sunny.png
Thursday February 27th, 2020 9:46AM

Hearing on Kavanaugh allegations puts #MeToo to the test

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

WASHINGTON, D.C. (AP) — No matter what ultimately happens to Brett Kavanaugh and the women who accuse the Supreme Court nominee of sexual misconduct, the Senate hearing on the allegations will offer a historic test of the #MeToo movement, which began only a year ago.

Since it coalesced around accusations against Harvey Weinstein, the movement has toppled many prominent abusers in Hollywood, journalism and politics. But #MeToo has also been about believing survivors, and the treatment of Kavanaugh's accusers raises questions about whether that part of the mission remains largely unfulfilled.

The young movement is "fighting an uphill path, going against centuries of accepted, ingrained bad behavior," said Kristen Houser of the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. "I think people say we're at a tipping point. I don't believe that. I don't think anything's tipped."

Some advocates say the handling of the complaints — especially lawmakers' unwillingness to authorize a deeper investigation into Kavanaugh's conduct — shows how far the movement still has to go in changing the way women are treated by powerful men. Others insist that the GOP dismissal of the accusers doesn't reflect a breakdown of the movement, but the failure of a largely white, male Congress to adapt to changing times.

The tension began as soon as the allegations emerged. Republican lawmakers were initially united in their refrain: The first accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, deserved to be heard.

When a second woman came forward, instead of repeating that idea, lawmakers doubled down on their support for the judge. They hurled insults at Democrats and implied that opponents had crafted a grand scheme to torpedo the nominee.

Jess Davidson, executive director of End Rape on Campus, said the Senate Judiciary Committee's conduct has been "the most disappointing experience of my survivor advocacy so far."

Ford, a California psychologist, alleged that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a party in the early 1980s, when the two were teenagers in suburban Maryland. A second woman accused Kavanaugh of another assault dating to his first year at Yale University.

Ford is scheduled to testify Thursday before the committee, which is composed mostly of men. The committee must endorse Kavanaugh's nomination before he can receive a vote by the full Senate that could confirm him to a lifetime appointment on the nation's highest court. The second accuser, Deborah Ramirez, has not been scheduled to testify.

Kavanaugh is supposed to testify after Ford. He has denied all allegations.

"I had never sexually assaulted anyone, not in high school, not ever," Kavanaugh said Monday during a televised Fox News interview.

Since coming forward, Ford has received death threats. GOP lawmakers have not accused her of lying or questioned her motives. Instead, they've suggested Ford is confused, merely misremembering the episode.

Even if Ford's account is true, others have said, Kavanaugh's nomination shouldn't be upended by what they characterize as drunken adolescent behavior.

"It was drunk teenagers playing seven minutes of heaven," tweeted Fox News columnist Stephen Miller.

Since Ramirez's account became public, GOP lawmakers and Kavanaugh supporters, including President Donald Trump, have dug in.

"The Democrats are working hard to destroy a wonderful man, and a man who has the potential to be one of our greatest Supreme Court Justices ever, with an array of False Accusations the likes of which have never been seen before!" Trump tweeted Monday.

On the Senate floor, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called the allegations "a despicable smear" and "a new low."

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, said Ford should have her say, but that his mind is already made up.

"What am I supposed to do, go ahead and ruin this guy's life based on an accusation?" he said Sunday in a Fox News interview. "Unless there's something more, no, I'm not going to ruin Judge Kavanaugh's life over this."

Davidson said she's deeply disappointed by the similarities she sees between Kavanaugh's accusers and Anita Hill, who famously testified that she was sexually harassed by then-nominee Clarence Thomas in 1991.

Those hearings are now widely considered a case study in how not to treat a victim. One senator asked if Hill was a "scorned woman." Another asked, "How could you allow this kind of reprehensible conduct to go on ... without doing something about it."

Less than a year after the first story about Weinstein, "to watch lawmakers fail to do this in a different way, and to watch the public fail to hold them accountable, really makes me question how much (the #MeToo movement) has really changed hearts and minds," Davidson said.

But some advocates say GOP attitudes toward survivors don't accurately reflect the movement's gains. On the contrary: They simply make the Senate seem woefully out of touch.

GOP lawmakers are "missing the power of the last year, where people have so powerfully and importantly named their experiences," said Fatima Goss Graves, president and CEO of the National Women's Law Center.

She said Republican senators' response to the allegations — at first saying that Ford is confused or misremembering, then alleging an orchestrated smear — "dives deep into the tropes surrounding sexual violence that this whole year has been spent disrupting."

Other institutions take serious action when confronted with sexual violence, but the Senate seems to engage in "an effort to lean in to bias," she said. "This will not be a proud moment in history when people look back on 2018 and wonder how is it that the Senate was so out of touch."

Shaunna Thomas, co-founder and executive director of women's advocacy group UltraViolet, said the fact that not one but two women stepped forward is a clear indication that survivors are becoming more empowered to come out of the shadows. What's happening on Capitol Hill, she said, doesn't show the true power or impact of the movement.

"Politics always follows culture," Thomas said. Americans "shouldn't be surprised that Republican senators are not reflecting that culture change. Until they're replaced, we won't see the power of the #MeToo movement, or survivors or women in the Senate."

Complicating matters is that this discussion is taking place in a highly partisan bubble, magnified by the nation's political divide.

Sarah Beaulieu, founder of The Uncomfortable Conversation, an organization dedicated to normalizing conversations about sexual violence, said she worries about stories of sexual abuse and assault becoming "weaponized in a way that hurts both survivors and efforts around prevention, education and cultural change."

Still, she said, her conversations with people and organizations "reflect a world ready for change."

___

Lush reported from St. Petersburg, Florida.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Online Supreme Court News
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Priest accused of child sex abuse behind bars pending trial
A former New Mexico priest who fled the U.S. decades ago amid allegations of child sex abuse appeared in U.S. District Court on Tuesday
4:30PM ( 6 minutes ago )
Hearing on Kavanaugh allegations puts #MeToo to the test
Hearing on Kavanaugh allegations offers test for #MeToo movement, no matter what happens
4:27PM ( 9 minutes ago )
US lashes out at Iran as world leaders gather at UN
President Donald Trump and his top national security aides have lashed out at Iran with unusual venom, warning Tehran that it faced severe consequences if it defied the United States
4:26PM ( 9 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
The Latest: Cosby being taken to suburban Philadelphia jail
Bill Cosby will spend the first few days of his prison sentence at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility outside Philadelphia
3:55PM ( 40 minutes ago )
Lawyer: Firing of officer who killed neighbor is premature
The attorney for a white Dallas police officer who fatally shot her black neighbor inside his own apartment says the officer's firing was premature and unfair
3:47PM ( 48 minutes ago )
Texas investigates suspect in California homeless beatings
A man arrested on suspicion of beating a Southern California homeless man into unconsciousness and suspected in three fatal attacks also is being investigated in the disappearance of two Texas relatives
3:40PM ( 55 minutes ago )
AP National News
The Latest: Iran: US sanctions are 'economic terrorism'
Iran's president says U.S. sanctions against his country amount to "economic terrorism" that won't sway Iran
2:45PM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: US to warn Iran of 'hell to pay' for defiance
U.S. national security adviser John Bolton will warn Iran of "hell to pay" and "serious consequences" if it defies the U.S.
2:38PM ( 1 hour ago )
Russian Pussy Riot activist conscious after poisoning
A member of Russian protest group Pussy Riot says he's recovering after two weeks in intensive care for a suspected poisoning
2:34PM ( 2 hours ago )
Top General short headlines
The Latest: Dem: Trump sending wrong message on Kavanaugh
Democratic Sen. Patty Murray says President Donald Trump is sending the wrong message by diminishing the account of a woman who's accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct while both were students at Yale.
3:57PM ( 40 minutes ago )
The Latest: McConnell confident on Kavanaugh confirmation
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he's confident Brett Kavanaugh will be confirmed to the Supreme Court
3:34PM ( 1 hour ago )
Trump riding in sleeker version of 'Beast' presidential limo
President Donald Trump is riding around in a new set of wheels
2:57PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
EU lawmakers cancel Turkey funds over democracy shortfalls
EU lawmakers say they are canceling 70 million euros ($82.4 million) in funding meant to help Turkey join the EU due to what they see as Ankara's failure to improve rule of law and human rights
12:46PM ( 3 hours ago )
The Latest: GOP hires female attorney for Kavanaugh hearing
Republicans have hired a female attorney to handle questioning during this week's hearing with Christine Blasey Ford and Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh
12:29PM ( 4 hours ago )
GOP leader: Dems using 'vague' claims to derail Kavanaugh
The Senate's top Republican is accusing Democrats of railroading Brett Kavanaugh
12:01PM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
The Latest: Trump says Democrats trying to destroy Kavanaugh
Trump says Democrats are "working hard to destroy" Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh
10:58PM ( 17 hours ago )
Trump leads aggressive, all-out GOP drive to save Kavanaugh
Republicans are mounting a combative, coordinated drive to salvage Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination
10:57PM ( 17 hours ago )
Republicans are digging in on Kavanaugh. Here's why.
Republicans lean into Kavanaugh fight despite new accusations and political risks
9:28PM ( 19 hours ago )
AP Online Supreme Court News
Nike's marketing strikes a chord without hurting business
Nike caused an uproar earlier this month with its ad featuring former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick but business has not been hurt as the furor dies down
4:33PM ( 4 minutes ago )
Priest accused of child sex abuse behind bars pending trial
A former New Mexico priest who fled the U.S. decades ago amid allegations of child sex abuse appeared in U.S. District Court on Tuesday
4:30PM ( 7 minutes ago )
US lashes out at Iran as world leaders gather at UN
President Donald Trump and his top national security aides have lashed out at Iran with unusual venom, warning Tehran that it faced severe consequences if it defied the United States
4:26PM ( 11 minutes ago )
Cosby 'unmasked': TV star gets 3 to 10 years for sex assault
An 81-year-old Bill Cosby has been led off to prison in handcuffs after being sentenced to three to 10 years behind bars for drugging and sexually assaulting a woman
4:25PM ( 12 minutes ago )
UN cautions against populism in high-level week
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres paints a grim picture of the state of the world as leaders open their annual meeting.
4:23PM ( 14 minutes ago )