Desmond Tutu once said “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” What is an oppressor? It’s Brett Kavanaugh. But how can one person encompass such an ugly word? When anyone, regardless of race/gender/etc., forces someone to go through unjust treatment and force intense mental distress on a person – that is when they are truly an oppressor.
If you are unfamiliar of the story, Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. For the non-believers that question “Why didn’t Dr. Ford tell anyone about her sexual assault sooner?” or “Where is the evidence?” – think about it for a second. Most sexual assault survivors do not report their story because they fear no-one will believe them, that they’ll get in trouble or be reprimanded, that they’ll lose their credibility at work, don’t know how or simply by fear of the justice system. Now this woman, Dr. Ford, is fighting the justice system to remove Brett Kavanaugh from a position of power.
Personally, as a woman, minority and a leader, I believe that this case is solely getting delayed because of the heavily white, privileged and male dominated court. In other news, Flake, a republican, asked for an FBI investigation to go through- but why? Because two women actually told him their sexual assault stories, they spoke to him showing such intense vulnerability, asked him to think of his children, put it all in his own perspective and they reached him. What Dr. Ford and those women are trying to do for the #MeToo movement and for all sexual assault survivors is give them a voice and a chance to be believed. By diminishing the value of sexual assault survivors and turning your back against them makes you the oppressor.
If you haven’t yet, listen to Ford’s testimony. Hear her explain that she was pushed, shoved to the ground with a hand over her mouth, nearly raped with the thought that she would be killed – hear that and then understand that the emotions she felt, the actions forced upon her is something that should never be felt. Dr. Ford was ripped apart holding all of this in and is taking her stance against Brett Kavanaugh in effort to make more women speak up against people of power who have done something so incredibly wrong. People like Brett Kavanaugh are in the world, unfortunately, and they have done terrible things, but what Dr. Ford is doing is incredibly brave. I feel for her emotions, I hear her, and I believe in Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.
In her eighteen minute testimony to the Senate Judicial Committee on September 27th, Stanford University professor of clinical psychology Dr. Christine Blasey Ford left it all on the table. Her sexual assault accusations against Supreme Court justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh were recalled in harrowing detail, taking a nationwide audience back to that midsummer night in 1982 that has left her mentally and emotionally traumatized. Dr. Ford was fifteen years old when, after this day of practicing diving at the local country club, Kavanaugh allegedly forced himself on top of her and drunkenly groped her at a house party, at times cutting her air supply off. Her story captivated the media and American audience, leaving us all wondering the same thing- how fit is Brett Kavanaugh to fill the lone spot on the Supreme Court?
The credentials are there for Kavanaugh; as he was sure to let the Senate Judiciary Committee know, he was a multi-sport athlete at Georgetown Preparatory School before attending Yale University, where he was an honors student and graduated cum laude with a degree in American history. On paper, Kavanaugh was the prodigal version of the boy next door- a brainy athlete with the moves to win any popularity contest. That being said, however, the tides have certainly changed as to this man’s public appeal.
1982 is long gone- the keg has run dry and so has our lack of accountability towards men in power.
Dr. Ford assured the Senate Judiciary Committee that her testimony against Kavanaugh was the hardest thing she’s ever had to do in her whole lifetime. Think about if you were the person to put a woman through years of therapy, emotional turmoil, and self-doubt. Imagine being the catalyst of such a personal monstrosity, the sole factor in a human being’s personal hell- how would you feel? You’d probably feel like the inner version of Kavanaugh that knows no matter how many times he childishly cries about his “innocence”, the world finds his transparency to be chemically unbalanced.
Here’s some food for thought: Bill Cosby was once considered the funniest man in America for his darling sitcom “The Cosby Show” in the late 1980’s. Harvey Weinstein was considered to be one of Hollywood’s premier film producers for works such as “The Crying Game” and “Pulp Fiction”. In the past year, both these men have come under fire for their sexual harassment against women from years ago- putting their reputations in a metaphorical paper shredder. Call me crazy, but in my book, a Supreme Court justice nominee is a bit more serious on the national landscape than a film junkie and a renowned comedian. Shouldn’t he be held just as accountable, if not more?
The only difference between the inebriated honors student from 1982 and the modern-day Supreme Court justice nominee is the fact that he now is the potential deciding vote between partisan lines on national debates. Dr. Ford’s window into her personal trauma is a testament to Kavanaugh’s true nature, no matter the successes he’s had in life. This is no longer a political matter- it should be a conclusion based off basic human decency and morality. To make the unfathomably wrong decision here is telling of our government’s true ideals.
Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018 saw the testimonies of Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The former, up for a nomination to replace former Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, has been accused of sexual assault by the latter. While both testimonies were incredibly emotional for a multitude of reasons, the ordeal and the difficult conversations it has unveiled serve as a reminder of the substantial progress America has made regarding a woman’s ability to simultaneously come forward with such information and be believed that they indeed faced such horrors.
Many comparisons have been made between the Senate Judiciary hearings of Judge Kavanaugh and Dr. Ford and the hearings of then-Judge Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill in 1991, but another – often untold – story deserves mention: the story of Mrs. Martha Mitchell and the treatment she received by the public, the media, and the government when attempting to tell the world about the Watergate scandal.
Mrs. Mitchell – well known during the 1970’s as the wife of Richard Nixon’s Attorney General John Mitchell – was a standard fixture in the media due to her “late night calls” to the press. She would inform newspapers of what she had overheard from her husband and other higher-ups of the Nixon administration. Reports suggest that Mrs. Mitchell was well-liked by the public for her no-nonsense attitude and general brazenness; the Nixon administration would even sometimes joke that she was the most famous person associated with the administration besides the President himself.
Things started to change for Mrs. Mitchell, however, when she attempted to make the public aware of Watergate.
Before the break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters, Mr. Mitchell holed up his wife in a California hotel, so she could not bring forward information to the press should she overhear anything said by her husband or other individuals. Hiding her away proved fruitless, however, as upon recognizing one of the people arrested for breaking into the Democratic National Committee headquarters in 1972, Mrs. Mitchell – correctly – assumed the involvement of someone in the Nixon administration.
She attempted to reach out to one of her many reporter friends but was allegedly restrained by Stephen B. King, the U.S. Ambassador to the Czech Republic, who supposedly ripped the phone out of the wall to keep her from contacting anyone. To top it all off, Mrs. Mitchell later alleged that she was forced to take a sedative.
Mrs. Mitchell’s fortitude, however, meant that several of her interviews with the press concerning Watergate were released to the public. In response, the Nixon administration spent great deals of time convincing the public and media that she had lost her mind and did not know what she was talking about. As such, Mrs. Mitchell became the butt of many jokes, and even a standard comedic target on variety shows such as Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In.
Once the Nixon administration successfully convinced others of Martha Mitchell’s alleged insanity, the media relegated her stories to the back pages of sensationalist tabloids. Even Bernstein and Woodward – the journalists who broke the Watergate story – refused to write up Martha Mitchell’s account until they received information about Watergate from another source.
Once the Watergate scandal broke, however, the world then had to face not only mass corruption in the American government but also the knowledge that that same government purposefully mislead the public into believing that Martha Mitchell was insane and not a trustworthy public figure, the exact opposite of how Nixon wanted her portrayed before she learned of Watergate.
Less than 20 years later, Anita Hill came forward about her mistreatment by then-Judge Clarence Thomas and was the only person reporting Thomas’s alleged behavior. Others – such as Angela Write and Sukari Hardnett – noted through writing and other ways concerns about some of Judge Thomas’s actions, but did not seem to suggest one way or another that his behavior definitively encroached on sexual harassment.
According to CNN, Mrs. Hill’s testimony was not believed by the public and did nothing to affect Thomas’s appointment to the Supreme Court. Mrs. Hill, however, received something that Martha Mitchell’s story lacked: respect by at least some members of the media that aimed to report her story and place journalistic integrity over ridicule. While receiving incredible doubt by the Judiciary Committee and the public at the time, she – unlike Martha Mitchell – could bring her story forward and be heard.
Today, when discussing the above incidents in comparison to Dr. Ford’s testimony, it almost seems irresponsible to say there has been no progress regarding women’s’ ability to discuss the harassment and assaults they commonly face. Such feelings have resulted in the expression of a similar and familiar stance commonly espoused on social media – that the current state of American politics is atrocious and that everyone should believe Dr. Ford. While there are definite naysayers who refuse to believe that Dr. Ford is anything more than a troublemaker, the very fact that there are vocal individuals in the public, media, and government who do treat Dr. Ford’s testimony as a genuine account shows how far we have come since the 1970s, Martha Mitchell, and Watergate.
Rest assured, by no means was Martha Mitchell a saint; but her voice was nevertheless forcefully stolen when she strove to speak the truth. While stories have recently come out attempting to vindicate Mrs. Mitchell and paint her as a Cassandra of sorts, the damage the Nixon administration wrought upon her credibility arguably aggravated the health issues she developed following Watergate, which persisted until her death in 1976 at age 57.
People at the time remembered her a woman who sought fame by taking any lengths she could to obtain it, an opinion even provided in her biography by Winzola McLendon. While this may explain some of Mrs. Mitchell’s eccentricities, there remains another more likely possibility in the age of Dr. Ford’s testimony. Perhaps Mrs. Mitchell’s attempts in making the media aware of Watergate and the abuse she suffered were not merely “fame-seeking behaviors,” but rather the actions of a woman wanting someone to believe her and her experiences, and to know of the corruption that would engulf the nation should her voice go silent.