Kavanaugh and the Hearing

I cannot begin to tell you how much it enrages me that this man is still under consideration for the supreme court. I believe Blasey Ford and I believe the other accusers. He is at best an attempted rapist. I despise Grassley and the other GOP senators for trying to hide so much—no FBI investigation, no testimony from other witnesses or other accusers, no release of many of his records, and no interest in digging into this. These people–mostly men–are hypocrites, amoral, and frankly, a threat to all women everywhere. Their unwillingness to condemn this behavior, to take it seriously enough to investigate, tells every woman and every girl that they don’t matter. That men and their power matter more and always will. They are despicable.

Kavanaugh clearly has no interest in actually getting to truth.  If he were as innocent as he says, if he were as good a legal mind as he claims, then he would want the investigation to clear his name. But he doesn’t. He wants to use rhetoric and bullying tactics to win the day.

I can only hope that rage from women everywhere will rise up in a hurricane of righteousness and kick these men into oblivion. I hope women take office. I hope women show our power. I hope we unite for the betterment of America, of equal rights for all people, of justice and fairness.

Women don’t have any hope for rights to their bodies, to equal pay, to general equality, while the GOP remains in power. Until WE take over the reins of government. These GOP men must be quashed. This November, we must vote them out, and repeat that voting out every November until they are no longer able to oppress women.

Tonight I am disgusted and furious and I know that we have to act. We have to rise up. We have to defy these bastards and take back our country. They don’t own us. But we can own their asses if we get out in November.

As for Lindsay Graham—the man is a coward, a bully, and a sycophant. Any respect I might have had for him in the past is gone. He ranks right up there with Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan as the worst enemies of the people and of America.


  • Marcia Wilson

    I so totally agree with everything you stated. Now, my concern is that women everywhere will not stand against the GOP in November and VOTE THEM OUT!!

    I was able to watch the entire event unfold on cable. It was frightening to watch Kavanaugh display his true personality in his speech Thursday afternoon. If McConnell and his cronies push him through to the Supreme Court, women are doomed to second class lives again.

    Thank you for stating the facts. I’m praying that those who follow your writing will support, pass the word to others and REMEMBER IN NOVEMBER.

  • John

    I understand the rage – truly – but it’s only warranted if he’s lying and she is not. Isn’t the USA a country where you have the presumption of innocence ?

    Where is the burden of proof supposed to lie – with the accuser or the defendant ?

    You can’t live under the rule of law when it’s convenient and then toss it to the side when it’s not.

    An FBI investigation to find *evidence* is what’s needed. Otherwise you’re just like the crowds in Salem, whipped up to a fervor and ready to burn them at the cross.

    Try not to go there please – innocent until proven guilty is a bastion of democracy.

    • Di Francis

      Hi John~
      While I appreciate your sentiment, the fact is that both testified under oath and he demonstrated a habit of lying, as confirmed subsequently by many fact checks. He refused to answer questions and dodged them, as only a guilty man can. The FBI investigation was a sham, ignoring the many witnesses who could confirm or deny either story, and ignoring Swetnik. Kavanaugh also scrambled to “handle” the Ramirez accusation in July, well before it was made public, which means he lied, and which means he was attempting to cover up something. He was emailing friends to get them to corroborate his story.

      In this country, while we presume innocence until proven guilty, we also have a dreadful habit of not believing victims, discounting their stories as not-crimes, and generally giving men the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps this is not a courtroom setting, but I can tell you from his testimony, Blasey Ford’s testimony, and all the accusations and corroborations lend credence to her story. The fact that so many of his documents have been withheld, the inexplicable sudden payments of so many of his very large debts, the lies, the unwillingness to answer questions, the disinclination to ask for a full FBI investigation, and the emotional and partisan outbursts disqualify him from serving in any court. But the fact remains that I believe Blasey Ford’s sworn testimony. She was careful, emotional, and appeared very truthful. He did not.

      In my point of view, in fact he HAS been proven guilty.


      • Mitchell Stewart

        Regarding the presumption of innocence, and our commitment to the procedures of liberal democracy, the issues of gender illuminate a particular problem and a particular failing. The particularly Rawlsian notion of procedural justice is one we should cling to — but don’t: people generally want self-perceived “fair” outcomes, and are seldom satisfied with processes that do not result in those preconceived outcomes. While I believe this generalization applies across the political spectrum, I also believe it is more true on the “right” simply because the norms of justice are founded on hierarchy and implicit inequality. Which brings us to the failure of process with respect to gender: just processes, processes of justice, depend on assumptions of equal standing, of civic equality. But we know, to our sorrow and shame, first that women have not had equal standing, and second, that their claims especially of sexual oppression and abuse have been traditionally discounted on their face — and that women who have come forward have not just been disbelieved, but shamed. While this deficiency in justice applies to a range of social classes (e.g., immigrants throughout our history, blacks always, etc.,), it is a particular case for women. Thus it is, and sadly must be, our presumption that if a woman makes a claim of sexual abuse, it is her claim that must be the presumption. That is in general morally wrong, and it allows for its own set of injustice. But, I am more and more persuaded that some sets of injustice are qualitatively and quantitatively different, and must be weighed differently. So, in the case of Kavanaugh, it is not just what was said and how it was said in the testimony, but it is also a matter of where the presumption should lie. In the case of sexual abuse, of gender abuse, yes, I believe he should have the burden of proof, not her. Maybe not at the beyond reasonable doubt standard, but certainly in some preponderance of evidence. I suppose that means that generally we must conjecture that men are inclined toward sexual oppression and misogynistic behavior. Hmm, you think?

        • Di Francis

          I tend to agree. We need to think differently about sexual abuse and physical abuse–not only against women, but men and children a well. We need to stop all victim blaming and shaming. We must evolve our culture to put the focus of our justice on the perpetrator, and we must believe victims.

          One of the reasons I believe Blasey Ford, aside from what I’ve said in this post and in replies, is that she had far more reason not to come forward than to come forward. She’s paying a very high price for her honesty, and no one does that unless Their desire for justice run deep. And unless they are speaking the truth.

  • Mitchell Stewart

    I am at the point where I cannot bear to watch television whether CNN or MSNBC, or read the Times, the Post,Five Thirty Eight, or the Globe. Your justified from the heart and soul screaming rant in some ways deepens my despair. I lead courses in political and moral philosophy; I am enamored of the work of Debra Satz and Elizabeth Anderson. But, as I was preparing my class discussion notes I stared at this sentence in Satz: “…gender inequality has been supported by preferences internalized by women themselves …” Now, look out at our political landscape: Too many women find Trump, the Republican Party, and gender oppression morally permissible and practically acceptable. All men are not Kavanaughs — but too many are — but all women, not enough women, have internalized not just your rage but your sense of what civil, social, and political equality means, must mean. I was shocked when a sexual predator was somehow elected President; I now just despair that we will not see a Blue Wave, we will not see women, and men with a sense of social justice, rise up and retrieve this country from its inexorable slide into the moral abyss. I admire your rage as I have loved your writing, but I am not optimistic that it is as widely shared as you believe it should be. But, we cannot give up even in despair and rage.

    • Di Francis

      It’s really tough for me to watch as well, and yet I feel I must stay informed. So I watch news and comedy political TV. The latter helps me stay sane.

      Our perceptions of gender and of women’s roles is deeply ingrained in hegemony, which by definition cannot be examined until some sort of rupture has occurred to allow us to step outside of it to know the problem and then to change it. Plus hegemony resists change and punishes transgression. I think women have for a long time seen that hegemonic structures of gender roles are constructed to suit male experience. That perceptions of the world and definitions of normal and right are androcentric and that that needs to be changed. I could add race and gender identity and many other Othered people to the female category.

      I have to hope for change. I have to hope that as after Anita Hill, that more women came to Washington. In fact, right now, women candidates outnumber male candidates in the House races.

      But the impact of Kavanaugh will be scarring for a long time to come if he gets on the court. He will be impeachable, but whether that will be something that can be justified and whether the powers that be (or will be) will have the fortitude and courage to do so, that I do not know.

      Right now I’m hoping to hell he doesn’t get approved. Please all that’s holy, I hope GOP senators scrape a little moral courage and outrage and put it to good use. But I’m not holding my breath.

  • Erin

    I am a woman who has been falsely accused by another woman and who had to deal with the mess and upheaval that followed her lies.

    As a mother, I’ve seen over and over again how a child will believe something ABSOLUTELY happened one way, when it truly did not. I’ve seen the same process happen in family, friends, and co-workers.

    Memories are not VHS tapes that can be replayed and observed. Check out Dr. Elizabeth Loftus and her TED talk/research/court testimonies on memory. Like the person who accused me, Kavanaugh’s accuser may very well believe her story, but I know from personal experience that she could be very wrong.

    And if we allow a special standard for women who accuse men of sexual abuse decades later, who will protect the men? I think their rights are just as important. I acknowledge that coming from the other side of things, my opinion is going to be unpopular with most people who have responded to this blog entry, but I beg people to please, please consider the number of times people have wept and raised clenched fists for people who were falsely accused and imprisoned.

    When someone is accused of a sexual abuse crime, even if they are found to be innocent, they are never completely free from the cloud of suspicion. It carries a lifelong taint. For someone who knows that to react passionately is not at all unreasonable.

    And finally, I am a conservative republican. One who has purchased every single one of your books, who prayed for you when you went through your surgery, who felt compassion when you lost your dog, who has told dozens of people to check out your writings. I work hard at being a teacher, love my grandchildren to distraction, break my back in my gardens, and suck at knitting. I am one of the people you would probably see as morally corrupt, but I hope you’ll at least consider that there could be more to this than your post states.

    • Di Francis

      Hi Erin~

      I appreciate your perspective. However I believe Blasey Ford’s sworn testimony. I believe that the FBI was deliberately directed away from anyone who might corroborate her story. I found Kavanaugh unbelievable, particularly as he continued to lie, obfuscate, or entirely refuse to answer questions. I understand that you have been falsely accused and I’m sorry that happened to you, however statistics show that false accusations of men of sexual assault are incredibly rare: https://www.thecut.com/article/false-rape-accusations.html This article is just one that discusses that and points to more. Here’s a small portion that speaks to that:

      “It seems to be extremely rare for anyone to be wrongfully convicted as a result of a false accusation of rape,” she says. “I was only able to find 52 cases in 25 years where a conviction was later overturned after a wrongful conviction based on false rape allegations. In the same period, there were 790 cases where people were found to be wrongfully convicted of murder.” For what it’s worth, 790 divided by 52 is 15.2, meaning that by Newman’s data, you were 15 times likelier in that 25-year period to be wrongfully convicted of murder than of rape. And, let’s keep in mind, rape allegations resulting in convictions are already vanishingly rare: Newman cites a study that found that, of 216 assault complaints classified as false, only six led to arrest, and only two led to actual charges. (And even then, they were eventually deemed false.)

      Most of my family is incredibly conservative, so I have heard that perspective with great frequency and I strongly disagree with many of the stances that the GOP takes regarding women, healthcare, religion, LBGQT rights, choice, immigration, tax cuts for the wealthy, trickle-down economics, and many others. I believe Trump is a liar and he’s actively promoted racism, bigotry, and hatred for non-whites, women, and the poor. I believe that Kavanaugh on the court will set us back years and will tell sexual predators (again) that there are no consequences for attacking women. It’s sadly ironic how so many don’t want to believe Blasey Ford, Swetnick, and Ramirez, but they easily believe all the boys molested by priests. But then, our culture has a habit of discounting and discrediting women’s voices and experiences. Even your statement suggests that these women did not know what happened to them, which for a victim, is devastating. I hope that if any woman comes to me and says she’s been abused that I will believe her.

      Had the FBI conducted an actual real investigation and talked to the many many many witnesses out there who had information and attempted to give it, I believe that Blasey Ford’s story would have been corroborated. As it is, all we have is their testimony and all the reports, interviews, and sworn statements of other victims, roommates, friends, and people present, who’ve indicated that Kavanaugh lied over and over.

      I understand that you start with the expectation that women lie and falsely accuse and misremember these violent experiences. I cannot begin from there. I have never met an assault victim yet (and I have friends, family, and acquaintances who experienced this and remember with devastating clarity the fear, shame, humiliation, and horror of those events. I know the sexual harassment I experienced I remember with exquisite clarity. I wish I didn’t. I cultivate a bad memory of bad things so I can live in joy and peace, but some things are impossible to forget.

      I believe the system is designed to protect men. They need no more than they already have. Already female victims are discredited in a variety ways, from telling them they are wrong or don’t really remember to telling them it was their fault. If they hadn’t been there, hadn’t drunk that, hadn’t worn those clothes, hadn’t worn makeup, hadn’t done whatever it was that she should have. Instead she’s told she somehow told the predator he was welcome to violate her without repercussion. It’s her fault. Boys will be boys. They can’t know what their doing when their x age or they’re stressed and it’s just the way they are. It’s why I write strong women who beat that evil back.

      Keep in mind I don’t view men in general as predators. To my mind, most are not. But there are plenty who are and are willing to use women brutally to satisfy whatever drives them to violence and that kind of depravity. Our culture also is full of femalecentric insults that make being a woman or any kind of feminine a bad thing: run like a girl or cries like a girl. How many times in a day do you hear those? Or one of a thousand others.

      Most men who are accused of a sexual crime aren’t convicted because the system and our culture is such that it’s almost impossible for a woman to be believed. You can bet that if Kavanaugh was a woman and the accuser a man, the game would have been over. A woman shouldn’t have to worry about walking to her car in the dark. About jogging after dark. About walking alone. About checking under and around and in her car before she gets in. About who’s nearby who might attack. About whether something she wears my cause a man to grope her or say lewd things or wolf-whistle. Women should be allowed to live in the same world as men with the same expectations and the same acceptance and belief in their integrity. That they are equally worthy to be believed.

      Now here’s a question. How do you know that Kavanaugh isn’t misremembering? That he believes that he didn’t do it even though he did? That in fact, he is wrong and she is right? I would be willing to bet that possibility didn’t occur to you. I’m willing to bet that you came to the situation with an unconscious automatic belief that he couldn’t be misremembering or lying.

  • Erin

    You would lose that bet. I’ve considered it, watched as much of the hearings as I could, read a ridiculous number of articles and blogs.

    We need to train our young men to be moral respecters of women. We need to train our girls to shout and yell and scream WHEN they are being assaulted – create a culture where it’s never embarrassing or scary to tell any adult who will listen.

    But I still say that the man should be considered innocent unless proven guilty. And to claim him guilty without evidence or due process is gross intolerance and a slippery slope that will gradually destroy this country.

    • Di Francis

      For me, the reverse of what your saying is untenable. That is to assume the woman is lying until she proves she was victimized. That’s demanding she overcomes her trauma and her pain and her fear in order to risk herself to people who automatically assume he’s not guilty and therefore she’s lying. Too many sexual predator men find ways to prevent the victim from having evidence. They use condoms. They threaten her. They threaten her family and her job and her friends. They drug her. Take advantage of her when she’s unable to consent or say no.

      Which is why I start from the end of believing the woman and at the very least, I require that the man in question be investigated. Kavanaugh was not. Both gave sworn testimony. I found her more credible, particularly since he lied over and over and over and over. If this were a courtroom, I would be convinced. As it’s a job interview, I he lacks the qualities I require in an employee: even temperament, fairness, a commitment to telling the truth. The sexual assault just cements my perceptions.

  • MaryW

    I have not commented on this subject before but I need to ask how you would feel if 30 years after your son graduated from high school he was accused of this type of crime. There are no other witnesses just the woman’s word. No other evidence was presented that could be confirmed. In fact her witnesses stated they had no memory of the event.

    I am asking because I have 3 sons who graduated between 15 and 25 years ago. I have no knowledge that they have behaved in the manner you are assuming Kavanaugh did. Nor do I know that your son will be accused of similar behavior. Am I expected to believe another woman if she accuses them 30 years after the “event” but she cannot provide any evidence? Would you accept that evidence against your son?

    I could not. People do lie. In this particular instance the person accused will always have an asterisk after his name even though there is no proof. The Duke lacrosse team is just one example of a woman who lied.

    • Di Francis

      Hi Mary~

      What would you do if your daughter came to you and told you someone had tried to rape her, that she was willing to give sworn testimony and brave death threats and being forced out of her home and vilified. But! She wants an investigation. She has names that police can talk to to verify her account. And not only that, two other women have come forward to make similar accounts and are also willing to testify under oath. Plus the man who did it started texting friends before any of it came out to try to consolidate a story.

      But then the police decide to not even talk to her. And only talk to a couple select people and not the list of people who can serve as witness. And the other women will be ignored as if they don’t exist. Plus the police will put a cone of silence over the investigation.

      As I said, given the circumstances, I believe her testimony. I found her credible and not him. Should we wait to judge? Wait until when? Nobody is bothering to do a real investigation or pursue it. Nobody is willing to make him accountable for the many lies he told under oath. He’s a habitual perjuror. That makes him even less believable. In fact, the powers that be excuse him at every turn.

      If someone accused my son, no, I wouldn’t believe it. I taught him very well and he’s got enormous respect for women and is non-violent. He doesn’t drink. He doesn’t go to parties. So he’d never be that guy. And that’s the thing. Given what we’ve learned about Kavanaugh, I believe he tried to rape her. I believe that he’s willing to lie in every way to cover it up. I believe that eventually someone will dig out this information and write a story for the news. I’m betting there are many journalists digging into it right now. At least I hope so.

      • MaryW

        I have no daughter but do have a number of younger sisters and brothers in addition to my sons. So I can empathize with your first statement.

        The individuals mentioned in her letter to Senator Feinstein who could serve as witnesses did not corroborate Blasey Ford’s testimony. She did not remember where it happened or the date or who else was at the party. She did not talk to the police. I need evidence in order to believe her and I have not seen any. I have seen a lot a blatant prejudice and attempts to intimidate and some actual violence – the shooting of Steve Scalise and others is only one example.

        But nothing I can say will change your mind. It is closed on this issue. Mine is as well. This was was a”Borking” or another attempt as Clarence Thomas put it of a “high tech lynching”.

        • Di Francis

          Actually, she did give substantial and credible details, which you’ll find if you re-watch her testimony. I think if you re-watch Kavanaugh’s testimony he avoided questions, responded with anger rather than answers, and generally gave a very poor performance of an innocent man. The FBI investigation was stunted and curtailed to keep it from actually asking questions of all witnesses and getting to the more evidence.

          But as you say, you will not convince me and I will not convince you. We are looking at the situation through very different lenses and I am convinced by her eye-witness testimony. As for Clarence Thomas, he got off scott free a well.

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