On October 6th, 2018, Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in as a Supreme Court Justice with one of the slimmest margins in American history. Handpicked by President Trump to fill the seat, 48 senators had voted against confirming Kavanaugh while 50 voted yes. Qualified in many ways, Brett Kavanaugh has long been a front-runner for the position; he is a Catholic, he graduated from Yale University, one of the most prestigious universities in the world, he was an aide to George W. Bush during his time in office. He has also been accused of sexual assault.
Christine Ford accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her in high school, saying that he locked her in a room and groped her. “The details about that night that bring me here today are the ones I’ll never forget. They have been seared into my memory and have haunted me…,” Ford told the hearing. Deborah Ramirez recounted a time at a Yale party when Kavanaugh exposed himself to her. Julia Swetnick told of yet another party where Kavanaugh was seen trying to give young girls alcohol in the hopes of having sex with them later on in the night.
Three women, three incredible women were brave enough to speak about their experiences with Kavanaugh, experiences that scarred them and as Ford puts it, “haunted them” for the rest of their lives. Three women were brave enough to come forward and tell their truth in a society where stories of sexual assault are rarely seen as such. Yet Brett Kavanaugh was still appointed to the highest court of the United States of America.
I remember waking up that morning to the news and not being surprised. My friend changed her Facebook picture to have a “Stop Kavanaugh” banner across it, my Instagram feed was filled with endless posts of outrage and astonishment, posts of passion and of people telling their stories of sexual assault and rape, posts by people brave enough to come forward just as Ford and Ramirez and Swetnick did before the Senate. I had already gotten three invites to various protests around my hometown, and events were starting to be planned all around the country.
Here’s the thing. It is always a beautiful, beautiful thing to see people come together. I remember how inspired and moved I was the moment I marched with thousands of other women down the streets during the Women’s March, matching pink hats on our heads, signs in our hands. It is always a beautiful, beautiful thing to see people fight for something that matters to them, to protest on the streets or even just post messages on Facebook or Instagram. But as cynical as this may sound, at this point, how much do those things really matter? At this point, are our voices really, truly being acknowledged by those in power?
Because if I’m being honest, when it comes to the United States government, I don’t believe that they are. Because as much as I would love to truly believe that we as women, as men, as people, can make change if we simply shout loud enough, protest long enough, fight hard enough, I simply don’t know anymore.
It’s a weird feeling, wanting so bad to go out and change something yet feeling so hopeless at the same time. And I promise you, I feel mad. I promise you that I have never felt so extremely, unbelievably mad: mad at the state of my country, mad at the values and priorities being demonstrated by the U.S. government, mad at how little we seem to have progressed. But also mad at me. Because I no longer know if my voice can make a change, because time and time again I have been shown by my country that it doesn’t make a change, because I no longer know how I can fight for my own rights as a woman and as a person even though I so desperately want to, even though I so desperately need to. And that is a very frustrating place to be.
I promise you, I feel mad. But in the wake of Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation into the United States Senate, I have never felt so silenced.