We Must Put an End to Rape Culture

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I believe Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.

Like so many survivors, I listened to Dr. Ford's testimony on Thursday and was awed by her courage. I likewise witnessed Judge Kavanaugh demonstrate an abhorrent sense of entitlement reserved for privileged white men—men who've been granted a free pass on sexual assault for centuries.

Then came the Republican reaction.

Senator Ron Johnson suggested Dr. Ford's recollection of the events were false memories. Wisconsin Attorney General, Brad Schimel questioned whether it was fair to hold Judge Kavanaugh accountable for something that happened thirty six years ago. Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee claimed they believed Dr. Ford's memory of that terrifying night, but not her sworn testimony that it was Judge Kavanaugh who perpetrated the assault—statements that are the very definition of disbelief. Meanwhile, they stood in staunch support of Judge Kavanaugh who insisted he had no recollection of the event in question.

Let me tell you why both can be true.

For men who objectify women—men who are capable of disposing of women as easily as cheap pens that have lost their utility—there is no reason to retain those memories. That is the problem with entitlement. In Judge Kavanaugh's 17-year old mind, nothing out of the ordinary happened that day.

For Dr. Ford, however, the trauma etched an indelible memory. Even if it was incomplete, it shaped every interaction, every decision she made from that point forward.

Like countless women in this country, I know from experience that her story rings true. In elementary school, I vividly remember what was on television when I was lured into the garage at a graduation party—but not his name. In college, I distinctly remember what I was wearing as I waited for my late night ride home from the Greyhound station - but not the vehicle the men who propositioned me were driving. A year later, I recall the color of his boxers and the path I ran to safety - but not his face. Later still, I remember where we were and what he said when I told him to stop - but not the time or date. That is the nature of trauma.

So, I watched Senator Amy Klobuchar issue her statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Friday, and I felt the very same sense of overwhelming sadness and deep, bubbling rage. And, I observed without surprise as the ensuing FBI investigation was constrained to such a degree as to render investigators' hands tied, enabling Republicans to claim due diligence while having engaged in nothing of the sort. The same Republicans who will elevate a man credibly accused of multiple sexual assaults to the highest court in the land, where he may cast the deciding vote on issues that make women less safe, and that makes it more difficult for them to seek justice.

For too long, men in power have demonstrated—in both words and action—that the suffering of victims and survivors is secondary to white male privilege. This must change.

It's time we vote each and every politician who continues to perpetuate rape culture out of office.

Sarah O'Neill