Anyone old enough to remember Clarence Thomas’ confirmation hearing, remembers that Anita Hill came forward at the last minute. She testified and, true to any situation when a woman accuses a man of inappropriate sexual behavior ranging from harassment to rape, she was vilified.
For her courage, Anita Hill’s character was dragged through the mud by Republican members of the Senate Judiciary committee. Two of those members, Senator Orrin Hatch and Chair Senator Chuck Grassley are still on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
When the news broke that there was a letter accusing Judge Bret Kavanaugh of inappropriate sexual conduct that sounds to me like attempted rape, both Republican members wiped the dust off their responses to Anita Hill’s allegations, and repeated them, as if women don’t rate consideration of the specific facts of their circumstances.
That’s probably just a part of why the woman in this case insisted on anonymity. For misogynists, she is the 11th hour stunt by Democrats. For women who have seen this movie over and over again, she’s a woman who knows how this is likely to play out. If she reveals her identity by testifying, she can expect her character and motives to be questioned while Bret Kavanaugh is confirmed.
One might be tempted to believe that we live in a post misogynist world because of me too, just as some people wanted to believe we live in a post racial world because we elected a black president.
In both cases, baby steps have been made, but we are far from that enlightened society that recognizes the idiocy behind judging people based on the color of their skin or their gender.
We still live in a society where, a panel of men decide on women’s healthcare needs and our family planning decisions. It’s still possible to see a panel of men commenting on “if” the anonymous woman in the letter “is credible” or if her claim is “just a stunt.” It’s 2018, and the fact is, women still don’t have a seat at many tables where a group of men judge our credibility and assess if we are treated as equals.
We’re on the eve of putting a man on the Supreme Court who is an ideological extremist, a liar and assuming the claims in the letter are true: a violent criminal.
If you or I lied to Congress, we could face criminal charges – not a seat on the Supreme Court.
The alleged attempted rape is more complicated. Brett Kavanaugh will never face criminal charges – for the violent crime of attempted rape because of the statute of limitations. That doesn’t mean, the alleged crime should be dismissed as a stunt either. This is a person who will be put on the highest court in our country – for life. He will be ruling on all areas of the law, including criminal law – the rights of the accused and the rights of victims.
At the very least, the accusation laid out in the letter warrants delaying the process to investigate it. That’s especially true when the person who is accused will have a profound effect on the quality of our democracy, of our civil rights and even if being raped precludes us from receiving medical treatment – including life-saving medical treatment.
Someone empowered with such awesome responsibility, should have a moral character. Contrary to the Republican go-to excuse, “everyone” doesn’t lie and “everyone” isn’t accused of attempted rape.
Now, I don’t know with certainty if the accusation is true or not. I do know, as a woman who was raped as a teenager, that the fear of not being believed is paralyzing. The reflex is to try to forget it ever happened. I do know that you never really forget.
I can see how seeing your rapist, or attempted rapist rising to prominence can trigger memories and the guilt that goes with silence. That fear of not being believed re-emerges, more so because you know how this plays out. Not only do men defend the perp, so do women – especially if he is popular and/or powerful.
You also know that men will talk about you and judge you in political discussions as if they get it. The absence of a single woman at the table, tells you they don’t.
You also know that in 2018, there’s a sexual predator in the White House, and his Cabinet is composed almost exclusively of white men. His advisors fit the same description. We know from me too’s efforts that rape and other forms of sexual misconduct happen. It happens often and for many women, it’s buried for years and decades.
You know that women like Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi and Dianne Feinstein are vilified by men on any part of the spectrum for refusing to know their place: a place of silence, smiling on demand and vilifying women who “aren’t nice” because we insist on using our voices.
We don’t need or want knights in shining armor to explain what life is like for women followed by their mutual admiration for each other’s enlightenment. We want a seat at the table. And we don’t want an alleged attempted rapist on the Supreme Court.
Ms. Woodbury has a graduate degree in political science, with a minor in law. She is a qualified expert on political theory with a specific interest in the nexus between political theories and models and human rights.
Based on her interest in human rights and the threats that authoritarian regimes are to them, Ms. Woodbury’s masters thesis examined the influence of politics on the enforcement of international criminal law was cited in several academic studies.
Published work includes case summaries for the War Crimes Research Office.
She has an extensive background doing legal research in international and domestic law.
Ms. Woodbury’s work for politicusUSA includes articles on voting rights, the right to asylum and other civil/human rights.