Opinion: Women should complain more, Kavanaugh case shows
PUBLISHED: 20:36 01 October 2018 | UPDATED: 20:36 01 October 2018
Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved
Kavanaugh case and Jeff Flake’s intervention shows women need to speak out more than ever, says Liz Nice
I am regularly told to “stop going on about being a woman”. Sometimes, I feel a little stung. What am I supposed to go on about – not being a man? Frankly, I’m reasonably happy about THAT state of affairs.
Lately though, I’ve come to feel that women don’t complain about their lot enough. And here’s why.
I’ve watched, with interest, the Brett Kavanaugh case in the US (their goings on are always such a good distraction from Brexit), in which an often inarticulate and angry man endeavoured to convince the Senate judiciary committee that he had not sexually assaulted a young woman in 1982 and therefore should be elected, after all, to sit on the Supreme Court.
The extremely articulate woman in question, Christine Blasey Ford, made a strong and calmly argued case against this, albeit a little hard to follow for those uninitiated in the world of hippocampuses and various other highbrow scientific phrases the clinical psychology professor used as she endeavoured to convince the committee that this could not be, as suggested, a case of mistaken identity.
And while I hold the principle of innocent until proven guilty as sacred as principles can be, I do find two things troubling here.
First, the view, of several men I have discussed this with that “women make this stuff up which is really unfair on men”.
When one considers the three-hour testimony and constant media attention Blasey Ford had to go through over this, indeed what any woman has to go through when she makes such an accusation, it does beggar belief that so many people seem to believe that false accusations are the rule, as opposed to the rare exception.
In fact, such figures that are available suggest that false allegations of rape, for example, make up between 2-10% of cases, while the number of rape allegations that actually result in conviction is far more troubling – less than 6%.
In other words, most women don’t make this stuff up – but when they tell the truth, they are usually not believed.
We are not talking about rape here, although Blasey Ford says she thought she was going to be – she alleges that Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed, tried to remove her clothes and clapped a hand over her mouth when she tried to call for help.
But what we are talking about is behaviour that suggests a deep disrespect for women, hardly ideal, if true, in a Supreme Court judge.
And so we come to the second thing that troubles me here – that despite the moving and raw testimony of a highly intelligent woman who clearly still feels violated 36 years after this incident allegedly took place, that the overriding view of most Republican Senate voters was that actually what was more important was not what she said, but that another Republican bottom should get to sit on the Supreme Court.
Politics Trumps humanity. Again.
But there is hope because whether the bumbling Brett will actually get his place in perpetuity (Supreme Court judges, once elected, are there for life) now depends on an FBI investigation this week, which was helped into action by a rebel Republican, Jeff Flake (who turned out not to be) when he changed his mind about following the party line and voting for Kavanaugh after being accosted in an elevator by an angry woman.
Her words resonated most here.
She told Flake that if Kavanaugh did get elected, it would mean that every other woman with an abuse story to tell would hear, once again, that she would not be believed and that her pain “didn’t matter”.
And that is why more women, not fewer, need to speak up.
Because even though we are so rarely believed, even though there will always be a hundred men lining up to call us sluts who were asking for it, even though there will always be a hundred more men to testify that they know for certain that this man isn’t like that – something they cannot possibly know since they don’t have the equipment their “friend” is after.
Despite all of that, we have to keep speaking up about men violating women. Because Jeff Flake actually did listen.
And eventually, they all will.
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