Just over a week ago, professor and research psychologist Dr Christine Blasey Ford shared her powerful account of the night she alleges Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her.
Dr Ford’s testimony has already had a huge impact, and many say there is no doubting her testimony and others are inspired to come forward with their stories of assault.
So now the US Senate is preparing to determine whether or not Kavanaugh will indeed become a Supreme Court judge based on his own testimony and Dr Ford’s. With this decision pending, Time magazine has honoured Dr Ford with a striking cover.
According to Time, the cover was created by San Francisco-based artist John Mavroudis, who used Dr Ford’s words to recreate the now-iconic picture of her raising her right hand with her eyes closed, swearing to tell the truth. The artist drew each letter by hand, building the image from words in a process that he described as “like putting a jigsaw puzzle together.”
"The memory quotes would be attached to her forehead area, and the quotes about wanting to help I placed on her hand. The hand could be seen as welcoming, but also deflecting," he told Time. "It’s a fascinating process to watch the face take shape, while hoping that you’ve captured the essence."
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When Dr. Christine Blasey Ford walked in to face the Senate Judiciary Committee on Sept. 27, raised her right hand and swore to tell the truth, it was clear that an unassuming psychology professor and mother of two was about to change the course of current events in real time. “I am here today not because I want to be,” Ford said to Senators, who were prepared to assess her allegation that Judge Brett Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her some 36 years ago, a charge he vigorously denies. “I am terrified.” At stake was a potential lifetime appointment to the #SupremeCourt that could change decades of legal rulings and affect the nation’s faith in its judiciary. The hopes and fears of #women and men who have lived with the trauma of sexual violence were riding on the credibility of Ford’s testimony. By the time the hearing ended, Ford had done more than prove herself a credible witness. Women called into C-SPAN to tell their own, decades-old stories of harassment and rape. #WhyIDidntReport exploded on social media, a rallying cry for those who had never gone public about their own sexual assault until then. Ford’s testimony slowed the machinery of political power when it was fully in gear. An NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll released Oct. 3 found that 45% of respondents thought Ford was telling the truth, compared to 33% who believed Kavanaugh. That’s a marked shift from 1991, when Americans sided with Clarence Thomas after Anita Hill accused him of sexual harassment. The facts remain unsettled, and Ford’s testimony may not prevent Kavanaugh’s confirmation. But it was a powerful warning that wealth, status and a record of professional accomplishments were no longer enough to override credible allegations of sexual assault, no matter when they occurred. To young #men, it was a message that drunken violence could shadow them. To victims, Ford’s testimony was an invitation to speak up, no matter how powerful the accused, no matter how long ago the attack. People will listen, the country seemed to reassure them. We will believe you. Read this week’s cover story on TIME.com. Illustration by John Mavroudis (@zenpop) for TIME; animation by @brobeldesign
According to the Guardian, the final vote on Kavanaugh’s appointment is delayed until October 6 due to an FBI investigation into the matter. But regardless of the outcomes, Dr Ford’s testimony is powerful and has caught the attention of the world. She is seen as a hero to all sexual assault survivors and those who are willing to come forward.
In the accompanying cover story, Haley Sweetland Edwards writes that Ford's testimony "was a powerful warning that wealth, status and a record of professional accomplishments were no longer enough to override credible allegations of sexual assault, no matter when they occurred."
But South Africans might be looking at this thinking why should we be bothered with a sexual assault accusation happening across the world concerning a man going into a justice system that is not ours? Well, simply because this case is a perfect example of how many men are protected by their friends and governments and never expect to have to pay the consequences for their past actions, and also of how differently men and women are treated especially when talking about sexual assault.
Christine Blasey Ford had to face a panel of men and recount the night she was allegedly assaulted. She had to relive her trauma and keep calm and composed in front of a panel of people who historically have not had women’s best interests at heart. She explained herself clearly and with the knowledge of science.
Brett Kavanaugh on the other hand was visibly upset and got very emotional during the hearing. If Dr Ford had done the same, many feel she would have been discredited.
This case is important as it shows victims and survivors of sexual harassment that it is important to speak out no matter the profile of your attacker and that sometimes you must do what is right even if it is not easy.
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