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Reclaiming the Standards of Sexual Assault

As of September 24, there were two charges of sexual misconduct leveled against Supreme Court Justice Nominee Brett Kavanaugh. On Thursday September 27, Kavanaugh testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee and strongly denied the sexual assault allegations against Dr. Ford’s claims.

Dr. Christine Blasey Ford was the first woman to come forward, claiming that an intoxicated Kavanaugh attempted to force himself on her at a high school party, raising the volume of the music and putting his hand over her mouth to cover her screams. A second allegation emerged in the New Yorker Magazine, stating that during Kavanaugh’s freshman year at Yale, the politician—again while intoxicated at a party—exposed himself to Deborah Ramirez and pushed his penis up to her face.

Both Dr. Ford and Ms. Ramirez have opted to step out into the public light, bearing scrutiny and upheaval in their own private lives. Their allegations are in no way statements of political allegiance; rather, these women have chosen to stand up for the rights of women and prevent the standard of the President from becoming the standard of America.

This piece is not intended to serve as an examination of the allegations; that task should and hopefully will be delegated to the Senate Judiciary Committee prior to their possibly extending a lifetime offer to Judge Kavanaugh. Instead, this article illustrates some of the reasons why particular individuals in power should not hold positions of privilege if their ideologies ignore and excuse issues like sexual assault and discrimination.

“Grab 'em by the pussy” has become perhaps one of the most infamous phrases of the Trump campaign. However, given its frequent repetition, I believe that people think of it too comically and forget how intrinsically degrading it is. This seems to be an all too common trend in the Trump era. With each action more ludicrous than the last, it is easy to get lost in the news stories and late night tweets of the ever-growing “Trumpism.”

For generations, conservatives have railed against the demoralization of society and advocated for a return to traditional family values. Why is it, then, that when someone like Harvey Weinstein was brought to justice by the “Me Too” movement, conservatives praised the justice system, but when the same allegations were leveled against Trump and Kavanaugh, standards of leadership, honor, and accountability for one’s actions are tossed out the window?

The President is not just a creator of policy; he is the figurehead of the population, a role model, and the image of America abroad. It is essential that the President set a positive example in his nominations of individuals to major positions in government and law (such as that of a U.S. Supreme Court Justice.) People elected into power have the responsibility to honor and uphold democratic values of equality and respect. Accordingly, treating women disrespectfully and stating that their claims of sexual assault are lies is no way to lead.

Trump and Kavanaugh are very much a part of the “Good 'Ole Boys Club,” to use a favorite term of my dad’s. That is to say these men have benefited greatly from their parents' socioeconomic statuses, attending some of the most elite schools in the country and having the world at their fingertips in all other respects. I don’t believe this is a valid excuse to behave poorly towards others. In fact, these platforms should be utilized to help those who in need. Unfortunately, however, these two leaders have acted in ways that are totally inconsistent with this country's foundational premise that we are all created equal.

Notably, just as discrimination cannot disappear overnight, equality doesn't appear out of thin air. While women have made great strides in terms of legal victories, the battle is far from over. Kavanaugh's nomination has become a metaphorical standard for the kind of society this country aspires to. If we want to hold onto our moral center, then our legislative and judicial bodies needs to take a stand and demand that all allegations of sexual assault be taken seriously. It is not too late to show that society by and large is aware of the discriminations of the past and is taking the necessary steps to prevent them in the present.

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