Last week, Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, had to defend himself in front of the Judiciary Senate Committee against sexual assault allegations from Christine Blasey Ford. Ford and another woman, Deborah Ramirez, claim that Kavanaugh — both during his teen years and his undergraduate time at Yale University — assaulted them. These allegations come at a time in history where women are more comfortable and confident to come forward about their personal stories of sexual assault — a plague that riddles nearly one-third of the U.S. population.
After Ford’s testimony in front of the court, people from both sides of the political spectrum came forward to talk about the issue. Some, like Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, stands firmly on Kavanaugh’s side, whereas others, including women — like Padma Lakshmi, model, judge on Top Chef and American Civil Liberties Union ambassador of women’s rights and immigration — came forward about their own stories of sexual assault.
In light of the #MeToo movement, more and more women have come out about their stories of sexual assault. And if you really think about it, it’s really heart-wrenching to know that so many women (and some men) have gone through such traumatic experiences in their lives. These stories don’t just extend to celebrities, but to all U.S. citizens, regardless of whether they’ve had the voice to come forward in the past or not.
Women are so often blamed for their decisions not to come forward with their stories, and this takes a deep toll on any woman who goes through this pain — in addition to their trauma. In Padma Lakshmi’s open letter in The New York Times, she talks about her own story. At the age of 7, Lakshmi was inappropriately touched by her stepfather’s relative and was sent to live in India after she told her parents. At the age of 16, she was raped by her boyfriend at the time and decidedly didn’t tell anyone, including her parents. She kept silent because of what had happened earlier in her life, as well as the fact that it was that traumatic — which is completely understandable.
Later on in the letter, Lakshmi points out the way that people say that women are ruining a man’s career and future if we accuse them of sexual assault. But on the other side of the same coin, a woman’s life is destroyed when she is violated and forced to deal with the trauma of sexual assault.
If Brett Kavanaugh is appointed to the Supreme Court, it wouldn’t necessarily be a matter of whether or not he did assault Ford and Ramirez, but it would show that the U.S. government just doesn’t care about women or their rights. If he gets confirmed, Kavanaugh has the power to reverse Roe v. Wade, a law that would seriously screw up women’s rights in this country and would be a huge step backward in the international community.
Padma Lakshmi came out about her assault 32 years after it happened. Ford came out about hers 36 years later. At the time, it was much harder to report because of the general culture of society, but the way we’re going, it’s hard to tell whether the country will be in support of women who go through this trauma or favor the men who have committed or been accused of such heinous crimes.
I’m not saying that Kavanaugh did it. However, I’m not saying that we should believe him either. His career, in my belief, is not as important as the decision to protect all women in this country and their rights. My heart drops knowing that my rights and the rights of other women in this country are at risk because the government is concerned about a man’s career over what could happen to over half the population.