Thrust into the National spotlight by the media, the victim of sexual assault told her story before a primarily male Senate Judicial Committee and the entire world, only to be doubted, her life threatened and mocked by the President of the United States.
Over the last two years, it remains without question that the public humiliation of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford is perhaps the most disturbing experience suffered by an individual since Republican took control of government.
When Blasey caught wind that Brett Kavanaugh, her old high school classmate, had made the shortlist of Donald Trump’s potential Supreme Court Nominees, her heart climbed into her throat. She knew that name, and remembered him well. 30 years prior, during a gathering of friends at a suburban Baltimore home, Kavanaugh, along with his friend, Mark Judge, allegedly attempted to rape her in an upstairs bedroom. She knew this was not an individual who should be sitting in a seat on the highest court in the country. In an effort to provide the information she possessed regarding his past behavior and her experience, she reached out to several local leaders, including Senator Diane Feinstein. Her goal was not to disrupt the life of the Man she accused, but to inform the opinion of those who would be determining the quality of his character o they would have a more expansive insight into his history and behavior which saw her become an unwitting victim.
Her anonymity was important to her. She wasn’t interested in drawing attention to herself. The 51 year old professor of psychology has a family to protect and a job at a University where her focus must remain on her students. She wasn’t interested in upending her life, nor in destroying Kavanaughs. In her own words, and possessing the awareness that he would likely be responsible for deciding cases in involving sexual assault survivors or legislation that required neutrality in determining the future of women’s rights, she said “I’m terrified, but I felt it was my civil duty to be here.”
Here, being before a scrutinizing committee comprised mostly of older sneering men who resented the fact that they had to suffer the inconvenience she presented. She never wanted to take on the task of testifying before the Judiciary Committee, but much to her chagrin, an as yet unidentified individual leaked her name to the mainstream media. Immediately she was being harassed at home, at work in the presence of her students, and her family found themselves in the middle of a growing firestorm of unsolicited attention. She left her home and went into hiding to avoid the onslaught of death threats and relentless pursuits by the press for comment. Hoping to spare her family potentially dangerous exposure, she left them behind when she realized that her privacy had been compromised and, consequentially, presented very real dangers.
Only after serious consideration did she agree to appear before Senate amidst Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings. While she admitted she had nothing to hide, the invasive attention frightened her, but her conscience would not allow her to remain silent. At great risk to her security and long term ability to thrive in a hostile political climate she gave one of the most poised, powerful statements ever given on the senate floor regarding a Supreme Court Nominee since Anita Hill 27 years earlier. She was the first to do it in the post #MeToo era.
She confessed to her closest friends that her greatest fear was subjecting herself to intense ridicule, hatred and that decision ultimate be for nothing.
She was right.
Republicans of the committee elected not to participate in questioning Dr. Ford, instead enlisting an outside prosecutor to ask questions on their behalf. Ford answered every question with conviction and, even when trembling with emotion, detailed the alleged attack with alarming detail. For three hours she sat before the world and recounted one of the most painful experiences a woman can face- sexual assault.
And the it was Kavanaugh’s turn. He came in with his lips puckered, his brow furrowed and attacked those who questioned him on details of Dr. Ford’s story. He scowled at the democratic senators who sought clarity and instead of answering most questions, aggressively fired back with inflammatory questions of his own before claiming the assault allegations- which are now coming from 2 other women besides Dr. Ford- as a political it job motivated by the Clintons and promising those who on the Democratic side of the room; “What goes around comes around.” Indeed, he went into what can only be defined as an epic meltdown, one quite unbecoming of a Supreme Court Judge.
Most unusual about the trial was the sudden re-entry of the Committee Republicans who had abandoned the hearing during Dr. Ford’s testimony. Suddenly, they took their seats and began attacking their Democratic colleagues in defense of Kavanaugh, despite his combative demeanor. Senator Lindsay Graham was reduced to episodes of shouting at the Senators on the other side of the aisle claiming “A good man is being ruined!”
But, he wasn’t ruined. The Republicans who supported Kavanaugh remained unwavering in their stance, in spite of Dr. Ford’s testimony just moments before demonstrating that her appearance was inconsequential to their decision to confirm the nominee as quickly as possible.
And they did.
On Friday, every Republican with the exception of Lisa Murkowski, a female senator from Alaska, will vote “Yes” to give Kavanaugh a lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court.
Had Dr. Ford know that her personal sacrifice would not even be given moderate consideration by the men wielding power in Senate, she likely would have stayed silent.
This is, of course, why most women are too afraid to tell their stories. The #MeToo movement and it’s necessity in our male dominated culture was put on full display before a fixated global audience. We watched and learned exactly why #MeToo is a vital instrument of change… with a very long way to go.
As Dr. Ford attempts to resume a normal life after being served no form of justice- not even the courtesy of a thorough FBI investigation to either corroborate her testimony or exonerate Kavanaugh from the accusations leveled against him by both Ford and two women. Instead, they ignored individuals who attempted to contact them insisting they possessed evidence proving Kavanaugh lied under oath multiple times. They never bothered speaking to the accusers or the accused. They never interviewed witnesses, nor did they subject Kavanaugh to a polygraph test as Dr. Ford willingly took and passed.
It was evident that there was never any intention of a result other than the confirmation of Kavanaugh, regardless of Dr. Ford’s terstimony or the other accusers who had come forward, Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick. Neither were contacted by the FBI in pursuit of the information available. Commitee Leader Chuck Grassey gave the FBI one week to complete the investigation… which was submitted and deemed complete three days before the deadline. That’s right. It took them 4 days to do a “Thorough Investigation.” Today, that investigation has left more questions than answers, with most calling it a cover-up rather than a genuine inquiry into the accounts of the alleged victims. Some senators agree.
That theory is not entirely unreasonable. Despite President Trump have 2 other qualified Judges on his short list, Judge Kavanaugh as the only one who said publicly that he would never prosecute as sitting president… and given the unending revelations coming out each day that implicate the President in illegal activities, it makes sense he would insist on placing his own judge on the court knowing he would not hold him accountable for any criminal conduct- even if only to exact his previously implied revenge against democrats who challenged his nomination.
We would be negligent to allow our ever shifting attention during these chaotic times fall away from Dr. Ford. To many American women, she is a hero. To some she is a martyr, unjustly persecuted for believing she owed it to her country to testify, even at unfathomable consequence.
To Dr. Ford, we own an enormous debt of gratitude… and an apology. History will remember her as another woman that our male-driven government has failed in pursuit of power.
History will also write her name indelibly in its pages as a woman who mobilized millions of others, and set them free from shackles of shame as they tell their own stories in her wake.