by Evi Arthur
As a woman, I like to think America has come a long way from where we once used to be. I am allowed to drive and have a credit card. I can own property and hold office if I so choose. Believing that I am better off than I would have been in the ‘60s makes going out into the world a little easier and makes me feel like I might not have all that much work to do after all.
But, as a student of women’s and gender studies, I know that we still have a long way to go. Nothing has made this clearer than Brett Kavanaugh’s hearings to be confirmed for the supreme court.
Assault has been seen as a “women’s issue” for centuries, something women are responsible for preventing and fixing. We are told to watch our drinks at parties so as not to be drugged, told not to walk alone at night so as not to be assaulted. We are told to dress modestly so as not to become the victim of a terrible crime.
But we don’t tell our young men not to rape. Although ten percent of men become victims of sexual assault and rape sometime in their lives, they are still the largest perpetrators of these crimes, according to the The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN).
And when those young men decide that they want to become Supreme Court Justices, Republican senators want to let them. They pat the assaulters on the back for their bravery and their charm. They apologize for putting them through the gauntlet and putting them through hell, even when there are women testifying that they were assaulted by that young man.
At one point during the hearing on Sept. 27, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) exploded with rage and raised his voice at his fellow senators, expressing his sympathy for Kavanaugh. “I cannot imagine what you and your family have gone through… I hope the American people can see through this sham,” Graham said, according to CNN.
America’s hatred of women becomes particularly obvious at times like these.
When Christine Blasey Ford came forward with an allegation against Kavanaugh, many were quick to call her a liar. A hacked email and death threats were soon to follow after that, forcing her and her family to have to leave their home for their own safety, according to The Washington Post.
No person would risk all of that for a lie. No mother would risk her children’s lives only to testify in front of Congress with a lie. No woman would willingly step into the light with such an accusation if it were not true, because we know how poorly survivors of assault are treated in this country.
Yet, it was Ford who was treated as the one on trial by some senators, not Kavanaugh.
Senator Graham’s outburst, and others like his from other republican senators, although startling, was unsurprising. Women who come forward against powerful men are demonized and villainized. They are harassed and called attention-seeking liars.
Women who come forward are very rarely taken seriously. However, with one in three women being victims of sexual violence at some point in their lives, it is far more plausible that they are telling the truth.
The United States’ hatred of women is the only possible explanation for this. The only possible explanation for a country that punishes the women that come forward with their trauma, that calls them deceitful and victimizes the one cause of their pain. The only possible explanation for someone like Brett Kavanaugh to even be considered for the Supreme Court after three women accusing him of assault and misconduct and Dr. Ford’s own powerful testimony.
The only possible reason why Anita Hill had to watch history repeat itself this week.