On Women’s Trauma & Saving Democracy
Since Kennedy announced his retirement the left has been mobilizing to try and protect the Supreme Court from becoming ultra conservative - overturning abortion rights, voting rights, LGBTQ rights, disability rights, and more. Kavanaugh was announced, and this mobilization went into overdrive because his history left no questions on how he would rule concerning women’s bodily autonomy. He tried to force an undocumented minor to carry a pregnancy to term earlier this year.
Like with the rest of the Trump resistance, much of the work to stop Kavanaugh was done by women. The most high profile attempt was the Rise Up For Roe tour, a project by Demand Justice Initiative, Naral Pro-Choice America, and Planned Parenthood Action Fund. We rallied, tweeted, called our senators, wrote articles, and screamed until our throats were sore. This week women might have a chance to stop Kavanaugh but it’s not through our hard work or logical policy arguments, it’s through our trauma.
Despite the fact that Kavanaugh lied under oath during his hearings and refused to produce relevant documents from his career, Republicans were rushing through his confirmation and had already scheduled a vote. It seemed unlikely that Murkowski or Collins would hold to their standing of protecting Roe (they never do) and Kavanaugh’s appointment seemed inevitable.
That is until Dr. Christine Blasey Ford came forward with a story of sexual assault from high school. Then Deborah Ramirez told a story from college. Last we have heard from Julie Swetnick who has been forced to detail her gang rape story from college (she can’t say if Kavanaugh raped her but she knows he was present). Not only do these women need to relive their stories in their statements, but they must also defend themselves from media attacks and death threats. Dr. Ford has agreed to testify at a hearing where she will be questioned as if she is on trial. They all are forced to produce character witnesses and evidence to prove their stories are true. And women sitting at home must live through their own past trauma again to support these stories.
Most women I know have no trouble believing these stories because we all have a similar one. Most women have lived through a sexual assault, a drunk guy at a frat exposing himself, or even a rape. In our fight to stop Kavanaugh, we tell our stories as well so people will believe the three brave women mentioned above. Men like Avenatti and political pundits use these stories of sexual assault to boost their careers and stop a political rival. And we as women fight through our trauma and triggers out of patriotism and solidarity.
I am grateful for anything that keeps Kavanaugh off the bench, but just once, I would like the brilliant questioning of Senator Kamala Harris or the suits brought by Senator Feinstein or the mobilizing done by activists to be the women’s work that is appreciated. Instead, we are forced to weaponize our trauma to keep a powerful dangerous man off the Supreme Court. I believe Anita Hill, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, Deborah Ramirez, and Julie Swetnick and I thank them for their bravery and sacrifice to save the rest of us.
Photo by Luis Galvez