Op-Eds Opinion

Gallo: For the love of God: Be better than Brett

Vin Gallo

Hey guys. If you’re reading this on the day of publication, Oct. 11 2018, you know very well what this is about. And if you’re reading this 10, 20, 30 years in the future, I hope times have changed for the better.

It’s been five days since the Senate swore in Brett Kavanaugh to take a lifetime seating on the Supreme Court. Maybe it made you cry, maybe it pissed you off and ruined your day, maybe it made you shake your head. Maybe you were indifferent. Maybe it made you rejoice.

Regardless, the Senate’s decision to appoint Kavanaugh comes 36 years after his sexual assault of Christine Blasey Ford, according to her testimony.

Three days prior to being sworn in, American support of Kavanaugh’s denial of the claims stood at 33 percent. Forty-five percent of Americans believed Ford.

Something I want to get out of the way, right away, is that I don’t consider myself a lefty or a righty when it comes to politics. I know a lot of people my age who affiliate the same way. Speaking from my standpoint, from neither the side of liberal nor conservative: I believe Ford.

I was sketched out by Kavanaugh’s testimony. I was sketched out by the 10-minute marathon answers that went nowhere. The passive aggressive “have you’s” when he was confronted about drinking and intoxication. The ominous pause before declaring a Devil’s Triangle as a “drinking game” (that’s not what it is).

And I find it hard to fathom that Ford would fabricate a story, not only because such instance is rare in sexual assault claims, but also due to the risk she took in finally confronting a male figure who had since gained further power.

I want to get one thing straight. I’m in no way intending to speak about anything I don’t understand, or have never experienced as a man. I don’t mean any disrespect. I don’t want to pretend I know what it’s like to be a woman in today’s society. At the same time, I’m not speaking for all men with this piece. I don’t want to pretend, or give off any impression that I’m “woke,” because I’m far, far, from that. I just want to discuss what us guys can do to help, because although I may not know everything, I understand that women don’t enjoy the feeling of safety as much as we do.

Ford’s claim, as expected, drew hate towards her. A lot of it. I find it hard to back the Republican belief that she would risk her peace of mind to “pose” for the Democrats. If that’s the case, the Dems are just as corrupt as the Republicans for using such a story and discrediting future assault victims whose stories are true.

I wasn’t surprised by the ruling. Because even after living for only two decades in this country, I know that it is habitual in sweeping occurrences under the rug in order to save images.

Claims from women of sexual assault seem to be treated similarly. Someone speaks on one of the worst moments of her life…and nobody listens. It was stated with Ford’s case that there “wasn’t enough evidence.” Mitch McConnell referred to her support as a “mob.”

A woman’s testimony should still be evidence, especially in this case, when the man’s testimony is giving off a disturbing aura.

It makes me wonder what difference it would make, whether Ford accused Kavanaugh in 1982 or in 2018. If a significant percentage in today’s society doesn’t believe her, then what are the chances she is heard 36 years prior?

Throughout my time in learning to become a journalist, I’ve kept one specific teaching of one of my college professors very much in mind. That there’s no better feeling one can experience than being heard, than feeling that they have been understood.

As men, I feel like we can most definitely stand to open our damn ears for once and listen to some stories instead of being either annoyed or cold about what women go through. Because I’m tired of people like Kavanaugh making me feel disgusted with being a man. And based on how some men act negatively when the topic of feminism is brought up, I don’t think I’m alone when I say I don’t want to be associated with that.

So instead of brushing womens’ viewpoints off, or berating them, why can’t we just listen to stories and try to learn from them? If we truly respect women then we’ll be more attentive instead of letting anger or discomfort turn into misogyny.

I know there’s also the counter-argument of pointing to other country’s rights for women, or rather lack-thereof, and claiming, “hey, at least we’re not _. Women have it a lot better here.” Ok, sure that might be true. But I can’t help but think that’s our excuse as a first world country to refuse to try and better ourselves further.

No life is the same life. We all have different experiences, so never trust your knowledge of someone else’s perspective or angle when you haven’t heard their side yet, or haven’t lived through what they’ve lived through. How can anyone discredit a claim when they haven’t lived a life anything remotely close to someone else themselves?

Now that Kavanaugh is a part of the Supreme Court, we have to try to be a difference in the lives of the women we know and be there for them. And if a stranger is in danger, we need to help her too.

I know everyone has their own opinion on Roe vs. Wade. But since Kavanaugh’s a part of the Court now, there’s a realistic chance that could be taken away. Maybe some of you are pro-life, but regardless, Roe vs. Wade is a major women’s right. There’s always a chance more follow its abolishment. We don’t know.

Be compassionate. Be understanding. We should already know this, it should be common knowledge. We shouldn’t have to use the Senate appointment of somebody who, to put it lightly, may not respect women (nearly) as much as he should, as motivation. We should already be motivated. And that’s not limited to men, we all have to be compassionate people. But if you know a woman who doesn’t feel heard, or doesn’t feel safe, be there for her. Especially in the world we’re living in now.

We have to be better than both the men who have done horrible things and the men who let it happen. Respect the presence and impact of the women in your lives. Help defend them if they need it. Listen to them.

Since coming to college I’ve met amazing women who I’m so lucky to be able to look up to and call my friends. They’ve all been there for me. All of them. I can’t handle the thought that they’re not safe, or well, or not taken seriously. I couldn’t handle it when I found out one of them got hurt, when someone hurt her.

I can’t stand it when men like Kavanaugh use the “I have a lot of friends who are women,” as a card to avoid criticism. At the same time, I know there’s guys out there, who know women who truly mean a lot to them. And even if they don’t, respect should be given not because they are our mother, or sister, or friend, but because they are human.

How would you feel if someone was to objectify a woman? What if you knew Renate, and respected Renate, and later found out that Kavanaugh and his goons organized a Renate Alumni section in their yearbook? What would you do? As a man, what would you do?

I’m not asking any of us to be perfect, because none of us are. There’s times when I haven’t been able to sleep because I’ve felt so ashamed of myself.

I wasn’t there for her. I should have been there for her.

There’s such thing as “bro talk” (not to be confused with Trump’s “locker room talk,” no normal person brags about sexual conquests). We say things and talk about things and can sometimes cross the line. Objectifying happens. And I think to improve this we need to look at it like this: we really shouldn’t look at women as objects. I think we can most definitely be more mindful, because I know most of us have capable hearts when it comes to this. Listen to the sound bite of Orrin Hatch calling Ford “pleasing” and try not to cringe. It was one of the grossest things I’ve ever listened to.

We all have to prove that we’re not all men like Kavanaugh. We have to take it from a stance where you have to prove to women that you can be trusted. Because I hate to bust all our egos, but they have no reason to trust us if they don’t believe we respect them or their safety. We have somebody appointed to the Supreme Court right now who has the backstory and demeanor of an entitled Yale frat bro, who’s had everything given to him. Maybe he had the same approach to women back in 1982.

We need to prove to the women that we care. I want to be able to be there for my friends when I need to, or any woman for that matter. You guys should too. You can take this column however you want it. You can be better your own way. But be better.

Be kind.

Be understanding.

Be graceful.

Be compassionate.

Be better than Brett.


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