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U.S. Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh has been accused of sexual assault. Photo: CC, Pixabay, Succo.

Kavanaugh’s hearing is another reminder that sexual assault isn’t taken seriously

This week I stayed at work for an extra hour to watch the Brett Kavanaugh hearing because I don’t have cable, and let me tell you, it was not worth it.

Don’t get me wrong, while Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony was hard to watch, it was brave, and commendable. Kavanaugh’s testimony was hard to watch for a different reason. This middle-aged white man, and Supreme Court Justice nominee (which is a lifetime position by the way), was crying about calendars and beer while yelling about how unfair it was for him and his family to have to be there doing that. Frankly, it was embarrassing, even as a viewer.

While Dr. Ford was level headed, and answered every question asked of her, Kavanaugh whined like a child, and came into his testimony angry and annoyed, as though the allegations of sexual assault he’s faced with are just another hiccup on his path to success. A minor annoyance. It was a stark contrast to when she was reminded that she was not on trial, because honestly, I forgot she wasn’t up until that point. The hearing itself while disappointing, was in no way surprising, and it speaks to a larger societal issue. We need to do more than just believe women; we need to care.

No one in that courtroom could deny that Dr. Ford has no reason to lie. Coming forward and testifying against Kavanaugh was not her first choice, and she did so at great personal risk and financial loss to herself and her family. The issue here isn’t that she could be lying, it’s that she could be telling the truth.

Dr. Ford’s allegations aren’t ridiculous, they’re believable. She didn’t accuse Kavanaugh of rape, she spoke about an incident that occurred at a party wherein she was groped without her consent, and feared for her life. This incident isn’t unique, and in her words, wasn’t “remarkable” to anyone but her. In fact, some people may even wonder what the big deal was. So she was groped. Happens all the time. That’s the problem.

Society has normalized sexual assault to the point where we’re willing to allow our judges to get a pass, because “boys will be boys,” or because it happened in the past.

Women are constantly degraded for coming forward with sexual assault allegations against their male peers, whether it be when the assault occurs, or years later. We are conditioned to believe that it’s shameful for us to have been assaulted in the first place, and our justice system is set up in a way where even if we do come forward, we rarely get the justice we seek. When women do finally speak out, we are questioned incessantly about the choices we made; what we wore, where we went, what we drank. And if we weren’t raped, we’re told to “lighten up.”

This is a cultural issue, born from movies, and songs, and passed down from generation to generation, and it needs to stop. This kind of treatment is enough to discourage women from seeking justice, and the fact that it’s reached the Supreme Court of the United States of America is sickening, but also eye opening.

Dr. Ford’s testimony opened the door to the kinds of assault that are dismissed because they don’t seem as serious or because no one cares to address them. There were people at that party who could have helped. There are people at the parties we go to now who still can. It’s time we all did.

Believing women isn’t enough. Nothing will change unless we start giving a damn about the rape culture that’s been the narrative on campuses and society for decades.