"We are tired of being told ‘that’s the problem with you feminists’, ‘be quiet’ and ‘you’re being too emotional about this’."
Like most women are (or should be) about Kavanaugh, I am angry. I am appalled that he has been appointed. It feels like yet another attempt to silence American women and women in general, alongside shutting down the voices of sexual assault survivors. It is again another blow to the movement women are fighting for and have been fighting harder for, since #metoo began. But this one blow to the fight is crucial to justice and for the rights and livelihoods of American women, and so this time, like the election of the accused President Trump, it is going to be consequential to American domestic policy. In fact, you could even argue that the appointment of Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court is even more consequential than Trump as he holds his position for life and so can influence cases that will have a wider effect on domestic policy in the long-term, including cases that will impact women. Should a judge who was both accused of sexual assault (and in my opinion is likely to be guilty) and who lied under oath, multiple times still be considered for such an esteemed judicial position? Surely, even lying should have been enough to disqualify him?
The appointment is not surprising however, given America elected a misogynist and probably a man guilty of sexual assault himself- no justice has been served there, despite multiple women coming forward. Although it of course would not be surprising, if such a person were to be considered for a high position in the UK judicial or political system, I would like to think that he would not succeed and that his career would be finished, as you know, crimes should have serious implications and all. I would like to think that despite the insanity that is going in the UK’s political arena right now regarding Brexit and its scandals, that the British system and its standards are still, better and would not allow the appointment of such a person that could influence domestic policy, particularly if he has been overtly exposed.
Let's look at the fact that he's probably guilty as it hard to believe Dr. Ford would drag her ordeal to the forefront of the American political arena to lie. You could also argue it was evident by the emotion in her voice that she was clearly telling the truth and had the best of intentions. More importantly, why would she lie and what would she gain from doing so? There is little to no evidence that he is telling the truth but enough evidence to suggest Dr. Ford is telling the truth. Yet there have been constant attempts to discredit her while the right-winged American media has given an *emotional*, lying and partisan-hinting (enough to disqualify) Kavanaugh a fairly easy ride. For instance, Republicans and Conservatives claimed that Dr. Ford did not remember and had no friends who did, which seems to be another attempt to silence her and the voices of other survivors who may suffer from impairments as a result of their traumatic experience or have questionable witnesses. A good explanation of this from sexual assault and rape survivor, Lady Gaga, can be found here.
Of course, not everyone thinks that Kavanaugh’s appointment is disastrous or that his history should hinder his appointment to the Supreme Court. There are several commentators and conservative journalists who have essentially noted that the sexual assault occurred many years ago, it no longer matters and should not stand in the way of his career. One of these, even referred to his record as 'unblemished' and his unblemished record is quite something. Alongside his clear partisan line, on civil rights and law enforcement, he is fairly questionable and while not explicitly stating his opposition against abortion, he made clear that he is not in favour of the precedent set in Roe v Wade on numerous occasions. The judiciary is meant to be an impartial body outside of the government but proves to be highly political in practice with presidential appointments and partiality among Supreme Court judges long questioned as highlighted through Kavanaugh and his testimony.
Therefore, such comments are unhelpful and deeply problematic as it is dismissive of a survivor’s experience and simply tells the world that, it doesn’t matter what sexual offence an accuser has committed in the past, it shouldn’t have implications on a person’s future. It tells people that its ok and it really is not ok, regardless of the time scale. It is a dangerous precedent to set and one that makes no sense. A serious crime was committed and so should rightly be accompanied by necessary consequences. I don’t understand the logic behind these comments. Why it is ok to dismiss cases of assault and appoint him because it happened a long time ago? Do these people seriously believe that it no longer matters? Do they (naively) believe that he’s changed? Do they not understand the ins and outs of the Supreme Court and how this appointment will affect American domestic policy and the welfare of women? Do they not realise this just silences the voice of survivors and women? Do some women not care enough about protecting the welfare of women? Someone please explain this to me, because I am struggling to understand and I am sure I am not alone here.
I’ll keep it brief here on the #himtoo movement. There are men who feel Kavanaugh has been dragged through the process and do not believe he’s guilty. Yes, people are entitled to their opinion but are some of these men also entitled to feel it is a scary time to be a man? Trump Jr. expressed that he is more scared for their sons and others have expressed being afraid of dating in the current climate. This is not only deeply frustrating and inaccurate, it is concerning that a proportion of men fail to recognise the daily realities of women and the reality of sexual assault. Yes, more men are being cautious of their behavior towards women and they absolutely should be, otherwise no responsibility is being taken and nothing ever changes. The men who are fearless about #metoo, have been very supportive of female voices but it is fair to say that men who feel somewhat threatened by this, may perhaps be insecure and are in doubt about their past and/or present behaviours and so, are afraid. Afraid of being guilty, afraid of exposure and afraid of being attacked. Dear men, unless you yourself/your male friends and family, have been sexually assaulted, you have no reason to be afraid and attacking #metoo just makes you look a bit questionable, so tread carefully. #metoo entails survivors of all genders and so the essence of #himtoo and its claims, is sexist and dismissive of female sexual assault survivors. That is not to say #metoo is not being used to wrongfully accuse others by the minority few, but still, it is not a movement overlooking men and it is not being hijacked or being taken too far. To say so, is dismissive to its purpose and to the real attacks people face.
At the moment, I am glad I am not an American woman. But women everywhere are being silenced daily over feminism, even in here, in the UK. A couple of days before Kavanaugh’s confirmation, a Top Shop pop-up for feminist book ‘Feminists don’t wear pink and other lies’ was dismantled in London, for being deemed too controversial. Really? But again, this should be no surprise as its owner has previously faced controversy over sexism and bullying allegations.
We are tired of being dismissed and silenced. We are tired of being told ‘that’s the problem with you feminists’, ‘be quiet’ and ‘you’re being too emotional about this’ by of course, mainly men and we are tired of seeing men who say these things in positions of power. All were attempts to shut down my opinion and my voice, and the voice of other women who have faced similar conversations. But as much as all of this frustrates us, this also fuels us to continue fighting against the injustice we often face and like the frustrated American women will hopefully show on November the 6th, by no means will we be quiet and go away.
Zeireen Fuzurally is a Young Fabian member. Follow her on Twitter at @Zeireen