By Michelle E. Brown Originally published in Between The Lines Newspaper October 3, 2018
The stories are all different, but they are the same.
The family friend or member who comes into the bedroom at night. The uncle, grandparent or friend who touches inappropriately with a hug. The boys who cop a feel in the hallway. The “nice” guy who after a few beers forgot that “No means No.”
It’s the jokes that aren’t funny. The lingering looks. The promise of employment if you comply and unemployment if you don’t. It’s harassment, intimidation, abuse and rape whether it happened yesterday or decades ago.
I can’t tell you the date, where the house was or how I got from there to the bus stop to home, but I remember that face, I remember the fear I felt from his anger when I fought back and said no. I said nothing.
As I listened to the reporting before the hearing and watched Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary committee I remembered all the feelings, all the reasons I said nothing. I remembered.
I believed Anita Hill in 1991! I believe Dr. Christine Blasey Ford! I believe Deborah Ramirez! I believe Julie Swetnick. I believe survivors!
Like so many other women, I have been triggered by these proceedings, but more than triggered I am enraged.
Men have exercised the right to rape, assault and harass women, with no recourse, accountability or consequence not just because of patriarchy but also, in part, because we, as a society, have cosigned these actions by slut-shaming, stigmatizing and promoting silence.
We must be “good” girls while “boys will be boys” just “sowing their wild outs.” And even when they admit to sexual assault, bragging in vulgar terms about kissing, groping and trying to have sex with women and grabbing women by their genitals, the remarks are called “locker room banter” and the perpetrator of these acts can go on to become president of the United States.
The Supreme Court is the final judge in all cases involving laws of Congress, and the highest law of all — the Constitution. Its decisions have shaped much of the world we know today.
Brown v. Board of Education ruled unanimously that racial segregation of children in public schools was unconstitutional. The Court’s Roe v. Wade decision changed laws that criminalized or restricted access to abortions, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission dealt with regulation of political campaign spending by organizations and the Obergefell v. Hodges decision ruled that the fundamental right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples.
Decisions made by the Supreme Court are always of national importance. In fact, “equal justice under Law” is its motto, but there was little justice in the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearings this week with Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh who was accused of sexual assault by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.
And Dr. Ford’s courageous decision to step forward and speak about her own experience of sexual assault is not the only accusation against Judge Kavanaugh. Two other women, Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick have also come forward. It also comes in the wake of the thousands of women speaking out against sexual harassment and violence with the #MeToo movement.
Kavanaugh’s nomination took a step forward, as the Senate Judiciary Committee endorsed Kavanaugh in an 11-10 party-line vote. The eleven being the all white, male republican members of the committee – score one for the patriarchy.
So, here’s where we stand: After a brief one-week FBI investigation the vote goes before the Senate. Eleven white men with a greater allegiance to party than to the people they represent, especially women, have moved forward the nomination Kavanaugh.
In his remarks, Kavanaugh basically declared himself pure as the proverbially-driven snow and, by his account, a candidate for sainthood for his exemplary life, with a testimony filled with tears, barbs and vitriol displaying a temperament no one should want to see on the highest court of the land. But, if confirmed as he stands to be now, the man we saw testifying would sit on the Supreme Court making decisions affecting all of us for decades and we have been triggered by these proceedings. We know the tremendous strength it takes to speak our truths and fight for our survival.
And now, more than ever, we must do just that, speak our truths and fight not just for our survival but for our daughters, our children and their future . In a few short weeks before the midterm elections and moving forward we must tell our stories, no matter how long ago they occurred. Because these occurrences are not brand-new and they need to end.
We must remind our sisters, mothers, fathers, brothers, friends and neighbors. We must remind them of the times they saw but chose not to see. We must remind them of the beliefs, stigmas and cultural influences that have allowed the violation of women’s bodies, and the bodies of femmes and gender non-conforming people. We must remind them of the politicians’ efforts to silence survivors. We must remember the courage of Ford and take our anger to the polls in November.
I believe Anita Hill! I believe Dr. Christine Blasey Ford! I believe Deborah Ramirez! I believe Julie Swetnick!
I BELIEVE SURVIVORS!