Nearly 26 years ago, on the heels of Anita Hill’s 1991 testimony regarding sexual allegations against Clarence Thomas during his confirmation hearing for the Supreme Court, America saw the Year of the Woman. More women were elected to Congress than any previous decade. This historic tsunami of women converging on DC to close the gender gap in government and give women a say in the legislative process ushered in a new era of politics.
At least we thought.
In July, Justice Brett Kavanaugh was nominated to the Supreme Court. Kavanaugh was heralded as a champion of women’s rights and a boy scout of a SCOTUS nominee with an impressive resume and a squeaky clean record. Then a woman from the opposite end of the country found her voice and chose to speak up.
Enter Palo Alto Psychology professor Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.
Dr. Ford came forward with a harrowing account of sexual assault in the Summer of 1982 and named Brett Kavanaugh as her assailant. On Thursday, America saw a sequel to Anita Hill’s 1991 testimony before the all-male Senate Judiciary Committee during Clarence Thomas’s confirmation hearing for the Supreme Court.
For Trump and the GOP this was problematic.
Often pegged as the Gentlemen Only Party, the GOP has worked hard to position itself as a big tent party where all races and genders are welcomed. Since selecting Trump, a candidate who has a reputation for disrespecting and objectifying women, as their nominee, Republicans have found themselves on shaky ground with female voters.
On Thursday, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford came forward and addressed her allegations of sexual assault by Judge Brett Kavanaugh. The Ford/Kavanaugh hearing offered insight into the struggles male Republicans have when it comes to their female counterparts. It was clear they did not fully know how to handle a woman, let alone one who had been a victim of sexual assault.
In true political fashion, the Senate Judiciary Committee was able to take a victim’s claim and turn it into a partisan issue. Leaving many to wonder if Congress can legislate a woman’s body, why is a small subset of elected officials unable to come to a consensus with how to proceed when a woman comes forward as a victim of sexual assault.
The #MeToo movement gained ground with women coming forward to share their stories of being victims of sexual assault, but Dr. Ford’s testimony on Thursday will no doubt be the spark that ignites women to show up to the polls in November. By Dr. Ford coming forward, she gave a voice to sexual assault victims everywhere who have suffered in silence. And for this, Republicans should be concerned. With midterm elections around the corner, Thursday’s hearing has the legs to give way to a resurgence of the year of the woman.
Regardless if Kavanaugh is confirmed to the Supremes, Republicans have left a bad taste in the mouth of women everywhere and there is little doubt that they will pay for this for (at least) the next two elections.
Much like 1992, 2018 is preparing to become the year of women, and thanks to social media, the year could turn into a decade. Unlike issues such as gun control and healthcare that divide and conquer at the ballot box, sexual assault has no place in the political arena, and yet, both sides have effectively turned it into a political football.
As a Conservative female I am aghast at the SJC and Brett Kavanaugh for not halting the hearing and asking for a complete FBI investigation. Similarly, I am appalled at Democrats for not bringing this to light sooner.
Some say this is the Dems way of getting even for Merrick Garland, and to that I ask have we really become this petty? If the answer is yes, then maybe it’s time we as an electorate put the check on our elected officials who have overstayed their welcome on Capitol Hill.
November is around the corner and, hopefully, we as a nation will remember how horrible it was to watch a woman recount the horrific assault she suffered at the age of 15 when we show up to vote on November 6th.
The stark reality is, one in three women and one in six men will be a victim of sexual assault in their lifetime. This makes the chance of us knowing a victim high, as such the best thing we as an electorate can do is show up on Election Day and shake up Congress. After all, the trajectory of this country could be changed by a single vote.