Kentucky Kernel • September 26, 2018 • https://kykernel.com/30288/opinions/dear-brett-kavanaugh-women-want-to-be-heard-too/
Dear Brett Kavanaugh: Women want to be heard, too
Kernel Opinion SIG
Amid sexual assault allegations, Supreme Court hopeful Judge Brett Kavanaugh broke tradition and allowed himself to be interviewed alongside his wife, Ashley, by Fox News on Monday. I read the transcript of his interview, and one phrase he said stood out among the rest: “I want to be heard.”
Part of the beauty of our justice system is that a person is innocent until proven guilty. Since I respect this, I am not writing a critique on Kavanaugh as a person. But, since I also believe women who have the courage to lay themselves bare before the world and admit they were violated, I am worried about his ongoing hearings and his potential position of power in our highest court of law. Since I also realize that the justice system that protects the accused has so often in our history failed to protect or avenge the accusers, I am writing to critique the undertones in Kavanaugh’s interview that scream of entitlement and advantages that women are still not afforded, even in 2018.
I want Kavanaugh, and every other person who has been accused of sexual misconduct, to know that his plea is exactly what victims want, too. Women, specifically, have fought for centuries to “be heard.” Kavanaugh’s plea seemed stoic because a man said it, but it is not a new plea. Women have begged to be heard for so long. To no avail.
I want both sides to be heard, too. Kavanaugh’s plea to be heard bears undertones that stress to the world the validity of his word. He talked about his years in the judiciary. He appeared with his wife, painting a picture of himself that alludes to purity, chivalry and reserve. He said throughout high school and afterwards, he was a virgin. He said he always treated women with respect. He wants his superiors, and the world, to take his word for it. Women have never had that luxury.
Kavanaugh said in his interview, “I think all of us have probably done things we look back on in high school and regret or cringe a bit, but that’s not what we’re talking about.”
He expects that a humble statement from him that acknowledges that he knows he’s not perfect is enough. But women are critiqued on how they walked, how they smiled and how short their skirts were before they were assaulted. Men are praised for handling women with respect as if that is not the human thing to do. They are praised when their attacks are not “as bad” as they could have been. Women are evaluated on how much cleavage they showed at prom.
Kavanaugh also said, “I just want an opportunity, a fair process where I can defend my integrity.” Anita Hill wanted this too, in 1991. In one of the first hearings of its kind, Hill sat before a somber panel composed of all men and accused Judge Clarence Thomas of sexually harassing her. This did little good. Thomas is still on the Supreme Court. Hill took her opportunity to try to be heard. She was not heard.
Kavanaugh wants to be heard and believed. Dr. Christine Blasey Ford also wants that. But her word has been torn apart and doubted. President Donald Trump has challenged her word when he tweeted, “I have no doubt that, if the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with the local Law Enforcement Authorities, by either her or her loving parents. I ask that she bring those filings forward so that we can learn date, time, and place!” Not only was this an inappropriate topic for Twitter, but it questions the validity of her word. It flips the situation and makes the accuser the aggressor.
You want to be heard, Kavanaugh? Women want to be heard, too. You want fairness and equality? Then grant it to women.