Before coming to college, my mother forced me to watch a documentary titled “The Hunting Ground.” The documentary’s goal was to highlight the significant amount of sexual assault that takes place on college campuses and the number of reports not taken seriously from those who are the survivors of the sexual assault.
The film paints a grim picture for women entering college. However, with the #MeToo movement on the rise and women across the country demanding justice, I had hope that perhaps our society would begin to take sexual assaults and survivors’ accounts more seriously.
But, I lost that hope when Brett Kavanaugh was nominated and appointed as a Supreme Court justice, and Christine Blasey Ford was ridiculed in front of our nation as she was forced to recall the alleged assault.
Students had many conversations about this throughout campus. I heard quite a few men try to defend Kavanaugh to me. “Innocent until proven guilty,” they would cry. “Then what of Ford,” I wondered. A liar until proven truthful — well, they only wanted to see her as a liar. Hushed whispers took place across campus. Some angry, some worried, some completely scared.
The hearing juxtaposed Ford and Kavanaugh. Ford calmly stood in front of the nation’s elite retelling a night that forced her to undergo many years of therapy, while Kavanaugh sat in front of the nation, angry, loud and aggressively sharing his story.
Ford’s testimony was emotional with her recalling how Kavanaugh could not rape her because she happened to be wearing a swimsuit under her clothes. She recalled he and his high school friend’s laughter, saying, “Indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter, the laugh — the uproarious laughter between the two, and their having fun at my expense.”
Ford, like many women, convinced her high school self that because Kavanaugh did not rape her she should not come forward. However, when she saw that Kavanaugh was nominated and understood the power a Supreme Court position could have on the rights of women and other assault survivors, she contacted her California representative Anna Eshoo.
Kavanaugh delivered his testimony red-faced and spitting with rage.
Kavanaugh said, “This confirmation process has become a national disgrace. The Constitution gives the Senate an important role in the confirmation process, but you have replaced advice and consent with search and destroy.”
The hearing and Kavanaugh’s confirmation not only destabilize women’s rights but have forced countless survivors to relive their sexual assaults. The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, the organization that administers the National Sexual Assault Hotline, saw a 738 percent increase from its normal amount of calls during the hearing.
Many people, including some I have talked with on campus, claim that Ford is trying to gain publicity. However, RAINN also found that false reporting is relatively low, around two to 10 percent of around 321,500 sexual assaults occurring per year.
U.S. President Donald Trump commented on the struggles and threats Kavanaugh has had to face since the hearing. However, Trump did not comment on the threats and struggles Ford has had to face or respond to the fact that Ford cannot return to work as she is receiving too many death threats.
Trump says it’s a scary time for men in America, but he has never had to sit down with his male friends and ask them how they are getting across campus at night, if they will have someone to walk home with, and to text them if anything serious happens.
He has never had to walk across campus with keys gripped between his knuckles ready to strike if someone makes a move. Nor has he ever had a group of girls make derogatory remarks about his body.
Kavanaugh’s confirmation has altered the course of history. It has reminded every woman that she is not safe in America, and it’s made us clutch our keys a little bit tighter as we walk across campus. Because if we were to be sexually assaulted, the perpetrator would be innocent until proven guilty, but we would be liars until proven — well, we would just be liars.
But remember, it’s a scary time for men in America.
Email Emma Ford at firstname.lastname@example.org