Christine Blasey Ford is the Result of a Government that has Never Cared About Sexual Assault Survivors

**Trigger Warning: This Op-Ed mentions themes of rape, sexual assault, and abuse**

Over 25 years ago, a woman by the name of Anita Hill raised her right hand and swore on the bible to tell the whole truth of how then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas sexually harassed her, in front of a Senate Judiciary Committee of entirely old white men. Questions asked to her such as “Are you a scorned woman? Do you have a militant attitude relative to the area of civil rights?” The treatment, humiliation, and embarrassment she faced were all driven by victim blaming and the fear of ruining a man’s career. Hill was a #MeToo before it became a hashtag, what she did in 1991 wasn’t just brave, but downright terrifying on her part.

27 years after Anita Hill, and in comes Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. Facing a Senate Judiciary Committee of, still, mostly old white men and having to relive one of the worst days of her life while being the center of national attention. Backlash she received wasn’t any different from Hill’s. Arguments over the significance of a sexual assault that occurred 35 years ago, questioning her legitimacy, and even going as far to say her accusation is the most “unethical sham” as Senator Lindsey Graham said.

In the midst of the #MeToo era and social media activism, there are still people that question why women don’t report sexual assault more often? Just take a look at those two hearings from two very different time periods, it’s that nothing has changed regarding our views on rape culture and valuing a man’s career over a woman’s trauma and life.

Reports from the Criminal Justice System and RAINN show that only 31% of rapes and sexual assaults are reported, and 994 out every 1,000 perpetrators will walk free. Reasons women and people say they don’t report because they fear retaliation, that the police wouldn’t do anything to help, and feel that the attack is not important enough to be heard.

This fear is years and years of carefully constructed misogyny that has forced women to be shamed into silence at the hands of powerful men. Brock Turner, a man who raped and sexually assaulted a 22-year-old woman at Stanford University was only sentenced to six months in prison by a judge (Aaron Persky) who is an alma mater of the University. Empathizing with the fact that Persky can see himself through Turner’s eyes and sympathized with the fact that he had a “promising swimming career ahead of him” and went on to say that a long prison sentence “would have a severe impact on Turner.”

Erica Kinsman, a student at Florida State University, accused Jameis Winston of rape and sexual assault in 2012. The detective that was investigating her case (Scott Angulo) said to her face “This is a huge football town. You really should think long and hard about whether you want to press charges or not.” The Tallahassee Police Department did next to nothing on this case. Kinsman was constantly bullied and shamed on social media, being called a “slut” and a “whore” while Winston went on to win the Heisman Trophy, stay at the University and the football team, and went to play for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFL.

These cases are relatively recent, meaning they didn’t happen a long time ago when women couldn’t even report incidents of sexual harassment in the workplace. But that doesn’t make Blasey Ford’s story from 35 years ago any less credible. Our justice system has the same tendencies, reactions, and actions on sexual assault cases as they did in the past with my examples from above. The Senate Judiciary Committee voting to move Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination hearing to the full Senate, refusing an FBI Investigation into Blasey Ford’s allegation, and the misogyny displayed by white male Senators such as Lindsey Graham and Chuck Grassley, is the result of a 240-year-old government never caring about sexual assault survivors.

It is proven in the lack of transparency, empathy, and representation in our Congress about an issue that has been ignored for as long as humans have been on this earth. Prosecutors have said that rape, by law, is the only crime where a credible testimony from a victim isn’t grounds to convict.

It feels as though the abuse and sexual assault of women and girls haven’t been taken seriously until recently, and even with groundbreaking events such as Blasey Ford’s testimony, it proves that we are not even close to where we need to be in terms of practicing legitimacy of rape and sexual assault cases. Even though Blasey Ford took a polygraph test proving she is truthful, sat through a grueling testimony, and proved herself to be as credible as possible, that still wasn’t enough to take down Kavanaugh once and for all and say he is unfit to serve as a Supreme Court justice.

In the era of #MeToo, a movement that is determined to speak with a loud voice on the epidemic of sexual assault and bring down powerful men who have gotten away with it for years; why isn’t it being treated the same way towards a man who is being considered for a lifetime position on the highest court in our land?

If you or a loved one has been a victim of sexual assault, call the Sexual Assault Hotline 1-800-656-4673 or go to https://www.nsvrc.org/find-help