Brett Kavanaugh’s access to the Supreme Court has sent shockwaves to those who have been following the case. Nominated by Donald Trump, the previously Circuit Judge was going through Senate Judiciary Committee hearings, when he was accused of sexual assault by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. Despite a powerful testimony by the latter and questioning in front of the Committee and despite a letter signed by more than 2400 law professors, which questioned his “impartiality and judicial temperament requisite to sit on the highest court”, his nomination was approved by the Senate, he was voted in as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of America.
Over and above the questionable actions and alleged accusation of sexual assault on the Judge, the question of reporting of sexual assault has come back in raging force. The timing of Dr. Ford’s accusation has been widely criticised and commented, but as she says in her statement: “My motivation in coming forward was to provide the facts about how Mr. Kavanaugh’s actions have damaged my life, so that you can take that into serious consideration as you make your decision about how to proceed. It is not my responsibility to determine whether Mr. Kavanaugh deserves to sit on the Supreme Court. My responsibility is to tell the truth.”
And yet…despite the MeToo movement, which unleashed a worldwide storm where women came forward, hesitatingly, falteringly, painfully to share their stories of sexual assaults, to varying degrees of horrible, …some find cynicism in women denouncing, questioning women’s motivations, amalgamating all sorts of sexual assault cases. Ignoring the fact that women who take the painstaking and humiliating step of coming forward as sexual violence victims are in fact making way for other women to come out of the woodwork, to denounce events that have taken place decades ago, like the alleged accusations against Bollywood actor Nana Patekar and more recently the rape accusation against one of most loved Hindi serials actor, Alok Nath. What cynics will see as an avalanche of accusations on one man, women will see as the opening up of shackles of shame and fear or social retribution that have bound them so far. The cathartic feeling that these denunciations have given to victims is unprecedented.
For long, the woman’s image has been constructed as one who needs to cover up, to be careful when she goes out, who needs to laugh discreetly, who must take utmost care so as not to look too forward. For long, the list of don’ts has been handed out to women only, so much so that men have taken any women who do not follow the list to be their rightful piece of meat. For too long, women have been told to behave in relation to men, that a large number of men have forgotten that women are fully fledged human beings, with rights and wants of their own. And ironically, the higher placed the man is, the more harm he can cause for a woman, in acting in a depraved way towards her. Education, prestige and position are no disclaimers for sexual violence. Men have been privileged for so long, that the shaking up of their comfort zone is bound to garner defensive reactions from a number of them such as discrediting women who come forth, trying to impute motives to them, or have recourse to the age-old tactic of blaming the woman for the assault.
The woman, today, will no longer be silenced. At the cost of sanity, deeply personal attacks, she will not lose out the voice that she has acquired over the long battle that many before her have started and carried forward until this point. She will take it even further, at personal costs to make sure that women after her will draw the strength in shattering that glass ceilinged cage that has begun to be shaken free of a number of its bars.