If you follow politics, this piece is for you. But even if you don’t, who sits on the Supreme Court should matter just as much. It matters for women, people of color, indigenous communities and queer folk throughout the United States.
Bret Kavanaugh is sitting as Trump’s sole appointee. This is a problem.
Kavanaugh’s most prominent issues are two recent sexual assault accusations from Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez. Ford says that Kavanaugh and another classmate assaulted her at a party in 1982. Ramirez alleges Kavanaugh exposed himself to her during a drinking game at Yale.
It should be said before I go on, these allegations alone are more than sufficient to take down any individual from their spot on the Supreme Court. I stand with Ford and Ramirez. I stand with them as a survivor myself.
The question I desire to raise, however, is not whether Kavanaugh is guilty, but rather, does Kavanaugh’s reaction and his past give us any indication of how he’ll possibly rule on the bench?
The first thing to look at is his reaction to the allegations. In a Fox News appearance, when asked if there should be an FBI investigation Kavanaugh said, “I want an opportunity- a fair process...where I can defend my integrity and clear my name as quickly as I can.”
The correct answer is that yes, there should be an FBI investigation. In fact, Kavanaugh’s desire to “clear” his name points to a critical issue in dealing with sexual allegations: men’s reputation.
The reputation of a man seems to be the focus on courts’ lens in these types of cases, “How will this hurt his reputation?” It’s not so much that a focus on reputation is bad, because people’s character does matter. But this almost fetishized desire to protect it is the problem. It’s an excuse to protect the accused instead of the accuser, an excuse to not investigate or reveal conclusions that could prove harmful.
Further, these allegations on face prove how Kavanaugh looks at women. If true, they point to an almost animalistic sexualization of the female body. Ford’s accusation includes Kavanaugh holding her down, covering her mouth, and turning up the music which is assumed to cover up any sound.
As with any sexually violent crime, it comes from the pre-conceived notion that “I own her body, he is not hers, her place is to be submitted to me.” This isn’t about sex, it’s about power. Rape, sexual assault, harassment, are all about power. Even sly snubs are a check, a reminder, that the subject is secondary.
In this world where, somehow, Roe v Wade s on the line, and women’s rights to their own bodies are in play, Kavanaugh’s implicit views on women should raise a major concern.