Women of NJ07 Discuss the Ford-Kavanaugh Hearing - NJ7 Citizens for Change

Women of NJ07 Discuss the Ford-Kavanaugh Hearing

We asked women in NJ07 to share their thoughts about the Ford-Kavanaugh hearing. This is what they wrote:

I feel a deep sense of embarrassment for our nation when looking at the debate over Kavanaugh’s confirmation. I’ve read too many comments on Facebook vilifying Dr. Ford, calling what happened to Dr. Ford insignificant, or denying what happened to Dr. Ford because it occurred too long ago for her to remember. It pains me to know that some individuals continue to discredit sexual assault victims. Even more so now, it pains me to know that people’s political affiliations and hatred towards their political counterparts, in this case the Democrats, are overshadowing their ability to stand on the side of justice and morality. I had hope that after the #MeToo movement, we were going to see lasting, progressive change when it came to the issue of sexual assault, but Kavanaugh’s potential confirmation instead does the opposite.

In elementary and middle school, I remember learning how honorable it is to be a Supreme Court Justice and how they are wise, composed, and respectful. After watching Kavanaugh’s hearing, he does not embody any of these characteristics. If he were confirmed, it saddens me to think that the younger generation will no longer hold the position of Supreme Court Justice to the same prestige I once learned.

Caitlyn Park, Student Activist

This week I vacillate between blood-boiling anger at the pack of men who are running our country and absolute pride in and gratitude for Dr. Ford and the women like her who risk everything to stand up for what’s right. This is one of the lowest points we’ve experienced since the 2016 election and it makes me feel wrung out and tired that we have to keep fighting these ridiculous battles. But I find solace in the strength and resolve of the good people in my life; we’ll pick each other up, keep moving forward, and redouble our efforts to effect progress and change. Today I rededicate myself to my absolute determination that my three young daughters will not grow up in a society that treats women this way. The outrage experienced by decent people around the country this week is heartening. I am hopeful that things maybe have finally, finally reached a fever pitch and perhaps the dam is starting to break. And November 6 is just a few short weeks away!

Kristin Cohen, Co-founder, Cranford Rising

Today I am sad, sad that my life is in the hands of people who will vote for someone like Kavanaugh, he refused to answer questions, he was completely unhinged, he is a liar on many counts and the republicans have refused to share the documentation that all the other Supreme Court justices have had to share, that should be enough to vote NO. Yet, I fear this unfit, liar, self promoting, self entitled garbage may be voted in. Shame on the USA, shame on every person that votes for him, VOTE THEM OUT AS SOON AS YOU CAN, level the playing field so you have a brighter future, a fair future.

Mary Eichler, Long Valley

The Republicans call Dr. Ford’s accusations smears. So they should call for an FBI investigation so we can know as much as we can about what happened. The fact that they refuse to is telling. The fact that Kavanaugh won’t call for an investigation to clear his name is more telling.

Figure out how she knew that Mark Judge and PJ would be noted on his calendar on July 1st. Figure out why his yearbook talked about the devil’s triangle. Figure out why his yearbook has several references to heavy drinking, and his peers have cited his heavy drinking, yet he testifies that he never drank to excess.

The fact that Kavanaugh couldn’t tell the obvious truth yesterday about the yearbook entry about Renate, or the yearbook entry about boofing, or the yearbook entry about devil’s triangle, indicate to me that he is a liar and unfit to be a judge. His inappropriate demeanor during yesterday’s testimony just adds to the evidence of his unfitness.

He may be leading an exemplary life now, and may have contributed as a public servant. But that is even more reason for him to feel comfortable truthfully answering basic questions about youthful indiscretions and mistakes. He failed to do so.

I believe her. He has perjured and dishonored himself. He is unfit to serve as a judge.

Anne Clark, Chester

When NJ7 Citizens for Change asked me to write about the Kavanaugh hearings, it gave me pause.  How could I do justice to the bravery it took for Dr. Christine Blasey Ford to stand before a hostile audience and relive her trauma?  How could I address to the young women in college, in high school, and even younger, whose are now learning that speaking out about sexual assault means subjecting yourself to ridicule in the form of a kangaroo court focused not on justice but on discrediting the victim?  How could I provide hope that someday the futures of sexual assault survivors will be taken as seriously as the futures of their assailants?

The answer is, I can’t.  

What I can do, though, is amplify the voices of my sisters who are hurting, those for whom the allegations against Brett Kavanaugh have brought up traumatic memories that they would rather forget.  We are in pain, we are furious, and we are done being polite.  Yesterday, my Facebook timeline was filled with stories of women and non-men who, at one time or another in their lives, experienced sexual violence; it cannot be overstated how common – and how scarring – sexual abuse is.

When I tell you that, no matter who you are, you know a woman who has been victimized, who has had a man think that he is entitled to violate her space, her body, her safety, I am not exaggerating.  On average, one in 6 women in America has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape, but that number is even higher for people of color, transgender, genderqueer and gender non-conforming folks.  And, remember, those are just the ones who report – many more suffer in silence because they are rightfully afraid that their voices will not be heard or respected. 

In a country whose moral compass has long pointed away from justice for those who are not male, white and rich, it is disheartening, yet not entirely surprising, that Brett Kavanaugh will almost certainly be confirmed as a Supreme Court justice.  This means that a man whose sense of entitlement was so blatant during Dr. Ford’s testimony, and who is so clearly partisan, will sit on the highest court in the nation. This position will afford him the opportunity to seek revenge on his detractors – the same revenge that prevents survivors of sexual assault from speaking up.

So, now what?  First, I urge everyone to check on those you hold dear, today and always.  Believe them, hold them in your hearts, offer your non-judgmental support, and honor their trauma, even if you don’t understand it.  Put aside the messages that we’ve all internalized about sexual assault; the idea that because she was drunk/high/out after dark/promiscuous/dressed “provocatively” she is responsible for her own sexual assault is pure bullshit. If you’re one of the lucky ones who can’t say #MeToo, be the voice of someone too exhausted, too broken, too terrified, to speak her truth.  

And, men, specifically, it’s long past time for you to really show up. The system is working exactly as it was designed to, which, I’m sure, is fine for you, but really fucking sucks for us. Gather your bros and demand that they recognize that your sexual desire, your need for power, your sense of entitlement, never, ever, supersedes our right to safety and freedom from sexual violence. Be the bystander who makes the assailant, not the victim, uncomfortable. He’ll survive; she might not.

(Side note: If your reaction to this piece, or to being held accountable for your silence by the women in your lives is #notallmen, just stop. That defensiveness is neither necessary nor useful. Actions speak louder than words; support survivors in a such a way that your commitment and/or whether you are “one of the good ones” can never be questioned.)

I can’t offer a hopeful message today – these are unquestionably dark times –  but I can guarantee this:  We are not going away. 

Ashley DeNegre, Steering Committee, Hunterdon County Anti-Racism Coalition

If you would like to add you voice to this conversation, please contact us.

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