Kavanaugh Vote Proceeds to Full Senate


Survivors Left on the Sidelines Again

by Emily Dreher, Unspoken Voices Contributor

As the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to advance Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination Friday, countless survivors were told just as Dr. Christine Ford was told—that they don’t matter.

It’s critical to keep in mind that the Senate Judiciary Committee is not a court of law and is not able to declare whether Kavanaugh is guilty. Due process does not apply in that realm. The president ordered an FBI investigation after the confusing and disorganized vote but said in a statement it “must be limited in scope” and “completed in less than one week.” This just goes to show the slapdash nature of this process and how it steamrolls over victims of sexual assault.

The majority of the committee, all white men, voted to ignore and undermine what happened to Dr. Ford. They repeatedly and emphatically claimed this was partisan collusion, calling on the mistrusting misconception that survivors are simply lying and scheming to ruin people’s lives. (Yet how many celebrities and elected officials still have their jobs? Or, say, still hold the highest office in this country?)

Members of the committee sent a message that someone’s mere reputation and job prospects are more important than a victim’s pain, more important than determining the truth. Similarly, there’s a disproportionate amount of credence given to Kavanaugh’s simply saying he didn’t do it, especially after additional accusers have come forward.

And with his hysteric, grotesque testimony, during which he stated he didn’t watch Dr. Ford’s, we see a massive double-standard in the way (white) men are allowed to behave. Men are allowed to say (essentially during a job interview) that they like to drink, and they are allowed to cry and yell. And somehow that will garner sympathy. Even when his testimony was off-topic and flimsy from an evidentiary standpoint.

Meanwhile Dr. Ford has had to reopen wounds from her trauma for the whole nation to see, pointing out she’s suffered from PTSD-like symptoms for decades only to be told she’s lying or a political pawn. And then people have the gall to ask why she didn’t come forward sooner. Never mind that Dr. Ford has received numerous death threats since going public and had to move her family after her address was posted online. Or how people in power don’t believe her, just as they didn’t believe Anita Hill’s accusations of sexual harassment against Clarence Thomas, who still sits on the Supreme Court.

If this nomination is confirmed, it will reinforce the horrible falsities survivors have already endured throughout this process: that their stories don’t matter. Their word isn’t enough against particularly rich, privileged, or well-connected abusers. They’re just trying to smear someone’s name. The abuser couldn’t have done it because they’re so nice and respected.

There’s more than enough reason by now to doubt Kavanaugh’s fitness for a lifelong position as critical as the high court. When there is no justice or respect for victims, no one wins.