Kava(no) means no

Opinion

I am firmly of the belief that the United States of America has arrived at a tipping point. In the past few years, we have been rushing, flying even, toward this point, and it seems as if Brett Kavanagh might just be the weight needed to tip the scale.

In what was one of, if not the most captivating, polarizing, and divisive nominations and confirmations in the history of the Supreme Court; the nominee, Brett Kavanagh, was accused of multiple counts of sexual assault by multiple women, the most prominent being Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, a professor of psychology at Palo Alto University. Dr. Ford accused Kavanagh of pinning her on a bed and attempting to remove her cloths with the intent to rape her while drunk at a high school party before she managed to escape and lock herself in a bathroom.

The nature of these accusations would be deeply disturbing in a normal context; however, the fact they they are levied against a nominee for the highest court of law in the American judicial system makes them even more profound.

While the presence of such credible accusations in itself should have been cause enough for, at the very least, a comprehensive investigation into whether or not Judge Kavanagh is fit to serve as a justice on the Supreme court, his blatant partisanism throughout his confirmation hearings should most definitely have been disqualifying.

The blatant disregard for the allegations of Dr. Ford and for Kavanaugh’s aggressive and partisan testimony by member of the Senate reveal the current sickening state of partisan politics in which power and party are placed above morality and justice.

Throughout the interrogation of both Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh, the common sentiment expressed by most members of the Senate Judiciary Committee was that Dr. Ford was either mistaken in the identity of her attacker, or that she was making the entire scenario up. Both lines of reasoning are deeply flawed, but the latter exposes a much deeper and more sinister societal flaw that currently plagues the United States and has done so since its inception.

First, let me first address the absurd notion that someone who was not present at the incident could make a statement in which they imply that they believe Dr. Ford to be “mistaken” in her identification of Kavagaugh as her attacker.

This idea is based on a baseless scientific theory which posits that due to the severe trauma Dr. Ford endured, she has misidentified her attacker. The theory, which has spread like wildfire among Kavanaugh supporters, has absolutely no basis in scientific truth; in fact, research suggests quite the opposite.

Lila Davachi, a cognitive neuroscientist at Columbia University, compared the traumatic memory formation process to turning up the contrast on a photo. Important details are focused in on, while those in the background get washed out. “If someone has a gun on you you’ll remember the gun. There’s a snapshot of critical features.” said Dr. Davachi. “In this case it was a party with friends and she knew him.

It is ridiculous to say she wouldn’t remember who it was.” Therefore, if we submit to the idea that, as most senators have agreed to, Dr. Ford was indeed assaulted on that night, than science would point to Ford’s accusation of Kavanagh as her attacker as being 100% accurate.

Now that the first argument against Dr. Ford’s testimony has been debunked, we can focus on the more disquieting notion that Dr. Ford is lying. While this belief has absolutely no basis in fact other than speculation, it illustrates a much more malignant issue, which is the disturbing number of reported sexual assaults that either go unreported or ignored in this country. While these may seem like familiar words without much substance, let me offer some.

According to the National Sexual Violence Research Center, sexual assault is currently the most under-reported crime in the United States, with 63 percent of assaults not being reported to the police.

This statistic is staggering, especially considering the recent rise of the #MeToo movement. However, it is even more important to dig deeper into why this is the case. It just so happens that we have a perfect example in the treatment of Dr. Ford by not only the Senate, but ordinary Americans, as to why such a great number of sexual assaults go unreported.

Why would one voluntarily subject oneself to skepticism, ignominy, and a probing of one’s character? In Dr. Ford’s case, she was not risking only ignominy at the hands of police, family and friends, she was risking ignominy at the hands of the country, and most disgracefully, at the hands of the president.

Why on earth would anyone subject themselves to such vile cruelty unless they were not only telling the truth, but felt so strongly about the need to share it with the American people?

What Dr. Ford did was an act of incredible bravery and she should be supported, heard, and most importantly of all, believed, as should all those who report instances of sexual assault. President Trump said “It is a scary time for young men in America,” and he’s right. It sure as hell is a terrifying time to be a man who has committed sexual violence in America because it’s citizens have had enough. The disgraceful confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh will one day be looked on as a turning point, one in which those in positions of power began to realise that those who have the bravery to report sexual violence against them are the victims, not the accused.

While I believe that the case of Brett Kavanaugh will lead to discussion and progress on the issue of sexual violence and the treatment of victims, comments made by the Commander in Chief illustrate just how much further we have to go. At a rally in Mississippi, Trump mercilessly mocked Ford, saying, ““How did you get home? ‘I don’t remember.’ How’d you get there? ‘I don’t remember.’ Where is the place? ‘I don’t remember.’ How many years ago was it? ‘I don’t know, What neighborhood was it in? ‘I don’t know.’ Where’s the house? ‘I don’t know.’ Upstairs, downstairs, where was it? ‘I don’t know. But I had one beer. That’s the only thing I remember.’” This immature, degrading rhetoric is exactly the reason as to why 63 percent of victims don’t report the crime committed against them.

I believe change is possible; however, it will most certainly be difficult when the most powerful man in the land is part of and encouraging the problem.