“I believed he was going to rape me.” are the stand out words in Christine Ford’s final testimony at the confirmation hearing of Brett Kavanaugh as an associate judge to the Supreme Court on the 27th of September. Her compelling testimony shocked the world and prompted a huge feminist backlash over the past week. Ford’s struggle, and the struggle of many other women who have become victims of elected members in the US government is not something new. The actions of a variety of powerful, mainly white, men have never restricted any of their power – will Ford’s testimony prompt a change for Brett Kavanaugh?
The most famous example of an elected American condoning the accused actions of someone like Kavanaugh is unshockingly very obvious. President Trump has, and probably will continue to be, mixed up in a variety of ways concerning his thoughts and actions regarding women. His ‘locker room’ boast about grabbing women by the p*ssy became a standout talking point from his election campaign in 2016. Although it appalled millions across the world, it also received a lot of support from others. In what way did his disgusting bravado limit his power? Well it didn’t…with him being elected as the 45th president of the US a few months later.
The history of powerful men abusing their elected positions goes back even further than ‘Agent Orange’. It is also important to look at President Bill Clinton’s relationship with Monica Lewinsky between 1995-1997. Although his adultery was consensual it did involve the most powerful man in the world, aged 49 at the time, being sexually involved with a 22 year old intern. Even if not intentional, he should have realised that his position of power had a big influence on their relationship. This scandal never had any drastic effect on his power to run the country, it actually improved his ratings as they rose to 65%. In the 1998 midterms the Democrats picked up 5 seats in the House of Representatives due to the public not necessarily caring about his affair. After defeating his opponents attempt to impeach him, Clinton remained to serve out his second term as president thus demonstrating how his actions had no negative effects on his position of power.
The repetition of sexual assault allegations from elected US officials seems practically institutional when observing the numbers. Ballotpedia.com has catalogued these between 2017 and 2018. In the Federal government alone, 12 officials (11 men), including Trump, have had allegations of sexual assault raised against them; mainly due to the #MeToo movement in which women share their experiences of sexual abuse. Of these 12, 9 have either resigned, been suspended, or did not seek re-election. Although this demonstrates a small degree of progress in the limitation of power, these representatives of the Federal government have not seen any prison time.
With Kavanaugh being accepted to the Supreme court on Sunday the 7th of October, the long line of women being used and abused by elected men of the US government looks to continue into the future.
Image: Charles Edward Miller, flicker