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Being a Woman in a Post-Kavanaugh Confirmation America

Ellie Graff, News Editor

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It’s been a month since the United States Senate confirmed Brett Kavanaugh as a Supreme Court Justice. Though protested by many, an event that would have caused much more of a longstanding upset a few years ago is now consigned to oblivion by most of the country. Since the 2016 presidential election, we, as a nation, have become accustomed to a cycle, especially in regards to decisions made in the government; we mourn, we accept, and we move on. Kavanaugh’s swearing in to the Supreme Court was no different. Millions of women, many survivors of sexual harassment and assault themselves, watched as a man accused of sexual misconduct obtained an extremely influential position in the government that he will now hold for the rest of his life. Since, according to the CDC, one in five women will be raped at some point in their lives, it is important to investigate what this decision means for women and our country as a whole.

John Adams High School students Cecily Ball and Safra Arevalo both found found Kavanaugh’s successful infiltration of the Supreme Court disheartening. Arevalo, who stated  “from solely hearing his [Kavanaugh] side of the story, I initially thought that he seemed innocent,” later came to feel, “As a woman who is for the equality of all and doing the right thing, I think this decision is demoralizing. The government could have easily appointed some other qualified individual to be on the Court,” and Ball felt that “it proves that a woman’s voice is not as valuable as a man’s.” If this statement is true, it may explain why an estimated 63% of sexual assaults are not reported to police.

Taylor Gilliam, an English teacher at Adams, commented on how the treatment of Dr. Ford, the accuser, and the lack of a thorough FBI investigation into the case elucidate “why a woman won’t come forward.” Many women find it useless to speak up about their experiences because their statements are not treated as valid. As Gilliam elaborated, “Silence makes it more accessible for these acts to be committed,” and in a world where women feel silence is their only option, they’ve come to expect these heinous crimes to occur. Although all three women were upset about the decision to vote Kavanaugh in, Gilliam “assumed that was going to happen anyways,” and Ball “was sad to hear that it happened” but “wasn’t surprised it happened.”

In terms of what Kavanaugh’s place on the court means for our government as a whole, a sense of unease and defeat was felt from each response. Ball stated, “It honestly makes me nervous to trust the government in making the most morally correct decision, especially because these people are supposed to better the country I live in.” Even Arevalo, who believed Kavanaugh to be innocent at the beginning of the hearing, fears “our government is going downhill in terms of morality and is rising in the characteristic of selfishness.”

Unfortunately, there are many other cases to similar to this one. In addition, the “brash” behaviors of the accused individuals, particularly Kavanaugh, tend to be “synonymous with [the] president,” according to Gilliam, and “more justified” since Trump’s election in 2016.  She was, however, “impressed with the closeness of the vote” and interpreted it as a “glimmer of hope for change.” Ultimately, though, in the words of Gilliam, this event demonstrates how even when people, especially women, do make their voices heard and do make great efforts to prevent people they believe are unfit to serve in the government from securing positions of great power, “it’s not enough.”

About the Writer
Ellie Graff, News Editor

Ellie Graff is a junior at John Adams High School. She has lived in South Bend, Indiana for fifteen years, but she loves telling people she is “from” Chicago despite moving only one year after her birth. She considers herself to be a very involved student, participating in the IB Program, Show Choir, and Mock Trial. She has won the Most Effective Witness award at the Indiana Mock Trial State Competition, and though there aren’t currently any awards for Show Choir, she would probably win them too. Ellie fell in love with writing at a young age, and has developed an interest in investigative journalism. She recently attended a pre-college program at the High School Journalism Institute of Indiana University Bloomington where she and her partner-in-crime, Cameron Pierce, created an exposé style documentary on the malnourished Oklahoma Public School System. Ellie hopes to attend Indiana University Bloomington in the fall of 2020, and is excited for opportunities to study abroad, as she aims to become fluent in Spanish through immersion. After she graduates, Ellie aspires to enroll in the Nonprofit Management program at Case Western Reserve University. She dreams of one day founding her own nonprofit, but she doesn’t know which one of the world’s many problems she wants to help solve yet, so don’t ask because she’ll feel dumb. Ellie currently lives with her mother, father, sister, and dog, Buddy. She likes to spend her free time hanging out with friends, taking naps, and her favorite pastime of all: eating.

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Being a Woman in a Post-Kavanaugh Confirmation America