Last week’s Kavanaugh hearings ripped the band-aid off the sores of senatorial civility. Writers for the cold open for Saturday Night Live didn’t have to modify transcripts of the hearings much to get thirteen minutes of material. It was hard to know whether we should laugh or cry.
The most heated part of the week, of course, came when Dr. Christine Blassey Ford testified that Mr. Kavanaugh had assaulted her while the two were in high school. One Mississippi state representative, Greg Snowden (R-Meridian), was so captivated by it that he wrecked his car because he tried to drive and keep track of his news feed at the same time.
Unless this week’s FBI investigation produces a revelation that at least one Senator to change from a “yes” to a “no” vote, Mr. Kavanaugh will be confirmed to the highest court in the land. As such, the confirmation hearings may ultimately be remembered as a crystallization of the #meetoo movement in American politics.
That movement has been viewed with great suspicion and great admiration. The founders of the movement describe it this way:
The me too movement has built a community of survivors from all walks of life. By bringing vital conversations about sexual violence into the mainstream, we’re helping to de-stigmatize survivors by highlighting the breadth and impact sexual violence has on thousands of women, and we’re helping those who need it to find entry points to healing. Ultimately, with survivors at the forefront of this movement, we’re aiding the fight to end sexual violence. We want to uplift radical community healing as a social justice issue and are committed to disrupting all systems that allow sexual violence to flourish.
One critic, Camille Paglia, has a different point of view:
The big question is whether the present wave of revelations, often consisting of unsubstantiated allegations from decades ago, will aid women’s ambitions in the long run or whether it is already creating further problems by reviving ancient stereotypes of women as hysterical, volatile and vindictive.
My philosophy of equity feminism demands removal of all barriers to women’s advancement in the political and professional realms. However, I oppose special protections for women in the workplace. Treating women as more vulnerable, virtuous or credible than men is reactionary, regressive and ultimately counterproductive.
Complaints to the Human Resources department after the fact are no substitute for women themselves drawing the line against offensive behavior — on the spot and in the moment. Working-class women are often so dependent on their jobs that they cannot fight back, but there is no excuse for well-educated, middle-class women to elevate career advantage or fear of social embarrassment over their own dignity and self-respect as human beings. Speak up now, or shut up later! Modern democracy is predicated on principles of due process and the presumption of innocence.
Does either perspective appeal to students more? Is there a better way to articulate what the #meetoo movement will mean in their everyday lives?