As a man, the discussion of the highly sensitive topic of the handling of allegations of rape and sexual assault of women can be difficult and dangerous. On one side, there are those who side immediately with the accuser of the assault, attacking those who may wish to wait and see what a thorough investigation will turn up as people exercising their misogynistic “privilege” to not care about the plight of the accuser, or her supporters’ own life experiences. On the other side, there are those who view such accusations of wrongdoing against someone they love and/or support as a vicious attack against the accused’s own character, and in vengeful defense will seek to destroy the one making them.
In my own life, it’s been especially difficult–and perhaps more dangerous. I wrote about how my actions against my ex-wife four years ago affected my ability to use my voice against the misogyny and sexism I see in the world today. I have always believed in the full autonomy of women, and view women as my equal. Women are not the property of men at all, and are deserving of just as much equal protection under the law as a man has. The shame and regret of my actions in 2014 did damage to me, as I felt I had no moral place to say anything against misogyny and sexism any longer. Along with the shame and disgust over the damage done against my ex (which I have never forgiven myself for), I felt I had become what I hated, worthy of derision and exclusion.
But after the forced outing by The Intercept of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, a professor at Palo Alto university in California who, according to reporting by The Washington Post confidentially wrote letters to both her congresswoman Anna Eshoo and Sen. Dianne Feinstein alleging Judge Brett Kavanaugh, Donald Trump’s appointee for the Supreme Court had sexually assaulted her over thirty years ago, I couldn’t stay silent anymore. It would not be right to sit by on the sidelines as the Right, driven by their insatiable desire to consolidate their power in the Judicial Branch for possibly generations, would drag yet another honorable woman coming forward to speak their truth in spite of great personal anguish lasting decades.
Dr. Christine Blasey Ford did more than just throw an accusation of sexual assault in the air against Judge Kavanaugh, which should have been enough on its own to warrant an investigation into Kavanaugh’s past. Instead, Dr. Ford did much more than she should have had to, by providing a passed FBI polygraph test, along with therapist’s notes showing the mental and emotional anguish she went through for decades after that infamous night. She went out of her way to make sure her accusations would be ironclad, and almost on cue, the Right began their assault on her person, her credibility, and her case. At the time of this writing, Dr. Ford has moved her family out of their home, and has hired private security due to threats against her very safety, even to death. Furthermore, she has requested through her legal counsel that the FBI investigate her allegations against Kavanaugh in a fair, non-partisan manner before any more hearings begin, which is being denied her by the Trump administration.
Many people have rightly drawn parallels of Dr. Ford’s treatment by the Right to that of Dr. Anita Hill, who in 1991 testified to the Senate regarding her allegations of sexual harassment and assault by Clarence Thomas. While Dr. Hill was afforded the courtesy of an FBI investigation of now-Justice Thomas, Dr. Ford is getting far worse. By simply doing what she believed was her civic duty, she unintentionally challenged the social and cultural norms of those who seek unimpeded, unlimited power, in this case a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the country. She is now the only one standing in the way of almost total conservative control of the Supreme Court, a place Dr. Ford never intended to be. She has incurred the wrath of those who would infantilize Kavanaugh’s alleged actions as simply the mistakes of a youth who didn’t know any better–a benefit often conferred to white men of prestige and power–and is paying a heavy price.
How could I not speak out against this? The dismissal of Dr. Ford’s allegations against Judge Kavanaugh as simply being a case of “boys being boys” is a sick generalization of men by the Right. In using this defense, Republicans declare every man is a predator-in-waiting, lacking in both individual agency and the self-control necessary to not attempt the violation of a woman’s body. Far worse than this, the Right has long hated the idea of women being able to control their complete selves, and has pursued policy after policy as proof of the same. Kavanaugh has already been exposed as a liar, perjurer, and an activist for Right-wing causes; should he be confirmed, the dominion the Right has sought over women for decades would no doubt be codified into law.
For my part, I stand with Dr. Ford. I believe in her bravery and courage to step forward and make the country aware of just how much of a scoundrel Brett Kavanaugh truly is. But also, it is time for those of us who love, trust and respect women to demand better of our fellow men; to listen to the stories of women who have lived with the emotional and psychological damage of sexual assault, and let them know they do not have to suffer in silence any longer.