The problem is that demanding that any one woman bear the full professional and social and emotional cost of dismantling the machinery of men in power propping up other men in power is expecting entirely too much. We already know that one victim speaking up isn’t enough. The entire vast apparatus of the institution will be brought to bear against her, and that is the same apparatus that she must report to and hope to be believed by, all while knowing she must continue to work within it. Asking that any one woman do such a thing isn’t just a call for moral heroism. It’s also irrational.
Jamelle Bouie, “Brett Kavanaugh and Our Accountability Crisis”
Watching the machinery of elite power operate on behalf of Kavanaugh is both a lesson in whois entitled to second chances and absolution as well as an illustration of larger conflicts over the limits and boundaries of accountability. And read in that light, Kavanaugh is the perfect vessel for a view that puts the most privileged and powerful beyond the reach of public account.
… To look beyond individual pundits and politicians is to see a world where responsibility and culpability is structured by race, class, gender, and your overall proximity to disadvantage. …
Most of this was apparent at the time of his nomination. But Christine Blasey Ford’s allegation — and the conservative response — makes it blindingly clear. The question of this age, the fight of this age, is whether people like Kavanaugh — people with wealth and authority, shielded by advantages of race and gender — are citizens to be held accountable, or members of a special caste unbound by rule of law.
It’s the same reason I never came forward when, in 1979, I was raped in my dorm room by an acquaintance. And you know what? I likely never will name my attacker, unless in the unlikely event that he ever comes up for a lifetime appointment on the federal judiciary. And even in that circumstance, I’d have to give it a good long think before I did.
My reasons for not doing so are likely similar to those for which Ford was reluctant to make public her claim against Kavanaugh. I wouldn’t have expected the men who still hold power over prosecutions and the institutions of society to have advocated for me. I believe I would have been painted as a liar and loose girl of low morals. After all, I had been drinking. I had been part of the party before I went to bed. (And, unlike Ford, I had a “reputation.”) I would have been accused of trying to ruin the virtuous life of the attacker, who had a fiancée he planned to marry in the Catholic Church.
Many of us have learned that if you do come forward, you’re going to be blamed or asked these shaming questions like “What were you wearing?” or “What were you doing there so late?” Some people have actually told me they find those conversations to be more traumatizing than the violence itself, because they could point to the violence as something that happened, whereas a larger shaming from the community they were taught was there to protect them is harder to contend with.
Consensual sex in the evangelical community is shamed and nonconsensual sex is silenced. So the last thing is that many people feel if they do come forward, nothing will happen to protect them or others, and they will have gone through the re-traumatization for nothing.
By the time I finally reach the gift shop, the indignation I’ve been counting on just isn’t there. I stare at the $39 hoodies and the rescue vests for dogs and the earrings and the scarves and the United We Stand wool blankets waiting for that rush and can’t muster so much as a sigh. The events of the day have already been exploited and sold in ways previously incomprehensible, why get mad at a commemorative T-shirt now? This tchotchke store — this building, this experience — is nothing more than the logical endpoint for our most reliably commodifiable national tragedy. If you want to bring a coffee table book full of photos of cadaver dogs sniffing through smoking rubble back home to wherever you’re from, hey, that’s great. This is America, you can buy what you want; they hate our freedom to buy what we want. People will find moments of grace or enlightenment or even peace from coming here, I don’t need to be one of them. I’ll probably bring my son one day once I realize I won’t have the words to explain. It can be of use. It’s fine. I don’t know.