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I am tired. I am only 20 years old, but I am tired of the way women are treated by men in this country. Whether these men are senators, judges, managers, bosses or the President of the United States, it appears men––especially those in power––continually get away with taking advantage of women.
After watching the Ford-Kavanaugh hearing, some things became abundantly clear to me. No matter how poised, respectful and well-spoken a woman is, she will not be taken seriously when up against a man. Dr. Christine Blasey Ford is a highly educated and intelligent woman, which she made clear during her testimony. Brett Kavanaugh is also well-educated and has a strong record of cases he has tried in the court system.
It is a tale, literally, as old as time for women. I remember during the 2016 Presidential election when critiques demonized Hillary Clinton for her demeanor, appearance and cadence. Daily on the news, men interview women and make light-hearted comments that are clearly sexist and condescending while the women look down and laugh it off, rather than start a fuss.
During Kavanaugh’s testimony, he came off as an angry, entitled and disrespectful child. He interrupted senators and asked condescending questions rather than answer the questions they were supposed to ask. He called for revenge on Democrats who he alleges set all of this up in an elaborate smear campaign. He was volatile and contentious, speaking almost incoherently of beers, weight-lifting and hanging out with his friends in high school, all in good clean fun of course.
If we look past his sloppy answers to what were clearly sexual innuendos in his 1982 high school yearbook page, or his vague answers to whether or not he ever drank too much in high school, there were bigger problems in Kavanaugh’s testimony.
To me and so many other women, Kavanaugh’s testimony only reinforced what we already knew about how insidious rape culture can be. I wonder if Kavanaugh actually did these things, but just doesn’t see a problem with his actions. Rape culture entails that degree of confusion with what is acceptable to do to women without their consent and what isn’t. What is “just joking around?” After all, she wasn’t raped. She wasn’t beaten or physically harmed in her account of what happened. So what’s the big deal?
Any physical contact with a human body, female or male, without consent is unacceptable.
One of the most powerful moments of Ford’s testimony was when she told senators what her strongest memory from the assault was that haunts her to this day. It was their laughter. The laughter between Kavanaugh and his friends as she screamed and tried to get away from them.
I remember the flushed red faces of girls in my middle school, when boys would grab them inappropriately in the hallways and laugh about it with their friends later. I remember the boys in high school, putting my name in sexual songs and singing the words while holding eye contact with me even though I was clearly uncomfortable. They also laughed. I remember overhearing boys at frat parties boast about their sexual conquests and calling certain girls who frequented their frat more than others derogatory names. So much laughter.
I will remember when so many people I know jumped to Kavanaugh’s defense. Whether or not they believed Ford’s testimony, it didn’t seem to matter. The narrative shining through is that women are simply less reliable than men to tell the truth. A man with a record like Kavanaugh’s couldn’t have done these things. Even if he did, it was 36 years ago, and he is a good person now. These allegations shouldn’t taint his ability to serve on the Supreme Court.
I do not accept these lazy excuses for his behavior. I do not accept that Republicans are only giving the FBI one week to conduct an investigation into these allegations. I do not accept that Republicans refuse to subpoena Mark Judge, a key witness in this case, to testify before voting on Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court.
I believe Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, and I am tired of seeing so many survivors of sexual assault silenced after being brave enough to stand up to their abuser. Especially when that abuser is a man in a position of power.