Letter from the editor: What the Kavanaugh trials mean to women in America

By: Megan Barbera

In the wake of the Kavanaugh trials, with all of the multi faceted and unsettling elements that have unveiled since the initial allegation, I feel the need to speak on what this situation means in an America that has historically silenced women who speak on controversial, and oftentimes uncomfortable issues.

I am not a political expert. I know only the basics of the judicial system. There are many elements of this trial that leave me uncertain about what exactly happened the night of alleged assault.

Here is what I am certain on: I am a woman who has grown up in a period of contradictory feelings towards women in society. There has been an ever growing amount of major accomplishments made by strong, independent women, and a slowly increasing number of females in office. The women’s empowerment movement is larger than ever before, with millions of women marching every year in celebration of resilient and successful women.

At the same time, the country has elected a president who has time and time again been shown to be sexist, speaking of women with vulgarity and the utmost of disrespect.

When I first read the allegation by Christine Blasey Ford against Brett Kavanaugh, I wish I could say I was shocked. It is disturbingly typical for young, privileged white boys living in the suburbs to do such things to women, with alcohol as the blame. What is also disturbingly typical, is the immediate backlash by fellow privileged males when women decide to come forward on their experiences.

“We don’t know the full story,”

“Was she drinking as well?”

“What was she wearing?”

These are comments that always immediately follow in the wake of sexual assault, usually made by men. Instead of offering comfort and approaching the victim with composition and respect, they are typically attacked with comments like so, exemplifying that this country will consistently push to side with men, and the Kavanaugh trials are a prime example of that.

Dr. Ford did not want her identity public. She wanted to break her years of silence before watching her assailant get elected into a powerful position, one where he would be faced with cases similar to the trials he is defendant in now. Her identity being made public was the first example of sad disregard to victims emotions.

Upon her identity being made public, she was immediately faced with death threats and countless hateful messages. Some made jokes of her. President Trump sided with Kavanaugh. Over half of Republicans feel he should still get inducted into the Supreme Court, even if the allegations are true.

The public outlash upon these allegations raise questions; What exactly are we teaching to victims of sexual assault? That they should stay silent in fear of angry outlash guided by disbelief of privileged men? That they should just sit and watch as their assaultants get elected into high class positions, because their assault was ‘long ago’?

Sexual assault cases have been shown to give the least amount of justice for victims. According to the Rape, Assault and Incest National Network (RAINN), of every 1000 rapes, 994 perpetrators will walk free. That is 99.4% of rapists getting to live their lives free, while their victims live in deeply rooted and constant fear.

If you are a woman, you will most likely face a sexual assault on some level at some point in your life. It is the sad truth of being a woman. Another sad truth? You have to fight for people to believe you.

While the events described in the Kavanaugh trials will most likely always be questioned on both ends, these trials are a prime example of how sexual assault is handled in the judicial system. Despite anything, you will be questioned, you will be criticized and ultimately, you will have to fight to have your rapist punished.

With this information, I want to end this on an uplifting note. To all sexual assault victims: Do not let this catechizing attitude towards sexual assault victims push you to silence when it comes to getting justice. Speak your truths, be strong and know that someone, somewhere, whether it be the judge or not, believes you.

National Sexual Assault Hotline: 800-656-HOPE

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