Colley: Kavanaugh, the GOP and the #MeToo Movement

By U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit [Public domain], <a href=via Wikimedia Commons" class="catboxphoto" />

By U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Caleb Colley, Lead Copy Editor

Just over three months ago, Anthony Kennedy, an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, caused shockwaves in the political arena in Washington as he resigned from the Court. His resignation had allowed for President Donald Trump to make his second nomination to the Supreme Court.

On the same day of the resignation, Trump announced that Kennedy’s successor would be selected from a list of 25 potential candidates. Around two weeks later, Trump officially nominated Federal Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

In the months following this nomination, it seemed inevitable that Kavanaugh would be approved by the Senate with its Republican majority. The only major questions that came at first were those of whether he would support or overturn decisions regarding reproductive rights and the like which, by themselves, caused a relative uproar and fierce opposition from the Democrats and the Independents who caucus with them. However, Republican support was still steadfast throughout the hearings despite the fact that Kavanaugh was found to be one of the most unpopular nominees for a Supreme Court position in recent United States history.

Things began to change with Senator Cory Booker releasing scandalous confidential emails regarding racial profiling. However, support from the Republicans remained unchanged and his eventual approval by the Senate was looming.

A week after this, an investigation by Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer revealed the first of three allegations of sexual misconduct, this one occurring more than 30 years ago involving one Christine Blasey Ford. This was followed by another allegation by a former Yale classmate, Deborah Ramirez, and a third allegation. In the past week, this has culminated in Kavanaugh and Ford delivering emotional testimonies on Capitol Hill and Trump calling for an FBI investigation into these allegations.

From this and the preceding events that lead the creation of the #MeToo Movement, I would like to draw attention to people’s various responses to these types of situations such as allegations against men in higher positions of power coming to light after years. We see it in the Kavanaugh affair but also in situations like those involving Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey. The common point made by the defenders of the accused consists of a single general question, “Why did they wait this long? They’re just trying to get attention or take down these successful men.”

Statements like that above need to be unpacked. The first portion of this unpackaging is an explanation to why a lot of victims of sexual misconduct and abuse don’t immediately speak out. The reasons for this are that the victims of sexual abuse often feel ashamed, are in denial, try to minimize the situation, fear the consequences of revealing abuse, a lack of information or some combination of all these factors. These reasons can also be the case in either low- or high-profile cases and allegations. For example, it is reasonable to conclude that the women involved with the Kavanaugh allegations were simply afraid of the response to their claims, especially as time went on. There’s a lot to lose if, for whatever reason, they aren’t believed and are simply discredited. However, they might’ve saw it fit to speak now because their alleged abuser was going to ascend to one of the highest positions in the land.

On the topic of power, there comes people’s statements of whether they’re doing this for attention or just to ruin the lives of the accused. Although, this doesn’t seem to be the case. The first two accusers of Kavanaugh aren’t in need of any fame. Ford is a professor in California and gave emotional testimony to the Senate just recently, and Ramirez is someone who went to an Ivy League school, not exactly some average joe’s community college. My point is that if these accusations were a ploy to gain fame or destroy this man’s career; they simply have more to lose than they have to gain.

Another explanation of why these things have just surfaced is that it coincides with the larger #MeToo Movement. Victims of abuse feel more confident when they know there is a large group of people just like them that they can find solidarity with, and with confidence, solidarity and strength. Everyone can feel safer and more assured when they come out with their stories of abuse. It seems not that this is just a bunch of nefarious people seeking to tear down those in power for their own gain but a group of victims finally coming to terms with and feeling comfortable with finally sharing their stories.

Statements like these need to be addressed because of the rhetoric spouted by the highest officials in the government. Examples include Trump’s forceful dismissals of the allegations against Kavanaugh as conspiracies by the Democrats to thwart his nomination to the Supreme Court and news outlets’, such as Fox News, defenses of Kavanaugh that insist that he is, in fact, a hero because he has pointed out a “harmful culture” of targeting and destroying successful men, demanding his appointment be approved immediately.

The fact of the matter is that it needs to be known that not one person in this society who has engaged in any form of sexual misconduct or abuse toward any number of other people is safe from the impending consequences of their actions. Their victims have finally found a voice through #MeToo, and the truly evil people who have actually committed these crimes can finally be seen for who they are.

It is important to note that Trump has called for an FBI investigation into the accusations against Kavanaugh and the results of the investigation are pending. No matter whether the allegations against Kavanaugh are found to be true or not, one thing is certain, and that is the fact that allegations such as these will now be taken far more seriously, not just in Washington but across the entire nation, and finally force some of the most powerful people in the US Government on all levels to take a stance on this issue.

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