Who is Brett Kavanaugh? If this question was asked before September 2018, the answer would be that he’s a Yale Law School graduate, previously a United States Circuit Judge for the United States Court of Appeals. However, if this question was asked after September 2018, the answer would be that he’s an alleged rapist.
In September 2018, allegations were made by Dr Christine Blasey Ford, accusing Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her. Ford claimed that, in the early 1980s, Kavanaugh drunkenly pinned her down while covering her mouth and trying to disrobe her, to the point where she feared for her life. But she’s not the only one who has come out with allegations against Kavanaugh. Following Ford’s allegations, two other women have come out with their own accusations of sexual assault.
Kavanaugh’s response? In addition to “categorically and unequivocally” denying the allegation made by Dr Ford, he also tried to play the victim – choking up during his opening statements and blaming Ford for ruining his family and good name. Whether or not the allegations of Kavanaugh are true, he embodies rape culture.
Rape culture entails the normalization of sexual violence due to societal attitudes about gender and sexuality. Kavanaugh has repeatedly been dishonest, downplayed his bad habits, been complicit in victim-blaming, dehumanizing women, and most importantly, he’s protected by wealthy white men and a patriarchal system. These all fall under the pattern of rape culture. The only reason why the allegations are shocking is because they are being made against one of the nominees of the Supreme Court. When taken in an everyday context, these allegations become seemingly normal. In the US, about one in four women in college is a victim of rape or attempted rape, over the course of a college degree. Of these victims, less than 5 percent report the rapes. What is prevalent in these sexual assaults is the presence of high alcohol consumption.
Kavanaugh has repeatedly downplayed his drinking habits in college. However, his former classmate disagrees, saying that it is a “blatant mischaracterization”. Other classmates have also described Kavanaugh as an excessive drinker in college. These testimonials all help to cast doubt upon Kavanaugh’s credibility. This is just one of the many examples of Kavanaugh being untruthful. He has also misrepresented the testimonies of the witnesses to the alleged assault, by saying that the witnesses agreed that the assault “didn’t happen”. What the witnesses said was really that they didn’t remember the night in question, not that the assault didn’t occur.
It is interesting to note that Kavanaugh testified that he knew nothing about the second sexual assault allegations until they were published. However, text messages reveal that both Kavanaugh and his staff were aware of these allegations months before it was published, and that they were coming up with a plan to undercut the victim’s story.
Senetor Jeff Flake, who demanded a FBI investigation into these sexual assault claims before his nomination was sent to the Senate floor for a vote, put out that if a judge was found to be lying, his nomination would be over. But whether or not the FBI comes to the conclusion that Kavanaugh is lying, there is sufficient evidence showing that, even under oath, Kavanaugh has refrained from telling the truth, which should be enough to veto his nomination, or lead to him being disbarred. However, he continued on to be nominated in to the US Supreme Court, with minimal repercussions, if any at all.
Donald Trump, who was the one who nominated Kavanaugh in the first place, dismissed Ford’s accusations by saying that she would have filed a police report immediately if it did happen. What he fails to take into consideration is that majority of the victims are afraid to speak out, especially when their assailant is someone as powerful as Kavanaugh. Even today, after testifying before the Senate, Ford has to constantly ward off death threats, and had to move away from her family home to ensure her safety.
More and more women are speaking up about their experiences with sexual violence in a bid to get others who are facing the same problem to speak up and get help as well. It does not mean that rape culture is fading, or will be fading any time soon – on the contrary, Kavanaugh’s nomination serves as a grave reminder that rape culture is prevalent, even amongst those who govern us. It’s time to stop this problem of feeding into the normalization of sexual assault, to hold those responsible accountable for their actions, and to band together to reject rape culture. Are we really going to let people like Brett Kavanaugh rule over us?