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USA: We Asked Women What the Kavanaugh Vote Means for the Next Generation. 40,000 Responded.

Friday 12 October 2018, by siawi3


We Asked Women What the Kavanaugh Vote Means for the Next Generation. 40,000 Responded.

Women across the political divide tell us what they hope the next generation will learn from Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh’s confirmation battle.

By Kelly Virella

Oct. 9, 2018

After the Senate’s confirmation of Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court on Saturday, we asked women across the country to tell us how they were reacting.

We heard from 40,000 people.

Many of the women — lawyers, teachers, home-schoolers, military spouses — expressed anger and bitterness over the nomination fight and those on the other side of the political divide. They also told us what lessons from this confirmation they will pass down to the next generation.

Here is a selection of their responses, edited and condensed for clarity. Please use the comments to tell us how you viewed this moment.

On Speaking Up

Image: Lisa Baracker is a doctor, mother, wife and former Catholic turned agnostic Jew who lives in California.CreditLuigi Pasquini

We must break the patriarchy now!
We asked readers: If you were to pass down one lesson to your son or daughter from the Kavanaugh nomination and hearings, what would it be?

I will tell her AND my sons to look closely at Dr. Ford and how strong she was under fire. We must emulate her strength in our daily lives. Every. Single. Day. I want my children to know that they never have to wait 30 years to tell me if something bad happens to them, because I will believe them the minute they tell me — and I will fight for justice for them.

I want my children to know that if they ever act the way Kavanaugh did, either in high school or for a job interview, that I will not be on their side. I will discipline them for vile behavior with everything in my power.

— Dr. Lisa Baracker, California

Image: Nicole MacKinnon is a Catholic stay-at-home mother of two young daughters. She lives in Columbus, Ohio.

Watching the childish reactions of liberals — pounding and scratching at the Supreme Court doors, blocking roads, attacking people on the right, chasing politicians or pundits through subways, out of restaurants, etc. — has only firmed my stance on my beliefs.

Her lesson:

If you are ever a victim of sexual harassment or assault, speak up when it happens.

— Nicole MacKinnon, Columbus, Ohio

Image: Maureen Blackwood is a mother of three who says she is concerned about health care. She lives in Richmond, Va.

I’m devastated. MAGA means going back to the ’50s when women and minorities are sidelined and punished and minimized at every turn.

Her lesson:

To my husband and son, I have said that I’m insulted and angry that so many believe that all men commit sexual assault and it’s just a part of growing up. To my daughters I say that the world is not fair. Women are not believed when reporting sexual assault.

— Maureen Blackwood, Richmond, Va.

On Fairness

Image: Margaret Johnson, a business owner, lives in Texas.

I am pleased that basic human rights such as “innocent until proven guilty,” “burden of proof is on the accuser,” the need for “evidence,” etc., have not been removed from our society.

Her lesson:

If I were advising a son, I would tell him to avoid like the plague any woman who identifies with people who will do literally anything for power, because she cannot be trusted to treat you with fairness and honesty.

If I were advising a daughter, I would tell her not to be like them. Don’t play the victim. Don’t lie for attention and money and power. Be fair-minded and honest and decent.

— Margaret Johnson, Texas

Image: Victoria Church lives in Connecticut and works as a lawyer.

Kavanaugh’s hearings were not a criminal trial. There was no requirement that the allegations be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. The hearings were a job interview for one of the most respected positions in the United States.

There is clearly doubt and disagreement about what happened all those years ago. For me, that should have been enough for more senators to vote no.

Her lesson:

Everyone should learn a lot more about the structure of the government, what standards of proof are and when they apply.

— Victoria Church, Connecticut

Image: Meredith Fiori is a psychotherapist who studied at Palo Alto University. She lives in Palo Alto, Calif.

I will be voting Republican now. I don’t want this crap happening in this country ever again.

Her lesson:

Due process has protected all Americans for decades — the days of being publicly lynched for unsubstantiated claims or assaults are over! Thank God.

— Meredith Fiori, Palo Alto, Calif.

Image: Yvette Varela is a single mother of two boys who lives in Arizona.

This isn’t about men versus women. It’s about right and wrong. If women truly want equal rights, stop making everything about gender. What happened to not judging someone by their race, creed, gender, etc.? I’m a Latina and that has never kept me from achieving anything.

Her lesson:

To my sons: Always do what is good, right and be kind. Oh, and start a calendar journal. You never know when that will come in handy.

— Yvette Varela, Arizona

Image: Tanya Couer is a mother of three who lives in Waterford, Mich.

I honestly feel as though the left has used this woman as a political pawn. If any of them truly cared, Juanita Broaddrick [a woman who accused President Bill Clinton of sexual assaulting her in 1978] would have her day in court, too.

Her lesson:

Justice, apparently, only happens for some people based on their political affiliation.

I have begged my son to take necessary precautions in the future as a result of this case. While I wish I were joking, I’ve implored my son to “get it in writing” before entering into any kind of relationship.

— Tanya Coeur, Waterford, Mich.

On Personal Accountability

Image: Sheila Coleman Castells, a nonprofit consultant with a son in college, lives in Eglon, W.Va.

I think if more women were senators and would have been able to vote, it would have been clear that this has happened to so many women, and that Dr. Ford would never have outed herself were this not true.

Her lesson:

I have a 20-year-old junior in college. I have taught him to never conduct yourself in ways that would come back to haunt you because of your despicable behavior. Do not overdrink or smoke. Treat women honorably, be kind and follow the law.

But my son is African-American, and he is even more susceptible to judgments on his behavior and unfair consequences that young white men like Kavanaugh would never have suffered.

If a young black man had been the type of young man that Kavanaugh was, never once could he ever dream of being sworn onto the Supreme Court. Never.

— Sheila Coleman Castells, Eglon, W.Va.

Image: Jamie Ballenger, 69, is a preschool teacher and devout Catholic who raised four sons as a single mother.

It is not so much that I leaned toward her, as I leaned away from him. He seemed to me very much as one who is inclined toward a binge, a binger.

Her lesson:

I have four sons, and they are all grown. I was very outraged (to their embarrassment) whenever I found out they were at parties where drinking and drugs were in abundance.

No one is able to be responsible for their safety or that of others when one is stupid drunk. And you are still responsible for your actions afterward, even if you can’t remember what happened.

— Jamie Ballenger, Charlottesville, Va.

On Telling the Truth

Image: Renee Tate is a special education teacher who lives in Arkansas.

Senator Collins is a woman, and she looked at the facts and voted her conscience and didn’t let her emotions or party dictate her vote. THAT is the kind of PERSON we need in Congress. I don’t care what their gender is.

Women who make up false allegations against good men will ruin the credibility of women who actually are assaulted.

Her lesson:

Tell the truth. Always. And don’t party until you’re an adult.

— Renee Tate, Arkansas

Image: Julia Specht is a writer who lives in Brooklyn, N.Y.

I do think that it’s vitally important to have more women in public office, because our government should be representative of the people in this country. That means fewer 50+-year-old white men and more young people, people of color and women. We deserve a government that looks like we do.

But I don’t think that women are inherently less likely to make selfish choices, so I don’t know that more Republican female senators would have made any difference at all.

Her lesson:

Just because people don’t believe Dr. Ford doesn’t mean she’s wrong. She was incredibly brave, and history will ultimately see her as a hero.

— Julia Specht, Brooklyn, N.Y.


Image: Monique Dorsey is a high school social studies teacher and a libertarian who lives in Connecticut.

I will need to guard and protect the males in my family from false attacks.

Her lesson:

My daughter will learn to have respect for the rule of law and to not falsely accuse someone of deeds. My son will learn to respect women but to also watch his back because it could bite him in the end.

— Monique Dorsey, Connecticut

On Good Citizenship

Image: Melissa Spencer is a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles with three sons.

If Kavanaugh had just admitted he drank too much and that he doesn’t remember, but if he did something, he is sorry, I would feel so differently about the whole thing.

Her lesson:

The first is to vote and that every vote counts. The second is that everyone makes mistakes in their youth, and it is important to be honest about your mistakes and own them. If you wrong someone, apologize — it will help you AND them. If you behave badly, own it and vow never to do it again.

— Melissa Spencer, Los Angeles

Image: Jennifer Turpin is a hospice nurse, a rape survivor and a single mother of two who lives in South Carolina.

Roe v. Wade will not be overturned. It is the law of the land. Too many liberals are thinking with their emotions and not the rational parts of their brains, and this is causing them to act as if they are irrational teenagers.

Trump, Kavanaugh — these men are not going to take away women’s rights. In fact, if people would take a minute to look at the evidence, they would find much to the contrary.
Her lesson:

It’s important to stand your ground and fight for everything on which this country was founded.

— Jennifer Turpin, South Carolina

Image: Sadaf Jaffer is a scholar of South Asian studies who does research at Princeton University. She serves on the Montgomery Township Committee in New Jersey.

I was elected to local office last year. I always tell friends who are passionate about politics that they should consider running themselves. It is extremely important to have more women in office, especially Democratic women. We also need more women to believe they are worthy of running for office.

Her lesson:

Downtrodden people have overcome far worse adversity than we are facing now. Never lose hope and always believe in the power of collective action to make a difference in the world. The human spirit is indomitable.

— Sadaf Jaffer, Montgomery Township, N.J.

Image: Lisa Sharon Harper is a faith leader, a writer and an organizer. She lives in Washington, D.C.

A woman doesn’t forget the face of the man who attempts to pull her clothes off.

She also had a previous relationship to him. This wasn’t a stranger. She knew him. She had context for him. She would have known him at the party. With him on top of her, all the context that came before would have been racing through her mind to try to understand how this happened. When she said she was 100 percent certain, I believed her.

Her lesson:

Vote. Our current president is in office because he won about 70,000 more votes in three key swing states. Many of the senators who voted “Yes” on Kavanaugh won their seats in midterm elections. The lesson is this: Vote!

— Lisa Sharon Harper, Washington, D.C.

A version of this article appears in print on Oct. 10, 2018, on Page A13 of the New York edition with the headline: How Did People React to the Kavanaugh Confirmation? 40,000 Told Us.



Women Aren’t a Monolith - And the White Women Supporting Kavanaugh Prove It

Lucia Graves

October 6, 2018
The Guardian

White women are as likely to believe Kavanaugh as they are Christine Blasey Ford, polls have found, continuing a long pattern of voting Republican.

Brett Kavanaugh’s wife Ashley, right, and Kavanaugh supporter Laura Cox Kaplan during the Senate judiciary committee hearing., Photograph: Melina Mara/EPA // The Guardian

It would make sense that the people most likely to believe the testimony of Dr Christine Blasey Ford would be the ones who look like her: middle-aged, white women.

But polls and even a cursory glance at cable news show this not to be the case.

Fox News host Martha MacCallum said that following Ford’s testimony, she kept hearing from moms who “fear due process is dead”. If Brett Kavanaugh is denied a supreme court confirmation over Ford’s sexual assault allegations, these women fear their sons could be subjected to “an unfair precedent” one day.

It’s a view very much condoned in the White House. Donald Trump – in addition to vocally defending Kavanaugh – recently used the moment to push back on his own more than a dozen female accusers, and bemoaned“the trauma for a man” involved in having such claims aired.

Donald Trump Jr, when asked if he was more worried for his sons or daughters, said: “Right now, I’d say my sons.”

In other words, they’re thinking more of men than women, and no small number of white women seem happy to follow suit.

Kellyanne Conway said on CNN that she was once a victim of sexual assault, but that women’s shared outrage over such misconduct shouldn’t affect Brett Kavanaugh’s supreme court nomination.
Photograph: Andrew Harnik/AP // The Guardian

A new ad released Thursday by goes from footage of adorable babies growing into men, to Kavanaugh saying Ford’s claims have him “totally and permanently destroyed”. Viewers are told: “If it can happen to him, it can happen to our sons, our brothers, husbands, fathers. It can happen to you.”

That last line – “It can happen to you” – would seem to apply much more to Ford’s fate than Kavanaugh’s where moms are concerned, since one in three women will experience sexual violence in her lifetime and perpetrators are overwhelmingly male.

So many were shocked earlier this week when a poll found that while minority voters overwhelmingly believe Ford over Kavanaugh, a breakdown of the data by gender revealed white women were nearly as likely to believe Kavanaugh as Ford.

Specifically, the poll found 46% of white women believe Ford and 43% believe Kavanaugh – “Not a large difference at all when you take the margin of error into account,” Tim Malloy, who oversaw Quinnipiac’s national polling, told the Guardian.

“That is not an aberration, it’s the continuation of a long pattern of white women voting Republican,” said Julie Kohler, a senior vice-president for the Democracy Alliance, a network of major progressive political donors, who holds a PhD in family social science and writes about women’s voting patterns for the Nation. A full 69% of Republican women favor confirming Kavanaugh, according to a Morning Consult/Politico poll released earlier this week.

“White women are not by any means a monolithic voting bloc,” Kohler told the Guardian. Rather, they’re profoundly influenced by education, religion and especially marital status.

The women’s movement is, among other things, a study in all the ways women are divided from one another. Early suffragist movements were tainted by racism, and when women finally did get the right to vote, they couldn’t agree on candidates or causes to support.

The Equal Rights Amendment, when it was introduced in the 1920s, devolved into a war between working and middle class women and went nowhere. Reintroduced in the 1970s, it was defeated by a group of deeply-conservative housewives led by Phyllis Schlafly.

Conservative icon Phyllis Schlafly, who died in 2016.
Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images // The Guardian

And while African Americans voters supported Barack Obama with near unanimity, the so-called “women’s vote” never materialized behind Hillary Clinton. Instead, Trump won white women with 53% of the vote.

Stephanie Gutmann, a conservative writer and veteran journalist, told the Guardian on Friday that she was annoyed by liberal insistence that Ford’s treatment would drive women to the polls.

“What is this women thing? Why do you think we’re so monolithic? We’re not so monolithic at all. In the media we’re portrayed as being very single-issue, just voting on reproductive rights. I think there may be a movement of women to the polls, but it’s going to be on both sides,” she said.

After watching coverage of the hearings, Gutmann felt compelled to pen an op-ed for USA Today on why conservative women like her won’t abandon Kavanaugh. Still, she said, she was moved by Ford’s testimony. “She seemed very fragile to me, I was struck by that,” she said. “I believe that something happened to her, but don’t believe necessarily that it involved Kavanaugh, and I don’t think the evidence is strong enough to go forward with any more investigation at this point.”

It isn’t just women she’s worried about, with regard to justice.

“We have husbands and sons and brothers and lovers and they’re part of our lives intertwined,” she said. “I think it’s fair to have the emphasis on sons now because the ball swings back and forth and right now the pendulum has swung way too far in the sort of believe-the-woman-at-any-cost direction.”

The emphasis fits nicely with a recent study of women’s voting patterns, which found that while single women tend to cast votes with the fate of all women in mind, women married to men, and white women in particular, often vote on behalf of their husbands and families, research shows.

Clinton was pilloried for saying on the campaign trail that she came across women “under tremendous pressure from fathers and husbands and boyfriends and male employers not to vote for ‘the girl’”.

But plenty of social science backs her up.

There’s a study from the Institute for Social and Economic Research which found that wives in general vote in ways that support their husband’s economic interests. As well as the research showing that white women are particularly likely to do so – after all, the white men they typically marry still earn more than any other demographic.

Clinton’s comment about white women voting their husband’s interest has (ungenerously) been interpreted as meaning white women can’t think for themselves, but Kohler pushed back on that notion, as Clinton herself did at the time. “I don’t think it’s a matter of women not thinking for themselves. It’s about the way that larger structural inequalities are driven through institutions like marriage,” Kohler said.

While we see much more egalitarian marriages than we did a century ago, she noted, women weren’t able to have their own money or property before; and the concept of marital rape didn’t even exist until the 1970s.

“It’s not to say that every married woman is subjugated in her marriage. Of course that’s not true,” Kohler added. “But it is true that as an institution it has privileged men’s interests historically, and I think we still live with some of that legacy.”

A woman holds a sign during a protest against Brett Kavanaugh outside Trump Tower in New York City on 4 October.
Photograph: Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images // The Guardian

The recent polling around Kavanaugh would seem to lend further credence to insights about how white women vote when married.

White women, according Bureau of Labor Statistics data, are more likely to marry and stay married than women of other races – and marriage influences voting patterns significantly.

Kelsy Kretschmer, who teaches at Oregon State University and co-authored the recent study on single versus married women’s voting patterns, told the Guardian the Kavanaugh polling on white women and conservative talking points are very much in line with her own research. “It’s consistent with the ideas that we put forward in the paper, which is that married white women’s interests change, and they start to think about their husbands interests as their own,” she said.

But Kretschmer said their shifting priorities are more than an economic calculation – the shift is cultural, too. Research, including a study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family, has shown when women get married they have less contact with other women and more intense contact with their husbands and family, and that these ties influence political participation.

What’s more, white women and Latina women, the populations most likely to be conservatively influenced by marriage, according to Kretschmer’s study, are often in traditional marriages with male breadwinners. (By contrast, more than 80% of black moms are the breadwinners, according tofindings from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research and the National Domestic Workers Alliance.)

“I think it’s also consistent with when people are worried about their sons and their husbands being accused of sexual harassment or sexual abuse, that they don’t think of themselves just as a person likely to be victimized by that – they now think of protecting their husband from those kinds of things,” Kretschmer said. “Their interests have just shifted.”

The white men that white women overwhelmingly marry are a solidly conservative voting bloc. And the parties are fiercely polarized on the Kavanaugh issue: recent polling from the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) found that Republican white men are much more likely to support candidates who have been repeatedly accused of harassment than Democrats – and notably, that party trumped gender.

More than two-thirds (68%) of all women, compared to 53% of men, say they would definitely not vote for a candidate accused by multiple people of sexual harassment. But nearly half (48%) of Republican women said they would consider voting for such a candidate. That’s compared to just 14% of Democratic women who would.

And while there were regional differences of opinion across gender they weren’t nearly as determinative as questions of race or party.

“In general it’s one of the lessons learned from the 2016 election season that many, particularly Hillary Clinton supporters who were looking for this great women’s arising to buoy her to victory, really underestimated the power of race and partisanship,” PRRI CEO Robert Jones told the Guardian. “The interests that run along the lines of gender are first refracted by these other kinds of identity markers.”

The Senate judiciary committee hearing on nomination of Brett Kavanaugh.
Photograph: Erin Schaff/Pool/Epa // The Guardian

That’s been the rule, historically speaking. And so while progressive white feminists continue to marvel at how many white women could possibly support support Kavanaugh, the experts Guardian spoke with said, if anything, progressives should be encouraged.

“The frustration of white women voting for Donald Trump by a majority and for Roy Moore in Alabama by a majority – that’s not new and that’s not a recent problem,” said Kretschmer. “I think the interesting thing is they’re actually voting a bit less that way in the current political context.”

Kohler put it in stronger terms. “As a progressive white feminist, I look at these numbers and I feel overall depressed about what’s going on with with women,” she said of an effectual wash between Ford and Kavanaugh, “but I do think we’re starting to see a shift that could be a more permanent alignment.”

And she may have some cause for hope.

Jones told the Guardian his polling indicated that the number of Americans who self-identify as Republicans has shrunk over the past few years, with more people who were previously identifying as Republican now identifying as independent. And Democratic pollster Anna Greenberg with Greenberg Quinlan Rosner recently told NPR that their surveys had shown married women, especially in the last six months, turning against Trump and beginning to lean more Democratic in the congressional races.

In November, Democrats are counting on what would be, historically speaking, unusually strong support from suburban white women – and college educated ones in particular – to help them retake the House of Representatives.

Kohler said she’s been buoyed more recently by a surge in white women voters and white college-educated women voters voting blue in recent races in Alabama and Virginia. And she looked to history to bolster her optimism, recalling when a harsh anti-immigration measure (Prop 187) in 1994 helped drive Latinos out of the California Republican party for a generation, and said something similar could be happening with white women now.

“I’m curious if we’re at this moment when Trump and Kavanaugh … drive them out of the Republican party for a generation to come, and I don’t think that’s implausible,” she said.

Of course women have never behaved as cohesively as racial voting blocs, and Kohler, fittingly, added a caveat.

“We could be at that moment, maybe not with white women as a whole, because white women as a group vote differently, but with certain subgroups.”

Lucia Graves is a columnist and feature writer for Guardian US.