This past weekend, I had the pleasure of visiting a friend at Ohio State University. Saturday night after the football game, we went out to a local club. All was good and fun: everyone was enjoying each other and the loud, pounding music. Then, the fog machine went off. I couldn’t see in front of me, around me, nothing. Just fog, loud music, and strobe lights.
My first thought was, I hope no one is being sexually assaulted right now. No one would be able to see. Not her friends, not the girl herself: all women, all people, were totally vulnerable in that moment. This instinct seemed normal to me, a typical fear and hope that I find myself having often. It took me until the next morning to realize how problematic my comfort with that thought is, how problematic it is that I have these same thoughts every time I go to a frat or sports house on the Tufts campus, as well.
Hours before that moment, Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed and sworn in as our newest Supreme Court Justice. Hours before, our nation revealed its priorities and values. Not only was Kavanaugh confirmed; so was the idea that women lie about sexual assault. Nationally and worldwide, the United States illustrated its alliance to men and not ruining their futures because of their past. The nation’s allegiance to not disrupting a man’s life because of something that “may or may not have happened, even if “what may or may not have happened” has already altered a woman’s life forever. The culture and priorities of this nation have also been confirmed with Kavanaugh. It is an historic moment that will continue to shape our culture and attitudes toward sexual assault for years to come.
I look at all the young girls, with their optimistic and playful expressions, growing up around me and my heart hurts as I realize that around 27% of them will be sexually assaulted (https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/02/21/587671849/a-new-survey-finds-eighty-percent-of-women-have-experienced-sexual-harassment). Moreover, only of a few of them will feel safe enough to report it. And even then, only a very small part of those few will feel any sort of justice.
“You are not on trial.” Dr. Ford was constantly reassured of this fact by Democratic senators. Yet, the reality is that the victims of sexual assault actually are. They are often the ones having to play the part of the perfect victim in order to simply have their word trusted.
“You are not on trial.” If only this was the reality. Then maybe we could start by believing survivors brave enough to put their pain on display in order to save others from similar fates, in order to save young girls from the same fear and traumatic experiences.
The politics and consequences of Kavanaugh’s confirmation are immense and exhausting. Politically and socially, the repercussions are infinite. I could not encapsulate them here if I tried, nor can anything new really be said about it. However, no matter your political affiliation, it is important to see through the politics at the social repercussions that will affect all of us and our future children. It is important to understand the culture that has been reaffirmed with this confirmation. Moreover, it is important to question it with friends, family, and strangers, and to fight to change it by listening, supporting, and believing survivors and by being active bystanders. We must do better and start by teaching our sons, daughters, brothers and sisters to respect boundaries and what it means to respect someone’s body.
The silver lining of support for survivors that has come to light during the last month is strong and should not be overlooked. Furthermore, I truly find pride in the fact that a woman loves this country and its people enough to come forward, knowing she’ll be destroyed, yet doing it anyway. That is true patriotism; we should all be thankful.
On the other hand, it is hard for me to believe that 50 senators don’t believe Dr. Ford. The impression I have is that they do believe her, yet they don’t care. 50 of the men and women shaping our country through their legislature and politics don’t care that a Supreme Court Justice sexually assaulted a woman. (Furthermore, for all those claiming accusations ruin men’s lives- who’s now a judge in our highest court?)
Yet, with all of this weighing on our hearts, we must take solace in the fact that more and more people are coming out to support survivors and that conversations are being had that would have never been broached a few years ago. It is important to keep this in mind, and it is important to support Dr. Ford. I believe you, Dr. Ford. But even more so, I care. And I thank you for your allegiance to women and this country and your strength and bravery in coming forward.
**If you are also thankful, please visit this link on Bustle by Joseph D. Lyons to learn how to write her a letter: https://www.bustle.com/p/how-to-send-letters-to-christine-blasey-ford-to-thank-her-for-coming-forward-12184450 **