Ford’s grilling

The News-Times (Sunday) - - Opinion -

The Hart­ford Courant Ed­i­to­rial Board

If you watched the tes­ti­mony of Chris­tine Blasey Ford, you prob­a­bly un­der­stand a lit­tle bet­ter why women stay silent about sex­ual as­sault.

Look at what hap­pens when they do speak.

The vic­tim goes on trial — not the per­son she says as­saulted her. The vic­tim is dis­be­lieved. She is dis­re­spected.

We’re not talk­ing about rea­son­able chal­lenges to Ms. Ford’s al­le­ga­tion that Supreme Court nom­i­nee Brett Ka­vanaugh sex­u­ally as­saulted her at a party when they were both teenagers. We’re talk­ing about the sham­ing, blam­ing and threats she’s en­dured.

She’s had to move be­cause she’s afraid for her fam­ily’s safety. “I have been called the most vile and hate­ful names imag­in­able,” she said.

The Repub­li­can sen­a­tors who had her tes­tify be­fore the Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee on Thurs­day may have made a mis­take.

This ap­pears to be back­fir­ing. She looks like a nice woman get­ting in­ter­ro­gated for a crime she didn’t com­mit. What woman watch­ing the ques­tion­ing didn’t cringe with sym­pa­thy for her? Didn’t feel a tinge of re­spect for the strength she had to sum­mon to get on that stand to tell a story that some of the most pow­er­ful peo­ple in the nation are try­ing to dis­credit?

Watch­ing her un­dergo that trial, it be­comes clear why a 15-year-old might be afraid to tell any­one about an as­sault — be­cause of what she, not her as­sailant, would face.

She would be quite aware of the ques­tions she’d be asked: Did she do any­thing to pro­voke the at­tack?

What was she wear­ing? Did she lead him on? Was she in the wrong place? Was she alone? — and the im­plicit fin­ger­point­ing in those ques­tions. This moment is a painful re­minder of how back­ward our so­ci­ety is when it comes to rape.

So that the all-male ros­ter of Repub­li­cans on the Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee wouldn’t look like bul­lies them­selves, they took the un­prece­dented step of hir­ing a fe­male pros­e­cu­tor to ques­tion Ms. Ford. They’ve re­fused to re­open Mr. Ka­vanaugh’s FBI back­ground in­ves­ti­ga­tion to look into her al­le­ga­tions and oth­ers that have sur­faced since. They pre­fer the pub­lic grilling method.

Thank you, Sen. Richard Blu­men­thal, for sup­port­ing Ms. Ford dur­ing the or­deal with words that brought tears to her eyes and many oth­ers’. The sen­a­tor quoted from Repub­li­can Sen. Lind­sey Gra­ham’s book, “My Story,” that it takes “courage from a deep and hid­den place for a rape vic­tim or sex­u­ally abused child to tes­tify against their as­sailant.”

On Thurs­day, the nation could see why.

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