Kavanaugh and Our Fight Back
The Kavanaugh hearing has borne similar tropes to many other widely publicised sexual assault or rape cases. On one side, a woman saying something, on the other, a man saying the opposite. In the middle, a frenzy, a media mourning the perceived loss of ability to approach women without seeming like a “rapist”. Once again, people are being forced to confront and examine the power dynamics within relationships that they have previously taken for granted, or not even noticed. This case is slightly different however, given the sheer amount of power that is at stake, and the politics that prop it up.
For starters, the woman standing up is a psychology professor. Not an intern in the president’s office, not a teenager who “doesn’t remember anything” about the “promising swim star” defendant. This time, the woman in question had enough power to be taken seriously when she stood up and said “Me Too”. When she is challenged on air, being streamed to the world, as to why her memory of many details of the event is cloudy, Dr Blasey Ford can explain this by calling on research in cognitive psychology. When someone has a traumatic experience, it is stored differently in their memory to mundane events, and therefore an ordinary Tuesday three weeks ago is forgotten, while being held down on a bed by drunk teenagers trying to take off your clothes when you are 15 is remembered.
Sexual assault is not about sex. It is about power, and by standing up, Dr Ford has shown the world that women will no longer stand for this imbalance of power. When Dr Blasey Ford was 15, she had power taken away from her. The person who did that is now on the cusp of gaining a position of even greater power, which he can use to further restrict the freedom of women across the country. Upon learning of this, Dr Blasey Ford reclaimed her power. She stood up and told her story to the world. She was not “exposed”, nor were her “dirty secrets” leaked. She took control, and turned Kavanaugh’s power against him.
It is not only personal power that Dr Blasey Ford holds at this point. The politics linked to this case have been criticised, with many saying this has nothing to do with the actual assault in question, but more to do with partisan politics, and the Democrats not wanting an extra Republican on the bench. I disagree. I don’t disagree that it is political, but instead I believe it is inherently both personal and political. Dr Blasey Ford holds opposing beliefs to Kavanaugh in many key areas, and when his name was put forward for the most powerful court in the US, she felt a responsibility to her country, and to women, to reveal her painful experience. Of course she would not have done this had she agreed with his views, because, as she said herself, this is a terrifying thing to do. The whole world knows her name, her face, and where she works, and is casting judgement on her for her most traumatic experience. And yet, she stood. She stands for women worldwide, for those women unfortunate enough to live in states in the US that, day by day, are working to restrict access to free, safe, and legal abortions. She stands for every young girl who has experienced assault, who pushed it to the back of her mind because there was no way of reclaiming the power that she lost.
There is a long way to go yet. The Grand Old Party have previously made it clear that they care little for women, with their President a prime example of this. Kavanaugh has been appointed to the court anyway, with many Republicans indicating that it doesn’t matter to them whether he did it or not. However, the balance is shifting. Women are speaking out, standing up, and preparing ourselves for a long fight.