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“Why Should We Believe Her?” Why Not?


Brett Kavanaugh, during his Senate confirmation hearing in 2004. He can maintain his innocence amid multiple accusations of sexual misconduct while we view his accusers as credible. It’s not a zero-sum game. (Image Credit: CSPAN)

Note: This piece was written and published prior to Julie Swetnick’s allegations being made public.

As the drama surrounding Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court drags on, it, unfortunately, is difficult to say what has been the most disheartening aspect of this process. Certainly, for people who have lamented the partisan rancor of American politics in recent memory, calls to delay or speed up proceedings have done little to assuage their concerns. On a personal note, I consider anything that makes Mitch McConnell more relevant than he usually is a net loss as well, but that is for each of us to decide.

In all seriousness, though, probably the worst aspect of this whole affair is that it has dredged up so many awful attitudes on the subject of sexual assault, rape, and accountability for males in the #MeToo era. For those previously living under a rock, Kavanaugh has been accused by two women of some form of egregious sexual behavior, with Deborah Ramirez, board member and volunteer at Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence and Yale University graduate, joining Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, a psychologist and professor of statistics at Palo Alto University, as an accuser. Since coming out to allege Kavanaugh of trying to force himself on her as a teenager, Blasey Ford and her family have been subject to death threats and have been forced to hire private security. For his part, Kavanaugh and his family have received threats too.

Then again, maybe the pain of hearing and reading the callous disbelief of some observers is worth exposing their misguided and outmoded ways of thinking. Still, that the tenor of arguments outside the purview of Congress and Washington, D.C. echoes that of lawmakers who divide reflexively along party lines is disturbing. In reality, regardless of whether or not Kavanaugh gets the job, the believability of Blasey Ford and other survivors should not be a partisan issue.

That opinions along gender lines might similarly be divided is likewise unsettling, albeit somewhat understandable. There’s a probable generational component, too, as well as other ways by which responses may be separated. As a white cisgender male young adult, my perspective may be indicative of this identity, so feel free to keep this context in mind as you weigh my thoughts.

With that said, let’s address some of the comments one is liable to hear leading up to a prospective vote on Brett Kavanaugh’s candidacy to be a Supreme Court Justice.

“Boys will be boys.”

Ah, yes. The old “boys will be boys” line. While keeping in mind the notion that Kavanaugh was reportedly in high school when he is alleged to have made an unwanted advance on Christine Blasey, or in college when a second instance of alleged unsolicited sexual behavior occurred with Deborah Ramirez, his relative youth or hormones doesn’t excuse the way he acted—it merely provides context. Especially considering that there is no accompanying sentiment that “girls should be girls,” if young women are expected to behave as ladies, young men should be able to comport themselves as gentlemen. Particularly if they belong to the “superior” sex, and sarcastic eye-rolls are warranted in this instance.

What’s alarming to me is how I’ve heard women defend Kavanaugh’s behavior along these lines, more so on the side of supporters of the Republican Party, and yet even so. “I mean, what hot-blooded male hasn’t acted like that?” Well, I haven’t, for one, and neither have the men who make consensual sexual acts a priority. Even if we’re grading Kavanaugh personally on a curve because “things were different then,” it’s 2018 and he will be adjudicating matters according to today’s standards. Right here and now, “boys will be boys” needs to be retired.

“They were drinking/drunk.”

Right. We know that alcohol consumption can lower inhibitions. It can make us do things we wouldn’t normally do and would be wise in avoiding, such as throwing table tennis balls in plastic cups and drinking out of them regardless of where those balls have been or, say, eating at White Castle. Nevertheless, getting inebriated does not obviate an individual’s obligation to behave responsibly, nor it does comprise consent to be violated in any way. This is akin to the notion that females dressed in a certain way are “asking for it.” It’s victim-blaming, and it’s not an acceptable defense for sexual assault or rape. End of story.

The other main reason for invoking alcohol is to cast aspersions on the veracity of the accuser’s account. Deborah Ramirez was drinking at the time of the alleged incident, and as such, there are “gaps” in her memory. This notwithstanding, she maintains she is confident enough in what she does remember about Kavanaugh’s conduct and that it warrants scrutiny. That should be enough, and if what Ramirez is saying is accurate, it makes Kavanaugh’s behavior seem that much more appalling that he would try to take advantage of the situation.

“If it really happened, she/he would’ve gone to the authorities.”

Sigh. There is any number of reasons why victims of sexual abuse, sexual assault, sexual harassment, or rape might be reluctant to file a police report or even tell people close to them about it. They might feel a sense of shame surrounding what happened, despite deserving no blame. They might be in denial or aim to minimize the gravity of it. They might be afraid of potential repercussions or simply fear they won’t be believed, especially if drugged or under the influence of alcohol. They already might suffer from low self-esteem and somehow think they deserve to be mistreated. They might feel a sense of helplessness or hopelessness about the situation. They might not even recognize what happened to them constitutes one of the above. Perhaps worst of all, they might already have been a victim, fundamentally altering their approach to future such situations.

In short, there’s plenty of legitimate reasons why an unsolicited sexual advance or encounter might go unreported. Noting this, we should afford victims understanding and the chance to come forward with their recollections when they are ready. Besides, this is before we get to the instances of victims who do come forward and still aren’t taken at their word.

“They’re just doing this to get their 15 minutes of fame.”

Yes—all that fame. Besides Anita Hill and famous victims of Harvey Weinstein et al., how many of these people who report an assault or rape do you know offhand? I’m guessing not many. Sure—we know Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez right now. Will we remember them 10 years down the road? Five, even?

As is their misfortune, if they are remembered by the masses, they likely won’t be known for being compassionate, intelligent, proud women with college degrees and inspired careers. They’ll instead probably be known simply as accusers, their names forever tied to the man who allegedly victimized them. Depending on the audience, they also stand to be vilified for trying to bring a “good man” down, and as noted, there’s the matter of death threats and potential professional repercussions. For the supposed benefits, these accusers have that much more to lose. Courageous? Yes. Glorious? No.

“This is all just part of a Democratic smear campaign.”

You can question the timing of these revelations and whether there is any political dimension to them. Blasey Ford and Ramirez are either registered Democrats or have donated to liberal/progressive groups, though they aver that this did not factor into their decision to come forward. At the end of the day, however, if the allegations are true, does any of this matter? So what if these accounts come to light less than two months before the midterm elections? There’s never a “good” time to disclose such inconvenient truths.

Nor does it matter that these events happened years, decades ago. Regardless of whether or not the accused can still be found guilty in a court of law, victims may still live with the pain and shame of their encounter. If left untreated, these wounds will not heal. That’s not something we should encourage in the name of political expediency.

After all, in speaking of timing and political expediency, how are we to regard Kavanaugh’s letter signed by 65 women who knew him when he attended high school and attest to his honorable behavior and treatment of women with respect? How were these women found and contacted so quickly to produce this document? And what does this prove? If we can view Blasey’s and Ramirez’s past conduct through a critical lens, we can view this attempt to sway the minds of ranking congressional members similarly. Just because Brett Kavanaugh didn’t disrespect these women doesn’t mean he didn’t hurt others.

Ever since the likes of Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein were being brought down by accusers nowhere near as powerful or famous as they are, many observers have had a tough time reconciling apparently conflicting principles. One is that purported victims of sexual assault and other crimes should be believed, regardless of gender. Since women are disproportionately victims in this regard, this means implicitly believing women. The other principle is presumption of innocence. Until we know all “the facts,” Brett Kavanaugh shouldn’t be labeled a sexual predator.

While noting that this is more akin to a job interview than a trial for Kavanaugh and while the court of public opinion increasingly seems to eschew the need for a preponderance of evidence before assigning guilt, we would do well to remain open to the idea that both sides of the story could be true. Brett Kavanaugh claims he is innocent. That is his version of the truth. Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez claim otherwise. That is their version of the truth. Not being in the room with them, we can’t know for sure. But without subscribing to an agenda, we can choose which of these is the best answer, so to speak. Assuming these parties testify, that is what the Senate Judicial Committee will be tasked with.

Whomever we personally believe, the important thing is that these claims be investigated. With all due respect to Kavanaugh and his family, as well as the aims of Mitch McConnell and Chuck Grassley, the veracity of the accusations supersedes their feelings. “Judge Kavanaugh’s reputation might suffer.” So? What of his accusers? If recent history is any indication, Kavanaugh might not receive enough votes to be confirmed, but it’s unlikely he will suffer serious adverse effects to his livelihood as a result of these proceedings.

For instance, for his supposed fall from grace, Louis C.K. was able to do a surprise comedy routine less than a year since he admitted wrongdoing. For men like him, it’s evidently a question of when he will come back, not if he should. For the women who were his victims, they can’t come back to prominence—and there’s a good chance they gave up on comedy because of how they were treated by him. For every James Franco starring in The Deuce, there’s an Ally Sheedy who cites Franco as a reason not to ask her why she left the television/film business. That sounds messed up to me.

As for McConnell and his Republican brethren, I have little to no sympathy for their wanting to get Brett Kavanaugh confirmed despite multiple claims of misconduct and after refusing to hear Merrick Garland’s nomination by Barack Obama following the death of Antonin Scalia. If you want a nominee for Supreme Court Justice voted on with less controversy, you and your GOP mates should do a better job of vetting one. Pick again. We’ll wait. It’s not our problem if you can’t afford to.

In the end, those of us who believe Christine Blasey Ford, Deborah Ramirez, and all purported victims of sexual assault until given a reason to doubt them do so because we simply have no reason to doubt them in the first place. If Brett Kavanaugh is innocent and telling the truth, he will likely be confirmed (and may be anyway, for that matter), and we lose nothing. It is those who reflexively question the accusers and hack away at their credibility that risk inexorable damage to their own. For their sake, I hope they like their odds.

Joseph Mangano

Joseph Mangano has been blogging for over 10 years in various forms. He once interned for Xanga as an editor and writer. He graduated with a BA in Psychology from Rutgers University, and an MBA in Accounting from William Paterson University. He resides in northern New Jersey, and has only once pumped his own gas. When not writing, he enjoys being part of an acoustic rock duo that never actually plays any shows, watching sports, and chasing Pokémon. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @JFMangano.

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  1. Sue Wise September 26, 2018

    Why should we believe him????

    1. 135boom October 8, 2018

      Why should we believe her? The facts as presented by her and her and her friends do not line up. Now if Brett did do this, things like this don’t typically happen just once, there would be a pattern. Frankly, there is none. In fact, the other person that came forward has a history of pathological lying. Frankly, this looks and smells like a liberal smear. Remember how in the beginning when Brett’s name first came up how even the left talking heads and democrat party (including Feinstein herself) were saying how this was one of the best candidates ever? But suddenly after holding onto this supposed letter, Feinstein decides to let this loose after her lawyers on the complete other side of the country happen to work with this woman to make up a story.
      Nope, while other men want to say they “think” this woman experienced an event, I think she is making the entire thing up. She has been in the field of psychology long enough to create a plausible story based upon people she studied. My opinion is that she might have been ignored by Brett at some party or had her advances rejected by him. He would not remember her, but she might seems the type to hold a judge until she could get back at him. He went on to be a great success while she is some professor nobody that has not amounted to anything much.

  2. Sabrina Boles September 26, 2018

    No why shouldn’t we believe all four of them

    1. Scott October 20, 2018

      Because not one .. not one story by anyone could be corroborated..
      All fell apart under any scrutiny .. so let’s call it what it was .. political BS .. posturing .. hysteria .and a conjured framework to stop a legitimate appointment by any means necessary regardless of integrity ..

  3. Carol Carpinteyro September 26, 2018

    There paid to lie to stall vote confirm already

    1. Lynda L B Duke September 26, 2018

      And we have A GOP TROLL HERE

    2. Carol Carpinteyro September 26, 2018

      Lynda L B Duke. Come on its a stall to not vote.

    3. Charles Gould September 26, 2018

      I feel sorry for any parent that has a young boy in high school that thinks this behavior is ok ! And any parent that has a young daughter that its ok for boys to try and rape them . Any parent that thinks this is ok they need to lock them up

    4. Carol Carpinteyro September 26, 2018

      Charles Gould yes but as parents we have to talk to them and tell them it needs to be reported asap not years later plus demercrats already said they will stall vote.

    5. Patricia Smith September 26, 2018

      Lynda L B Duke, yes we do . . .and a not too competent one at that. ?

  4. Shirley Hawkins September 26, 2018

    Why should we believe anything kavanaugh say.

  5. Gail Ladella September 26, 2018


    1. Charles Freedom September 26, 2018

      Gail get back to your cage and MAGA. ??

  6. Charles Freedom September 26, 2018

    Why should we believe you or that mean liar trump?

    1. Tere Calderon September 26, 2018

      Charles Freedom agree

  7. N.L. McCoy September 26, 2018

    Check this out:
    Call to Rush Limbaugh

    “A woman who was a classmate of Kavanaugh’s back in Yale called into Rush Limbaugh’s show yesterday and claimed that members of the media had hounded her over the summer in an attempt to get her to say something negative about him:”

    “[ They’re trying to get dirt on him. I’ve had this happen once over the summer, and the person who called — the reporter — in the middle of the summer, when I wasn’t able to give her any dirt, she started to lead me, just like leading the witness. She started suggesting terrible things that I should say about him, and when I wasn’t able to do that she started leading me down the road. “Can I say anything negative about the groups that he participated in, you know, the clubs that he was a part of while he was at Yale?” Again, I wouldn’t say anything negative about them as well. I didn’t have anything negative to say but he was really offended. The reporters are calling me, of all people, to get negative things to come up with, and it really makes me suspicious that these women who are coming forward have had something similar to them done to them as well, that somebody’s leading them and spurring them on and urging them.]”

    “When I (Rush) wrote earlier this evening that all this crap is just a ploy by the left to stop Kavanaugh’s confirmation, I meant the media too. The media is in on it. They’re doing everything in their power to thwart Trump’s SCOTUS pick, and it’s as clear as day!”

    Copy and paste!

    1. Rachel Puccio September 26, 2018

      N.L. McCoy. And I sure believe that coming from POS Limbaugh’s show!!

    2. N.L. McCoy September 26, 2018

      Rachel Puccio

    3. Howard Stokes September 26, 2018


  8. Louise Dodson September 26, 2018

    Why should we believe him when indeed he perjured himself at The questioning

  9. Aine Hughes September 26, 2018

    There needs to be a professional investigation of both sides,otherwise it’s a “he said/ she said”.
    This is a lifetime appointment,which is bullshit.
    How about term limits for judges,they lose their minds too!
    He should not be appointed on public opinion,mob rule FB pages etc.

  10. Linda Krider September 27, 2018

    I believe her

  11. Donna Rae Mathre September 27, 2018

    we should believe her because .he is a republican liar and I think they all are liars and perverts and we have been shut up for ever. she is telling the truth he is just one more pervert in government

  12. Linda Fannon October 2, 2018

    It must be all sides! Not one!!! He is questionable in action!!! We need to see all of investigation!!!

  13. Larry L. Cunningham October 2, 2018

    Why believe him?

  14. Maria Vaz October 3, 2018

    Why should we believe him he was drunk most of the time!

    1. Scott October 20, 2018

      Drunk ??!! Really … how do you know??
      Because someone opposed to his confirmation said so ??
      He was so drunk that he was always at the top of his class .. he was so drunk that dozens came out to speak about what a gentleman was.. he was so drunk he went on to becom one of the top legal mind in the country ..
      Why don’t you Wake up…

  15. Betty Jansen October 3, 2018

    I believe her!!!

  16. Katrina Tina Herbus Manko October 3, 2018

    Seriously if he did these things knew they were there would he have accepted the nominee do this to himself and his family no he was so happy that day it’s a shame what soros and left are doing and everyone of us better wake up this is how Hitler started any one could be next be accused and seen guilty prove your innocent that’s not the way it works

    1. Frederick Gates October 3, 2018

      Another idiot , Trump just days ago praised her . Then Four days later mocked her . Which is it Trump ?

  17. Betty Major October 3, 2018

    Got to believe her and the other four, not that sniveling little weasel

  18. Mary Thompson October 3, 2018

    That’s the face of entitlement slipping away and he is pissed…

  19. Charles Huber October 3, 2018

    Screw you you stupid democrat

  20. Chari Hayes October 3, 2018

    The behavior in situations of sexual assault by the accused and his backers is quite appalling.
    Not only do they shame the victim, they threaten them and lie.
    The reason I say victim is because I don’t believe anyone who acts like he did during the hearing.
    If he is innocent he has to prove it. I don’t belive him.

  21. Donna Rae Mathre October 3, 2018

    itsds you who is lying and most of us do believe her . you are swine and belong in jail ,not on any bench

  22. Martin D Regis October 3, 2018

    I believe most of what she stated,” I don;t remember – most of her answers, so do believe her but really can not believe she knows 100% it was the Judge.

  23. Doug Bryant October 3, 2018

    Poor little rich boy.

  24. Dan Fryling October 3, 2018

    This is a dispicable setup by Democrats. She provided nothing credible and was a weak witness.

  25. Deborah Anderson October 3, 2018

    Because he’s a liar and many want to come forward

  26. Ruth Scanzillo October 11, 2018

    Comprehensively presented. Thank you, Joe!!


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