No Longer at Ease

Leslie Loredo, Class of 2021

I knew the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings were going to end with all of us disappointed. I knew he would be appointed the next Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States; an action that would not only impact the Court for decades to come but also place a sexual assaulter on arguably the most respected court in the world. And some of us had to fake being surprised at this outcome or, like myself, had to wallow in our anger because this is exactly what we expected the minute the news broke of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations. We live in a time of continuances, not anomalies. There is a narrative around white men in positions of power. They are accused of a heinous act, receive a slap on the wrist (if anything at all), and then proceed to acquire more power, more influence, and more acceptance of their actions.

To compare the Kavanaugh-Ford confirmation hearings to that of Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill on a basic level highly ignores what I consider the deciding factor in the latter case; race. There is no doubt in my mind that, had Anita Hill been a white woman, Clarence Thomas would not currently be seated on the Supreme Court. If Hill had been a white woman, the ever-prevalent rhetoric of a “dangerous black man”hurting an “innocent white woman” would have dominated the conversation, even if it was never explicitly stated. Yet, Anita Hill was a black woman and this made it easier for those in power, primarily white men, to silence her and diminish her experience of assault. I am in no way attempting to diminish Dr. Blasey Ford’s experience; instead, I am stating that this comparison is only similar on the surface. We cannot use the Thomas-Hill case as a basis for our recent situation; we must look deeper and acknowledge what makes this case different.

One major difference between Hill and Ford is that Ford is living in a time period of increased awareness over the way women are sexually assaulted and our need to hear about their varying experiences. Society is much more willing to hear about this and there is a support base unparalleled by any in the past. Dr. Blasey Ford has not had an easy time. Politicians attempted to refuse her request for an FBI investigation before testifying. Especially horrid to me was Congressman Kevin Cramer’s statement on the issue. He stressed that the allegations were “even more absurd” than those of Anita Hill’s because the incident occurred when they were drunk teenagers. He attempted to characterize the incident as nothing more than two teenagers being under the influence and charge Ford’s lack of detailed memory as insufficient evidence for denying Kavanaugh a seat on the bench. It was vile and disgusting and fed into our culture of blaming the victim, but, hopefully, the #MeToo movement helped Ford find strength within herself and those who stood alongside her to ensure that the nomination process was not easy for Kavanaugh. While I knew that, no matter what, Kavanaugh would be a Justice on the Supreme Court, I also stood strong in the conviction that his ascent would not be easy and that fact would only make women who have hidden from their experiences with sexual assault stronger, louder, and bolder than before.