I don’t think Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination will be derailed by Christine Blasey Ford’s accusations of sexual harassment. It seems to me his supporters are not really as concerned about the nature of her complaint as they are about delaying Kavanaugh’s likely inevitable confirmation. Her attorney Lisa Banks says since Blasey Ford has gone public she’s been trolled online and verbally accosted with death threats serious enough to force her and her family to leave their home.
Christine Blasey Ford gave up her anonymity — she said — to correct misinformation reported about her story. A tawdry tale of a high school party gone wrong she alleges of a young “stumbling drunk” Kavanaugh attempting to rape her in front of his friend Mark Judge. The Supreme Court nominee has not only emphatically denied her accusations, he has insisted that he was never at the party. Until a few weeks ago nobody knew Blasey Ford’s name. But now there is a good chance that she’ll end up as a name historically attached to the same Senate Judiciary Committee that shamed Anita Hill 27 years ago.
Like Blasey Ford, Hill was a reluctant witness in the hearings for nominee Clarence Thomas. Back then Utah’s Senator Orrin Hatch insisted an FBI investigation was necessary for a fair hearing, now the same Senator Hatch insists it is not necessary for Kavanaugh’s hearing. Even though it was an FBI investigation which revealed Anita Hill and her story.
But despite the legislative context, this story is not just about politics. It is about our ongoing national failure to understand sexual assault and to appreciate the lifelong emotional toll borne by sexual assault survivors. The national watercooler debate has focused on whether the California college professor’s story will harm a man President Trump says, “does not deserve this.”
Since her name was revealed, Christine Blasey Ford has faced a barrage of hostile reactions from many who say they simply don’t believe her. Of course, that is the painful dilemma for sexual assault victims — they fear not being believed so they don’t come forward. But, if they do come forward they have to fight to be believed.
Last week I listened to the radio confessions of Greater Boston women and men who called into WGBH’s Boston Public Radio to describe sexual assaults and harassment — in great horrifying detail. All spoke about years of simultaneously replaying and trying to forget memories of violations which occurred when they were children, in high school and college and in the workplace. Shockingly, so many said they had never told anyone until they picked up the phone — in that moment — to call. I was glued to the radio devastated by the knowledge of a large community of closeted walking wounded.
Three decades after she testified, Anita Hill now chairs the Times Up Commission on Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace. She’s called on the Senate Judiciary Committee to “push the pause button” on the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings to allow for a “neutral investigation.”
I believed Anita Hill and I believe Christine Blasey Ford. But I am not blinded by the Sisterhood.
I have nothing but the deepest rage for women who lie about sexual assault. I’ve seen what it costs the real victims. I hope that this latest #MeToo moment has helped more people see the truth about sexual assault and harassment; that power and violence are the motivators, and that any man, woman or teenage boy can be a perpetrator.