FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

The Kavanaugh Hearings: Text and Subtext

When OJ was acquitted the reactions of white Americans and black Americans illustrated how divergent our world views were. White America was appalled that someone who seemed so obviously to be guilty had gotten off, where black America saw an African-American finally beating a justice system that was rigged against them. The Kavanaugh hearings provided us with a similar experience. We saw two much different views and sets of values on display. On one side were all the women who had been victims of sexual assault and other expressions of misogyny along with the liberal men who sympathized with them. On the other side were all those white males who may or may not have abused women but who identified with someone they saw as unjustly accused, and with them were wives and mothers who sided with them. Underlying those reactions was a subtext on abortion and the Supreme Court. Those on the right who had voted for Trump did so in part to get a conservative judge appointed who would support their anti-abortion views. They saw the Democrats engaging in stealth by using Dr. Blasey Ford as a pawn to prevent Kavanaugh from being appointed because of how views on abortion.

Since abortion is such a divisive issue in America, Republican Senators shifted the focus to a defense of Kavanaugh by framing the narrative as an attack on him and his family over what they termed a questionable case of sexual assault. Republican Senators allowed Blasey Ford to tell her story, but because they controlled the event, they were able to frame her story in a way that lessoned its impact. And since the other parties who were willing to appear and who would have substantiated her accusations were not invited, Americans had to base their reactions on Blasey Ford’s account alone when, in fact, the other accusations along with Ford’s, create a compelling case against Kavanaugh’s character.In addition, Blasey Ford’s story includes sexual assault, but that is just part of the story. She was actually, for a short period of time, abducted by two older boys who pulled her into a room and locked the door. One looked on while the other, Kavanaugh, climbed on top of her and covered her mouth. The fact that Judge and Kavanaugh locked the door and in essence, gagged Ford, shows they knew that what they were doing was wrong. To a fifteen-year- old girl, this must have been terrifying. She was taken, silenced, pinned and attacked. This is sexual assault as an expression of power. Yet supporters of Kavanaugh didn’t really consider what happened to Blasey Ford. It’s as if they compartmentalized Blasey Ford’s story, dismissing the objectionable elements and reducing it to “horseplay” and “boys being boys.”

The mistake the Democrats made was in not framing Ford’s story as more than that and in not having the other victims: Swetnick and Ramirez come forward as well. If all three women, along with Kavanaugh’s freshman roommate (James Roche), had appeared on The View, The Today Show, etc., Kavanaugh would have been toast. It’s obvious that the Democrats on the Judiciary Committee did not think this through. Of course, Kavanaugh should not have been confirmed on the basis of the plethora of lies he told in the hearings. Not to mention the partisan nature of his remarks and the disrespect he showed Democratic Senators.

Whether Feinstein and company were intentionally using Blasey Ford as a proxy to attack a pro-life candidate or not, it wasn’t a great idea. The hearings clearly demonstrated the continuing sexist nature of a country where victimized women are ignored or attacked (Blasey Ford is still being threatened and is unable to return to work) and dismissed by men in power.Republicans and Trump managed to tap into a fear that American males, and some of their wives, have of women who attempt to confront their attackers.

It is true that the law is not very good at dealing with sexual assault since there is often little evidence to support a victim’s accusations. It may be necessary for a cultural shift to take place through changes in policies at work and in schools to foment the type of changes in attitude that have occurred in regard to homosexuality. That shift is happening, but our government, run by old white males, hasn’t quite caught up to it.

 

More articles by:
bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
Weekend Edition
August 16, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Uncle Sam was Born Lethal
Jennifer Matsui
La Danse Mossad: Robert Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein
Rob Urie
Neoliberalism and Environmental Calamity
Stuart A. Newman
The Biotech-Industrial Complex Gets Ready to Define What is Human
Nick Alexandrov
Prevention Through Deterrence: The Strategy Shared by the El Paso Shooter and the U.S. Border Patrol
Jeffrey St. Clair
The First Dambuster: a Coyote Tale
Eric Draitser
“Bernie is Trump” (and other Corporate Media Bullsh*t)
Nick Pemberton
Is White Supremacism a Mental Illness?
Jim Kavanagh
Dead Man’s Hand: The Impeachment Gambit
Andrew Levine
Have They No Decency?
David Yearsley
Kind of Blue at 60
Ramzy Baroud
Manifestos of Hate: What White Terrorists Have in Common
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The War on Nature
Martha Rosenberg
Catch and Hang Live Chickens for Slaughter: $11 an Hour Possible!
Yoav Litvin
Israel Fears a Visit by Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib
Neve Gordon
It’s No Wonder the Military likes Violent Video Games, They Can Help Train Civilians to Become Warriors
Susan Miller
That Debacle at the Border is Genocide
Ralph Nader
With the Boeing 737 MAX Grounded, Top Boeing Bosses Must Testify Before Congress Now
Victor Grossman
Warnings, Ancient and Modern
Meena Miriam Yust - Arshad Khan
The Microplastic Threat
Kavitha Muralidharan
‘Today We Seek Those Fish in Discovery Channel’
Louis Proyect
The Vanity Cinema of Quentin Tarantino
Bob Scofield
Tit For Tat: Baltimore Takes Another Hit, This Time From Uruguay
Nozomi Hayase
The Prosecution of Julian Assange Affects Us All
Ron Jacobs
People’s Music for the Soul
John Feffer
Is America Crazy?
Jonathan Power
Russia and China are Growing Closer Again
John W. Whitehead
Who Inflicts the Most Gun Violence in America? The U.S. Government and Its Police Forces
Justin Vest
ICE: You’re Not Welcome in the South
Jill Richardson
Race is a Social Construct, But It Still Matters
Dean Baker
The NYT Gets the Story on Automation and Inequality Completely Wrong
Nino Pagliccia
Venezuela Retains Political Control After New US Coercive Measures
Gary Leupp
MSNBC and the Next Election: Racism is the Issue (and Don’t Talk about Socialism)
R. G. Davis
Paul Krassner: Investigative Satirist
Negin Owliaei
Red State Rip Off: Cutting Worker Pay by $1.5 Billion
Christopher Brauchli
The Side of Trump We Rarely See
Curtis Johnson
The Unbroken Line: From Slavery to the El Paso Shooting
Jesse Jackson
End Endless War and Bring Peace to Korea
Adolf Alzuphar
Diary: What About a New City Center?
Tracey L. Rogers
Candidates Need a Moral Vision
Nicky Reid
I Was a Red Flag Kid
John Kendall Hawkins
The Sixties Victory Lap in an Empty Arena
Stephen Cooper
Tony Chin’s Unstoppable, Historic Career in Music
Charles R. Larson
Review: Bruno Latour’s Down to Earth: Politics in the New Climatic Regime
Elizabeth Keyes
Haiku Fighting
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail