The bigger problem with Brett Kavanaugh

Published 6:54 am Friday, September 21, 2018


Contributing columnist

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has recently come under more intense scrutiny because of alleged actions from his high school days and the boys club has gathered around him to protect him from his past.

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It happens with astounding frequency. A successful white male is accused of sexual misconduct and the chorus of, “Boys will be boys;” “It’s just locker room talk;” “I know him. He’d never do that;” and “He has such a promising future;” rings throughout the land. 

There is no end to his supporters, but what about his victim? Where are her supporters?

In our American culture, instead of locker room talk and girls will be girls, the clichés are demeaning and shameful. “Be a good girl;” “Don’t you wear that revealing skirt/shirt/dress/shorts/pants;” “Don’t lead men on;” “Don’t get drunk;” and “Don’t have sex.”

It is the girl’s responsibility to stay safe. When sexual assault or abuse happens, the first questions are about the victim’s clothes or actions. Where were you? What were you doing? What were you wearing? Were you drunk? Did you lead him on?

Victim blaming and shaming is ingrained by years of being told we (females) are the reason men can’t keep their hands to themselves.

Those who come forward after a long period of time are courageous. They have grappled with their shame, guilt and denial for years. While I do not know Kavanaugh’s victim or any of the women who have come forward in the past few years, I know how hard it is to talk about being abused. I was abused by a teacher for four years while in high school. No one knew about this until after I turned 50 years old. It was a tightly held secret for 35 years. That’s a long time to feel shameful about something for which I was not responsible.

The reason I came forward was because I finally learned that what happened to me was a crime. I was probably not his only victim. I wanted to publicize what he did to me in order help his other victims know they aren’t alone; for them to know it is okay to speak up and to get help.

After I started talking about my abuse, I went to the district attorney in the city where I grew up. The statute of limitations had run out, so I had no legal recourse.

I went to the local newspaper, in hopes they would run my story. They said thanks, but no thanks. Since there wasn’t a police report, they were not interested.

Dr. Christine Blasey Ford is the victim’s name in the Kavanaugh case. She kept her secret for many years, telling only her therapist. The trauma she experienced that night has never left her body. It never will. She is openly mocked and her honesty is questioned. She and her family have gone into hiding because of death threats.

Why would she come forward now? What does she have to gain?

She has her freedom to gain; freedom from carrying the weight of his assault on her when she was a child of 15 years old. Freedom to show she’s no longer afraid of him; freedom to stop living in the shadow of shame.

Victims need to be believed and protected. The accused absolutely have a right to a fair, objective investigation. The Kavanaugh hearing needs to be suspended until a full FBI investigation is completed, as was done with Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas. If Kavanaugh is innocent, allow the hearings to proceed to a vote. If he is guilty, he has no place on the bench of any court, much less the highest court in our land.

Bravo to Dr. Ford, and to all of the victims of these types of crimes, for speaking out and coming forward. You should be celebrated for your courage.

G. Elaine Wilson-Reddy, JD, is a professional educator, consultant and advocate. She lives in Danville.