervasive and would have an impact on a person’s career, body, physical or mental health.
The Kavanaugh trial was seen as a much-needed uptick for the movement. It once again caused sufferers all across the country to revisit their previous experiences. It allowed women all across the country to recognize that they share similar experiences.
The #MeToo Movement has been able to accomplish significant progress in achieving true equality which would not have been possible otherwise. No longer can excuses like ‘boys will be boys’ or blaming these acts on youthful indiscretions be used as an excuse.
Indeed, it seems Kavanaugh suffered the brunt of the public shaming in this instance, as his reputation was no doubt impacted. There was no in-depth investigation into Dr. Ford’s sexual or relationship history to destroy her credibility, however, in the weeks leading up to the trial, two other accusers of gross misconduct came forward.
Debbie Ramirez, Kavanaugh’s Yale classmate alleged that he exposed his genitals to her at a party during a drinking game; and Julie Sivetnick, a 55-year-old US Treasury Department employee alleges that from 1981 to 1983, she attended parties where Kavanaugh spiked women’s’ drinks.
Please don’t mistake the purpose of this article, this is not meant to express any opinion regarding Kavanaugh’s guilt or innocence but meant to show the shift in society’s handling of these matters. A positive shift though, a change for the better.
Not too long ago, women would have been justifiably reticent about even approaching a matter like this as it would have left them open to such an extent of scrutiny as to sufficiently blur the line of who is the true victim in the wake of the accusation. Yet in this case, there wasn’t even any mention of what Ford might have been wearing, no suggestion that she might have deserved or invited it.
It’s also refreshing to note that his privilege didn’t protect or preclude Kavanaugh from being subjected to the investigation.
It came down to a one on one session where Kavanaugh was allowed to face his accuser and both parties were treated with equal rights to present their case.
There’s also get the impression that this was a ‘clean fight’ with no sideline campaigning or attempting to influence witnesses.
All these changes are in fact, quite refreshing.
Nonetheless, even as this article is being written, the news was disclosed that Kavanaugh won the vote 50/48 and will proceed to his appointment as a Supreme Court judge.
Yet, while trying not to minimize the suffering of Dr. Ford, I think this case represents a new era in the handling of these cases, a positive one, which will hopefully transcend into further progress into the treatment and handling of these cases.
Please check out my blog at Progress & Process.
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