Saturday, May 25, 2024

Kavanaugh hearing ignites debate

It is currently very difficult to imagine a news cycle that doesn’t involve 15-minute updates on Brett Kavanaugh and the scandal that surrounds him.


If you choose to be blissfully unaware of Donald Trump’s pick for Supreme Court Justice being investigated by the FBI and heavily scrutinized by the general public for sexual assault allegations, I envy you.


This is a complicated issue with many implications as Kavanaugh, if confirmed as a justice on the Supreme Court, will be appointed to a lifetime position of high authority and influence in our country.


Christine Blasely Ford, a professor of psychology at Palo Alto and Stanford Universities, accused Kavanaugh in early July of holding her against her will, attempting to strip her clothes and confining her to a bed in a drunken stupor at a party they both attended while they were in high school 36 years ago. Kavanaugh denies these events ever took place.


Ford is not the only woman to accuse Kavanaugh of this type of behavior.

Lynda Ames received her doctorate in sociology from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and has taught sociology at Plattsburgh State since 1991.


“Her specific allegations fit so well with what we know happens on high school and college campuses,” Ames said.


Classmates of Kavanaugh have even stated that they knew him to be a heavy drinker who became aggressive when intoxicated.


It has taken Ford this long to come forward, as each victim moves at their own pace to acceptance and recovery, and she is being met with suspicion and questions of her credibility.

Notable news outlets, such as USA Today, The New York Times and the Huffington Post have reported on attacks by senate Republicans who aim to weaken Ford’s credibility as the hearings and investigation regarding these allegations move forward.


Of course, this is to be expected when any woman comes forward. Victims of sexual abuse and rape often do not come forward out of fear that their testimonies are waved off as “dramatic” or “hormonal.”

“We are in interesting times,” Ames said. “Could I convict him on the basis of what I heard, which isn’t everything? I probably could not send him to jail, but I can certainly say I believe her.”


Ames said even the fact that Ford was given a platform to come forward regarding her experience with Kavanaugh, and that her words were taken seriously enough to spark an investigation, is a far cry from where we have been in society.


“We have learned something about women in the last 50 years,” Ames said, “and at least a little bit since the Anita Hill issue.”


Anita Hill was a colleague of Clarence Thomas, the second African American Supreme Court Justice, nominated by George Bush Sr. in the 90s. Similar allegations of sexual misconduct from Thomas came from Hill and other women who worked with him at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.


Hill’s voice was not heard on the national level like Ford’s is right now. In fact, Hill’s accounts were neglected and Thomas still holds a seat as a justice on the Supreme Court.


Men holding positions of power, who seem to hold very little regard and respect for women, is a scary reality to consider, especially when issues surrounding reproductive rights, wage gaps and assaults are dealt with at the judiciary level.


“We live in a culture where ‘boys will be boys,’” Ames said, “and that allows for incidents of harassment, humiliation and assault towards girls and women.”


But what if those on the receiving end of these actions spoke up and didn’t take the symptoms of society’s rape culture sitting down?


Senator Jeff Flake from Arizona, who formerly backed Kavanaugh, called for an investigation into the allegations purported by Ford. It is noted that he changed his mind on supporting the Supreme Court Justice nominee after speaking with a group of sexual assault survivors who were picketing against Kavanaugh, and being emotionally moved by them.


Ames suggests the best way to combat this culture of disrespecting women in our society is to call out the behavior. If someone comes forward as a victim of rape or sexual abuse, believe them. If someone defends the age old ‘boys will be boys’ rhetoric, shut it down.


“If you’re in a state with a senator that voted for Kavanaugh, make sure that senator knows how you feel,” Ames said. “Make sure that senator does not get re-elected.”


We, as humans, have the capacity to change, so why not work towards a world where behavior like Kavanaugh’s possible assault against Ford is not accepted and where those hoping for a position of power can not even obtain it after being accused of such a thing.


We will have to sit back and see how this situation unfolds. The FBI has been told to wrap up their investigation by Oct. 5.


There is a defense being used for Kavanaugh, and it is “Are we really going to let something that happened so long ago ruin the guy’s life?”


Ames encourages us to ask, “What about her life?”

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