What Kavanaugh's Confirmation Means to Millennial Women

Last Saturday, October 6, 2018, Brett Kavanaugh was sworn into the United States Supreme Court following a close vote, controversial vote in the Senate.

For the last week, this fact alone has haunted me. For a long time, I wasn’t one to follow politics, but the recent political climate has made it an anxiety-inducing necessity for me. There’s been outrage and debate over whether or not Kavanaugh was fit to sit on the Supreme Court bench since the day of his appointment. So many people across our country are angry and upset about his appointment, his ideas, and his past actions. Whether we want to acknowledge it or not, this could make a huge difference for the future of our country. This affects us.

As young women in America, we’re paying attention. We’re realizing what this means now and what it could potentially mean for our futures. I recently talked to a friend and recent Susquehanna alumni about Kavanaugh’s confirmation, and she had a lot to say, speaking not only on the division of our country but the danger of what many are calling “false accusations” in light of the hearing involving sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh.

“Many conversations in the fallout of the hearings have centered around false accusations, which has me, particularly on edge. The right insists that false accusations are possible, if not widespread, and have the capacity to ruin a man's life. The left cites research that false accusations make up between two and eight percent of all reported assaults and that there are far fewer reported incidents due to victims' fears of being called a liar and not taken seriously. I do not wish to speculate on the status of Ford's testimony because I do not wish further scrutiny on her case. Instead, I would rather draw attention to a family matter.

“An uncle of mine was falsely accused of sexually assaulting a minor at the high school he once coached at. The status of the falsehood was proven within the court of law; the minor was exceptionally homophobic and didn't want "a queer" to be involved in his sporting activities at school. Regardless of being vindicated, this occurred in Texas in the early 00s. He lost his coaching position. He was outed to his wife and two young sons; they have since divorced and share custody of the boys. Most crushing, he lost contact with his little brother, who either was homophobic himself or still believed the victim despite the invalidation of his story. We know our records of unwarranted violence.

“We know the stories of "gay bashing", of violence against LGBT+ persons because of unwanted, often unfounded, sexual advances. We know the history of lynchings in this country that has plagued the US, and still can only guess at the numbers of young men lost to stories of whistling at white women -- and further, the continuing violence against persons of color, especially black men, who "were perceived as a threat". These dangers are not new to our country. What is new is that as our very nation, the false accusation was "discovered" and converted into something to protect white men, straight men, conservative men -- all the while crushing others underfoot.

“I have seen firsthand that yes -- false accusations can harm the life of the accused. However, I implore you to consider: do false accusations threaten all men? Only straight men? Only white men? Only cisgender men? I have seen false accusations in my world, and yet they have only been used as tools for further oppression. Rape and assault cannot only be taken seriously when the person accused has fewer privileges than the accuser. Victims of all kinds deserve to be heard, all alleged perpetrators of violence deserve thorough, unbiased investigations, and all of us deserve to listen and seek the truth. If not, gay men like my uncle may continue to lose their families. Black men may continue to lose their lives. And men like Brett Kavanaugh will continue on, uninterrupted.”

Another friend of mine is focusing not so much on Kavanaugh, but on the way, his confirmation to the Supreme Court will affect victims of sexual assault.

“Kavanaugh being elected to the Supreme Court shows how corrupt our system is. The fact that a woman came forward only to be questioned by members of the Senate about her credibility shows how corrupt our system is. Having someone like Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court is an insult to the women in the U.S. There needs to be better justice and representation for victims.”

As a victim myself, I can testify to the fact that the worst part of all of this actually has very little to do with Kavanaugh himself. Him sitting on the Supreme Court bench is symbolic. It shows that our country as a whole does not believe survivors of sexual assault. It supports abusers and tears down survivors. It invalidates survivors. It is a sign that the voice and story of a survivor don’t matter. The ones who abused us will always be okay. It makes sexual assault seem normal. It makes it seem okay even though it never should be.