CW: The following editorial contains material that some readers may find sensitive. Mention of sexual assault.
As of today, three women have come forward accusing Judge Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault. While most news outlets have been referring to the nature of the claims as “sexual misconduct,” we at The Knox Student would like to be as blunt as possible: these allegations all include instances of sexual assault, and should be referred to as such.
Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, Deborah Ramirez, and now Julie Swetnick have all accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault and sexual misconduct during his high school and college years, at Georgetown Preparatory School and Yale University, respectively.
Kavanaugh, his lawyers, and just about everybody in the White House have been quick to defend Kavanaugh, saying that none of this even happened. In the case of Swetnick, Kavanaugh is claiming to not even know who she is. President Donald Trump has taken to Twitter, as per usual, to call the entire ordeal a “con game” obviously made up by the Democrats to stall Kavanaugh’s approval process.
Our society conditions us to think this way, that women could not possibly be telling the truth about their experiences, but are instead just pawns in a much larger game of trying to take down powerful men. We are conditioned to not believe women, to take the man’s word, to let him off easy because he was “young,” or because he’s so much older now.
That isn’t fair to survivors, and that isn’t fair to these survivors who have bravely come forward, who are now under national scrutiny. One tweet from Trump is all it takes to receive death threats these days. These women are probably fearing for their lives.
We believe them. We stand by the idea that if a man assaulted women in college, he’s probably not fit to be making decisions that will affect all women in this country. To the argument, “Why should one mistake plague his life,” we ask, was it just one mistake? We ask, why must women suffer just so the Republican party can get what it wants? We ask, why are we always concerned about the hurt feelings of the men who have assaulted people? We ask, what about the survivors?
For those who ask why it took so long for these women to come forward, we have yet another set of questions: Why would women, who have constantly been misbelieved, shamed, ridiculed, and harassed when they speak up, be in a hurry to tell anyone? Why would they be rushing to be embarrassed and potentially traumatized even further?
Frankly, before a man becomes a pivotal member of the United States Supreme Court seems like a perfectly reasonable time to speak up.
Men, especially white men, get away with this kind of behavior day in and day out, as women are continually undermined. We ask the members of the Knox community to be supportive of the survivors they know, to believe survivors and to approach the news cycle with empathy. We cannot let this become our new normal. We simply cannot.
We already let a sexual predator into the White House. We need to do better.