By JOSHUA STALEY
Donald Trump and his GOP followers are notorious for harmful rhetoric against all that oppose them. The Senate is giving privileged white men the right to rape, and congresspeople continue to preach their misogynistic views. Their abusive talk, bold-faced lies and fits of rage are prime examples of their true feelings toward women. In today’s socio-political climate, the #MeToo Movement is as important as ever to bring these predators to justice and defend women’s rights to claim their own bodies.
With this week’s confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, Trump’s administration is sending the message to young boys that it is okay to behave in a way that threatens women, and that their actions will not be held accountable. According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, the rational part of a teenager’s brain is not fully developed until approximately the age of 25, meaning a person is considerably more impressionable at a young age.
As President of the United States, Donald Trump is supposed to act as a role model for the youth of the country. Allowing someone with these sorts of allegations against them to take a seat on the high court shows that he is willing to overlook something that is life-changing to a survivor.
“Brock Turners evolve into Brett Kavanaughs who then make rules for Brock Turners,” said freshman Alexandra Polymeropoulos, referencing a former Stanford University student who was convicted of three counts of rape in 2015, only to be given a light sentence of six months in confinement and three years of probation when he could have been sentenced to up to fourteen years in prison. He ended up only serving three months in confinement.
Growing up in today’s socio-political climate is toxic to young people’s minds. Women grow up feeling as though their bodies do not matter and are open to men at any given moment. Men grow up thinking this behavior will not affect them in any way, as people with these allegations trailing them are sitting proudly in positions of power.
“I think that when you have the President of the United States view allegations of sexual assault as joke-worthy, that it does tremendous damage to individuals who have had these experiences, families who have dealt with these issues in a very personal way, and how the parties are viewed as being either accepting or not interested in talking respectfully, thoughtfully, and openly about issues that a lot of people have experience with” says Dr. Rosalyn Cooperman, associate professor in the UMW Department of Political Science and International Affairs.
Just last week, Trump stood on stage and openly mocked Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, the brave sexual assault survivor that came forward against Kavanaugh.
“And a man’s life is in tatters,” Trump said. “A man’s life is shattered.” Trump then called Democrats against Kavanaugh “evil people” who are out to “destroy people.” He also reiterated his claims that you are now “guilty until proven innocent.”
He defended Kavanaugh saying his Supreme Court nominee is a “good man, a great student, great intellect.” Many men accused of sexual assault have been defended in a similar manner, as if being a “good man” is now a defense for sexual assault. “He was just a child,” is an excuse that does not justify sexual assault. Age, education, status and having a family are by no means characteristics that can viably disregard sexual assault accusers from trial or public scrutiny. Once someone steps forward, the accusation is negated only by evidence, not character references.
Kavanaugh does not deserve to be advocated for because of his prior success or platform. Dr. Blasey Ford’s allegations, like all victims, deserve to be taken seriously. We cannot stand around and let these people have a free pass. If Bill Cosby, once thought to be a “good, family man” can be accused and tried for his sexual assault allegations, then so can any privileged white man.
It’s ridiculous that these situations even have to be up for discussion. Why are men so afraid of being accused of sexual assault? If they keep their hands to themselves and respect women’s bodies and sense of personal space, then you have nothing to be worried about. Women do not come forward with these allegations with intent to ruin a man’s life, especially since doing so might actually ruin their own.
After stepping forward, Ford’s entire life has been turned upside to the point that the President of the United States feels the need to publicly humiliate her on national television.
“I am here today not because I want to be,” she said, when testifying against Kavanaugh. “I am terrified. I am here because I believe it is my civic duty to tell you what happened to me while Brett Kavanaugh and I were in high school.”
After going public, Dr. Ford received support from her community and fellow survivors across the country. However, at the same time, her and her family were forced to relocate after being the target of harassment and death threats from Trump and Kavanagh supporters.
It will take a miracle to get this country back on track to having healthy discussions about sexual violence. With people like Donald Trump and Brett Kavanagh in power, nothing will get better. Until then, we must stand our ground and fight. We must vote these predators out of office and hope that one day, America can be as great at Donald Trump claims it once was.