Open yet measured, expert but obliging, Ford tried to be the perfect witness. But why do we ask so much of women’s testimony?by Charlotte Lydia Riley / September 27, 2018 / Leave a comment
Watching Professor Christine Blasey Ford testify to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday afternoon as to an alleged assault by Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh, which she claims took place while she was a teenager, was amazing and horrifying in equal measure. (Kavanaugh has denied the allegations.)
Amazing, because watching Ford on the stand is to be astounded by her competency and intelligence. She speaks quietly, but firmly; when her voice breaks or waivers, she pauses and then moves on.
But it is horrifying to watch, too, as a professional and polished woman was forced to tell her story of assault in excruciating detail in order to pursue what she sees as justice.
Not criminal justice—the statute of limitations put paid to that. And certainly not personal justice for Ford, forced to drag open her life live on television and broadcast around the world.
Ford is fighting for what she sees as political justice, to prevent Kavanaugh’s appointment to one of the most important positions in the American legal and constitutional system.
Ford has been accused by many in America of being motivated by partisanship or, at the very least, of being a stooge of partisan forces—the assumption being that she is a Democrat, or being used by the Democrats.
But she talked clearly about her motivations about coming forward: she said she had agonised about it, had weighed up, carefully, the public interest against the potential cost to herself. She said she had written her initial letter in confidence and had wanted to make her intervention before Kavanaugh was the sole nominee, so that his appointment could be stopped early in the process.
Once Kavanaugh seemed to be the sole appointee, Ford said, she initially thought there was no point in coming forward; she didn’t want to stand in front of a train that wasn’t going to stop anyway. She says she only agreed to go public when reporters came to her house and her workplace, with one reporter even attending one of her graduate seminars.
As a female academic myself, that detail—a reporter sitting in a graduate seminar class, posing as a student,…