The Not-so-Honorable Judge Presiding


Taylor Talcott, Assistant Editor

October 6th, 2018. Remember this date. That is the day women were told they don’t matter in
politics. Kavanaugh’s confirmation only serves as yet another reminder that sexual assault
victims are systematically and unequivocally discriminated against. Women’s experiences all
over the country, the world even, were invalidated with a single decision.
After a long battle and deeply emotional confirmation hearing, despite countless
protestors and organized opposition, Kavanaugh was confirmed with the razor-thin margin of 50
votes to 48. Kavanaugh’s confirmation was opposed from its beginning as Democrats rallied
against the Republican appointment, citing the injustice in denying Obama’s nominee years
before and endeavoring to maintain women’s right to privacy as well as protect against executive
abuse of power. However, tensions were greatly heightened as Christine Blasey Ford’s
allegations of sexual assault surfaced, calling in to question Kavanaugh’s fitness to serve as a
Supreme Court Justice.
Overcoming significant Republican opposition, Dr. Ford was allowed to testify, and her
poised yet deeply intimate testimony revealed how the drunken actions of Brett Kavanaugh in
the 1980’s forever changed her life. Women across the country wept in solidarity, their shared
trauma binding them in opposition. Even those who fought her speaking in front of the senators
found her testimony “very compelling” and “believable.” Yet when Kavanaugh took the stand,
he delivered an emotional and dogged account of his own. Even when elements of his testimony
rambled into incoherence, Kavanaugh’s words were mostly well-received by the public.
However, the vote was postponed pending an FBI investigation following Senator Jeff Flake’s
poignant encounter with several victims. The investigation lasted barely a week and was lacking,
leading to an ineffectual conclusion. Despite the considerable opposition and thousands in
protest, Kavanaugh was confirmed for a lifetime seat on the Supreme Court.
Kavanaugh’s confirmation had many implications. His addition turned the Supreme
Court to a distinct conservative majority, a decision that will have lasting effects for many years.
This calls into question many issues regarding women’s rights, especially those given in Roe v.
Wade, executive privilege, and religious extension in the government. However painful the legal
and political ramifications may be, women’s rights were yet again infringed upon by the
government as sexual assault was ignored for those in power.
20 percent of women and 3 percent of men will be raped in their lifetime, and according
to RAINN. These statistics are far too high, and they almost all stem from the rape culture that
pervades our culture. Men are told to derive their identity from their sense of masculinity, told to
dominate and overpower, even when it means women are harmed as a consequence. Despite
composing an equal proportion of the population, women are not awarded equal power or equal
rights, having to instead to fight to be treated as equals. This issue hinges around sexual assault
as women are preyed upon and then after are told they are to blame or that they are living a
fantasy just for the attention. As egregious as the preponderance of sexual assault is, society’s response is practically worse. From 30 to 60 percent of women do not report their sexual assault because they believe
they are to blame or they think that no one will believe them. Women who are victims of sexual
assault are treated worse than the perpetrators, asked what they were wearing or told what they
could’ve done to prevent it that is even if they are believed. Even when convicted, men skate by
on their privilege and receive minimal sentencing and repercussions. The social stigma of being
a victim, however, will follow the woman for the rest of her life, not to mention the trauma.
There was a lot of discussion of how Dr. Ford’s experience was revealed. Why now and
not 40 years ago? How was this not just another political ploy? How and when Senator Feinstein
released the information was absolutely political in nature, designed to make the Republicans
scramble at the eleventh hour. However, all the discourse describing the nature of its release
distracted from the weight of its content. Many criticized Ford for coming forward now,
believing she only sought attention and was little more than a Democratic pawn. Yet, they failed
to ask what could she have possibly gained from coming forward. What good could come to her
personally as her life and reputation were ripped apart on a national scale, as she received death
threats for coming forward, as her integrity and career were dissected? Dr. Ford came forward
because she had to. She could not reconcile a future where her assailant was given a lifetime
position of prestige and power. She was indescribably courageous. She came forward after years
of silence and faced the scrutiny and stigma of being an assault victim to challenge the system.
Even after Ford’s incredibly moving testimony, people still questioned her, citing her
accusation as one of many leading the crusade against men. False accusations are heinous and
unjustifiable, but despite purported opinion, they are not common nor are they on the rise. As
reported by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, less than 2 percent of rape
accusations are false. This is also the running rate of false accusations for any other felony, yet
when someone reports an armed robbery, they do not experience any degree of suspicion that
rivals those of sexual assault reporters. Due to the treatment of victims, women have much more
to lose and nothing to gain from coming forward, so it makes no logical sense to call an
accusation false simply because it is inconvenient.
Accusations are also often discounted by those saying “it was a long time ago” or “this
will ruin his life forever,” yet while they all fail to account for one thing: the victim. For her, it is
not a long time ago but every time she closes her eyes; the memory will never leave her, and it
will take years of therapy to even just cope with the trauma. Her life is already changed forever
because of that “one moment.” Yet, when she speaks up, it is all about how the accusations will
shape his life, disregarding the fact that they already define hers.
Additionally, being accused of sexual assault, or even being convicted, does not ruin a
man’s life. Just take a look at the men in power. Judge Kavanaugh, the man who cried about how
his life, his reputation would never be the same, now holds a lifetime position of the most
prestigious value. President Trump, the man on tape admitting to harassing women and accused
by several, is now the most powerful man in the country, quite possibly the world. The hundreds unearthed by the #MeToo movement have been minimally prosecuted, many retained their jobs,
and those who didn’t often received enormous payouts. The list goes on. . .
Sexual assault is a horrifying epidemic in our country, yet it is normalized, even
scrutinized by society. Brett Kavanaugh is the epitome of what male privilege can get you: a free
pass to act without impunity. The prevalence of sexual assault and how we treat victims is
symptomatic of a much larger societal disregard of women. In order to balance the scale, there
must be a change in how we regard sexual assault. It is not just this one case but many. To me
and to many others, Kavanaugh will never be the “honorable” judge presiding.