Maggie Connolly ’21
Over the past year or so, it feels like every time the news is turned on, there is a new piece on a sexual assault allegation. Recently, the newspapers have been putting out stories by the hour with updates about the allegations that Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, sexually assaulted two women in his younger years. The two women have both since come forward, but have both faced incredible amounts of backlash regarding their allegations. Many accuse them of using these allegations as political smear campaigns and are delegitimizing their stories in doing so.
Donald Trump also decided to take to Twitter on the issue, fully backing Kavanaugh after the allegations from Christine Blasey Ford and claiming that he has “No doubt that, if the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local Law Enforcement Authorities by either her or her loving parents.” It is comments like these and people like Kavanaugh and Trump that are continuously barring sexual assault victims from coming forward in their adult lives.
The efforts of these men, as well as other individuals both in the political world and everyday lives, are attempts to paint these claims as fraudulent, and occasionally even as cries for attention. Coming to terms with something as grave and as life changing as what Ford and Ramirez, Kavanaugh’s second victim, as well as many others have experienced is no simple feat. For some, it takes a lifetime to understand and come to terms with what has happened.
This is why we as a society have to keep talking about sexual assault. The topic can be uncomfortable and scary, and a lot of times, people would rather shy away from issues like these as opposed to trying to understand and learn about them. Learning about sexual assault and hearing stories from survivors is more than tweeting a supportive hashtag or retweeting a post from a politician in support of an anti-Kavanaugh campaign. Supporting survivors of sexual assault is about action, and giving them a platform to share their stories. Showing support is different than simply giving support on social media.
Showing support will allow men and women alike to step forward and use their voices for those who cannot. Women like Ford and Ramirez are creating a platform for people everywhere to step up and show their support through action, campaigns, marches, and most importantly, voting. Vote for senators, governors, even school board members that are standing up and talking about issues like sexual assault. Show support by encouraging those who are starting a conversation for those who are not able to.
As a country, we cannot let the rhetoric of men like Trump, Kavanaugh, Harvey Weinstein, Larry Nassar, and many others make their victims feel as though they should not be speaking out. The stories of the women these men, as well as others, have sexually harassed have changed the lives of many victims forever and inspired others to come forward with full force.
So, encourage, support, and be strong in opposition to people in positions of power who feel as though their position is more powerful than what they have done to others. At a time like this, we cannot hold back from opening up the discussion. Sharing a story could be the start of the next big revolution; it just takes someone to start the conversation.
Photo Courtesy of ABC News