Article by: Vivienne P.
Visual by: Rafatul I.
Edited by: Kody T.
When scrolling through social media two weekends ago, I was shocked to find that every other post featured the face of Brett Kavanaugh looking back at me. Although previous controversies with his name had been centered around his nomination by United States President Donald Trump for the Supreme Court, Kavanaugh has recently been accused of sexual assault by three women during high school and college. All women, who have credible reputations, have helped changed the way that many men and women view sexual assault, especially by men in powerful positions. The most jarring aspect of the case for me, however, was the backlash received from each of the two testimonies. But is it really that surprising?
When reading more about the Kavanaugh case and the differences between the two testimonies given by Mr. Kavanaugh and Dr. Ford, I realized that women are often criticised for their body language, tone of voice, and word choice to a much larger extent than men are.
After watching Kavanaugh’s testimony and reading articles published regarding it, I found that his unprofessional expression of his emotions of anger and frustration seemed to fly under the news radar. What was in the spotlight, however, was Dr. Ford’s specific, concise, and well-thought out responses, which provided a sharp contrast to the comments made by Kavanaugh.
Numerous stories discuss the double-edged sword surrounding women speaking out about sexual assault cases; too much emotion and one is considered unreliable or hysterical, but with too little one is seen as unaffected or impassive. With Dr. Ford, she provided a composed, direct, and extremely polite testimony that both demonstrated the importance of language on how one is perceived, but also the reality in how women must behave when speaking to powerful men. Kavanaugh, on the other hand, provided a testimony strung with hot headed emotion, and was faced with little to no criticism regarding it. The most chilling aspect of it, however, is the faint idea that if the testimonies had been reversed and Dr. Ford had spoken the same way Judge Kavanaugh did, that the relevance and importance of speaking about sexual assault would have taken one step forward and two steps back.
I was amazed by the international interest in this case of sexual assault, and the amount of media attention that it has gathered. I believe that now is the time to speak about sexual assault that occurs in all aspects in society, and to speak with a voice that is listened to without bias based on gender or power imbalances between the accuser and the accused.