Sexual predators are not the victims

In a society where sexual assault is normalized, victim blaming is all too common.


by Madeline Loehr, Photo Editor

On Sept.16, The Washington Post published an article revealing the sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Psychology professor Dr. Christine Blasey Ford wrote a letter to Senator Dianne Feinstein explaining that a drunk, teenage Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge forced her into a bedroom and pinned her down, laying on top of her at a party in 1982. When the allegations came out, the United States split in two: Ford was either considered a hero for women or a pawn created by Democrats to destroy Kavanaugh’s reputation.

I find that this response is all too common for sexual assault allegations. The perpetrators are treated as the victims and the real victims are blamed for what happened to them or discredited altogether. Recently, Fox News host Tucker Carlson criticized women who don’t report their abuse saying, “You’re part of the problem.” Why is it that women are pushed to come forward about their assault, yet when they do, they aren’t taken seriously?

According to the National Sexual Assault Violence Resource Center (NSAVRC), two out of three sexual assaults go unreported. After Ford came out about Kavanaugh, she was immediately slandered for waiting 36 years to talk about the assault. Ford did not come forward to ruin Kavanaugh’s life, rather as her civic duty to inform senators, and ultimately the public, that a potential Supreme Court justice has a history of assault.  

During her testimony, Ford was calm and cooperative, although she appeared a bit shaken. She answered all questions directly and eloquently. Kavanaugh, on the other hand, started off emotional but soon became overtly aggressive and avoided answering questions. When asked if he had ever drank to the point of blacking out, he responded with an indignant, “Have you?” No matter what side you’re on, this feels like an inappropriate response to have during a job interview.

The Ford-Kavanaugh case has ultimately turned into a bipartisan issue, leading people to wonder if Kavanaugh was set up by Democrats. Sexual assault is a humanitarian issue, it is not Democrat or Republican. Perhaps the point of this is that all people are being forced to examine their behavior, even if it was 36 years ago.

Every 98 seconds, someone in the United States becomes a victim of sexual assault. Sadly, women have to prepare to enter society with men in power. Starting in grade school, women are taught to avoid assault: carry pepper spray, never accept an open drink, always walk in pairs. Although there has been some change in the roles of equality between men and women, when it comes to sexual assault, it seems to rewind 50 years.

When it comes to sex, men are praised for their sexual milestones. However, women are held to much different standards. Women are often placed into two groups: sluts or prudes. This is one of the main reasons why women don’t speak out about sexual abuse. Immediately, victims are blamed for dressing in a provocative manner, because obviously, that means they are asking for it. Less clothing does not, in any way, equal consent.

I have always suffered from anxiety, but because I have spent too many hours watching The First 48, I often worry that I am just being paranoid. Hearing about the Kavanaugh hearings, the fear of sexual assault resonated. Maybe when I clutch my keys in between my fingers, call my friend Rachel when I walk to my car alone, or when I lower my head and tense up around large groups of men, I’m not being paranoid. I am a 17-year-old girl who goes to an all-girls school. Dr. Ford was a 15-year-old girl who went to an all-girls school. Sexual assault is something that I, and all other women, need to worry about on a daily basis and that is horrifying.

I cannot definitively say if Kavanaugh is guilty of Ford’s accusations, but what I do know is this: women are being silenced. When 1 out of every 6 women in the United States will be the victim of rape, we need to be afraid. We need to fight back. We need to be loud. Register and vote on Nov. 6, and make your voice heard.