I was in Brooklyn attending a family wedding when the news came through that Brett Kavanaugh was to be confirmed as a Supreme Court Judge.
My response was not (as one might expect) anguish or despair, nor was it anger or vitriol – it was something more akin to resignation.
There are a few reasons for this. Firstly, I was on holiday – caught up with wedding celebrations and far too much food and drink. Secondly, I was staying with my partner’s family, most of whom are Republicans, and all of whom had voted for Trump… at least to my knowledge. Now, I may be an outspoken, leftist, feminasty snowflake, but I’m not an arsehole. I was being offered incredible hospitality and kindness by people who have welcomed me into their family with open arms, and while I couldn’t disagree more with their politics, I wasn’t about to go mouthing off and virtue-signalling my way through every interaction. If asked, I was completely open about my position and my beliefs, but I also firmly believe that we have to be open to dialogue with the people we disagree with.
Writing off whole swathes of people based on political leanings solves nothing, and if there’s one thing that the Left is guilty of, it’s of claiming moral superiority over the Right and ‘cancelling’ those who don’t toe the line. I have some serious problems with this, but that’s for another blog…
Back to Kavanaugh.
The main reason for my lack of any real visceral reaction to the news of Kavanaugh’s confirmation was that I saw it coming. I knew that nothing – not the hearing, not Ford’s testimony, not even the FBI investigation – would make a blind bit of difference. And that’s a really depressing position to be in.
I’d hoped that I was wrong. Fuck me, had I hoped! I held on to the scrap of hope that in a #MeToo world we might finally be starting to believe women; that a woman’s experience might actually count for something; that we might be prepared to hold a man accountable for his actions…
But hope is the thing with feathers. It’s also a bit of a wanker.
Now here we are – a man accused of sexual assault, a man who does not believe in a woman’s right to choose, a man so clearly lacking the temperament and neutrality required for the position has been given a lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court. Proof, if proof were needed, that accusations of sexual assault do not, in fact, ruin (rich white) men’s lives. Quite the opposite – the accused is bestowed with one of the highest honours in the land, while the accuser is openly mocked by the President of the United States. And people ask why survivors don’t come forward…
And if you’re thinking that I sound a bit, I don’t know, angry about this, then you’d be correct.
Since arriving home from the States I’ve had some time to process events, and the utter horror of what’s transpired has seeped in to my pores and caused my blood to boil.
Let me explain.
Kavanaugh was not the only option the Republicans had for Supreme Court nominee. If all Trump wanted was to lay the groundwork for overturning Roe vs Wade, then there were plenty of other people he could have chosen. Instead, he doubled-down on a candidate who, much like himself, had been accused, quite credibly, of sexual assault and who should – by every conceivable measure of decency – be ruled out at that point. Plenty more anti-choice fish in the sea.
Now, if your response to that statement is, “what happened to innocent until proven guilty?”, then I say to you, sure – in criminal proceedings. If Kavanaugh were on trial for sexually assaulting Christine Blasey Ford and was facing the possibility of jail time for his actions, then he should absolutely be given the benefit of the doubt. But Kavanaugh was not on trial. He faced no legal consequence for his actions – the worst that could have happened to him was that he didn’t get the job he wanted. He would still have been a judge. His life would not have been ruined. Contenders for high office have to be held to a higher standard than ‘innocent until proven guilty’; they have to be beyond reproach.
Therefore, Kavanaugh’s appointment shows us one of three things:
Those in power did not believe Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony;
Those in power believed Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony, but did not care; or
Those in power believed Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony and proceeded to vote ‘Yes’ for Kavanaugh as a “FUCK YOU” to the Me Too movement and to women in general.
The first option is both depressing and infuriating, but is nevertheless a viable possibility within the ‘he said / she said’ framework of the hearing. The second two options, however, indicate a far darker political landscape and speak of patriarchal indifference to female suffering (at best), and malicious desperation to cling to power at all costs.
I believe that these men are threatened. I believe that the sneering contempt aimed at those who speak up is the act of a cornered animal bearing its teeth. I believe that this is what happens when women ‘step out of line’ by daring to own their experiences and their anger – they are mocked, they are delegitimised, and they are attacked.
And the only option – the only possible response to this – is to keep fighting.
The one benefit of being damned if you do and damned if you don’t is that you might as well say “fuck it” and DO. When the alternative is sitting back and taking it, why wouldn’t you stand up and fight with all you have?
Commit acts of civil disobedience.
Do everything in your power to challenge those who seek to silence you.
Because those men and their enablers aren’t going away any time soon. But neither are we.
Article by VERVE "She Said" Contributor Sarah Bradnum