Marching On for Survivors Nationwide

The Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday heard testimony from Dr. Christine Blasey Ford about the night she alleges Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh attempted to rape her. Committee Chair Chuck Grassley proceeded with a scheduled vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination this afternoon despite calls for a delay from lawmakers and advocates alike.

Feminists across the country rose up in response.

In advance of the vote, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights delivered over 1.5 million petition signatures opposing Kavanaugh’s nomination to the offices of key members of the committee in partnership with organizations like Planned Parenthood Action Fund, NARAL Pro-Choice America, National Women’s Law Center, National Council of Jewish Women, MomsRising, Women’s March and the National Domestic Workers Alliance.

One hour later, as the committee vote neared, women lawmakers from the House of Representatives linked arms and marched to the Capitol together to take their seats in the audience in a show of solidarity with survivors.

Inside the chamber, women who serve on the committee walked out during the mark-up period in defiance of the broken procedural process which has allowed Kavanaugh’s nomination to advance and failed to allot time or resources for a full investigation into the allegations Blasey Ford and three other women—Deborah Ramirez, Julie Swetnick and an anonymous survivor—have raised in the last two weeks.

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On his way to the committee chambers, Senator Jeff Flake was confronted by two courageous survivors who demanded an explanation for his stated intention to vote for Kavanaugh, despite the heartbreaking testimony of Blasey Ford and the other serious allegations being raised against him.

“I was assaulted, and nobody believed me,” one survivor shouted while Flake attempted to exit a Senate elevator. She urged Flake, who wasn’t responding, to confront the implications of his vote for survivors like her. “You’re telling me that my assault doesn’t matter, that what happened to me doesn’t matter.”

When Flake refused to answer, she didn’t back down. “Don’t look away from me,” she demanded. “Look at me and tell me that it doesn’t matter what happened to me.”

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Immediately outside of the committee chambers, other activists gathered in protest of the vote—facing arrest as they shared their own stories and demonstrated the growing demand for accountability for Kavanaugh and justice for survivors.

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Survivors and allies across the country later followed suit. Clad in all black and carrying signs that read “WE BELIEVE SURVIVORS,” activists gathered on Capitol Hill and in front of local offices at 12 p.m. local time to urge their Senators to reject Kavanaugh’s nomination.

Kavanaugh’s nomination ultimately advanced out of committee—with a promise from Republican leaders in the Senate that a week would be allotted for a full investigation into Blasey Ford’s allegations. President Trump later authorized what he called a “limited” investigation.

Every survivor deserves the opportunity to be heard and seek justice—and feminists have been mobilizing for a trauma-informed investigation into the allegations against Kavanaugh since Blasey Ford courageously came forward.

“Sexual violence survivors and their allies have been at the forefront of the drive for an FBI investigation,” Eleanor Smeal of Feminist Majority asserted in a statement, reminding members of the media that any investigation that takes place should be credited to the organizing by advocates that took shape over the last two weeks, as allegations against Kavanaugh mounted. “Senator Flake’s declaration today is thanks in large part to the persistence of survivors who’ve confronted him directly over the last two weeks, demanding that they be heard and respected.”

“[Blasey Ford] should have been afforded an FBI investigation before testifying in front of the committee,” Smeal added. “But it’s better late than never.”

About

Carmen Rios is a feminist media-maker and movement-builder. She's currently a Consulting Editor at Ms. and the host of Bitch Media's Popaganda podcast, and was previously the Managing Digital Editor at Ms. and the Feminism Editor, Community Director and Social Media Co-Director at Autostraddle. Her work has also been published by outlets like the Atlantic's CityLab, BuzzFeed, ElixHER, Feministing, Girlboss, Mic, MEL and Everyday Feminism; and she is additionally a co-founder of Webby-nominated Argot Magazine. You can find her on Twitter @carmenriosss.