Lauren Sanchez/Hilltop Views
Coming forward about sexual assault is never easy, despite what some people might think. Telling one’s narrative about arguably the most painful thing in one’s life is not something most people would look forward to.
When Christine Blasey Ford gave her opening statement at the Senate Judiciary Hearing on Thursday, she described her alleged assault in detail for those in attendance to make her case. As the the world watched, she went back in time to tell the story that had haunted her for years.
At one point, she mentions Brett Kavanaugh’s friend, Mike Judge. Judge had allegedly been in the room watching Kavanaugh’s assault on Ford in 1982. Ford claims that during the assault Kavanaugh had covered her mouth, making it difficult for her to breathe. She says Judge stepped in, telling him to remove his hand so she could breathe.
Ford recalls hoping Judge would stop Kavanaugh altogether. But Ford escaped, not from Judge’s interference, but because both men were too drunk to keep her in the room.
If Judge had stepped in, the psychological toll from the assault may have been lessened. If he, as a friend of Kavanaugh’s, would have taken some responsibility in the situation, it could have ended.
Instead, not only did he not step in, but has also been lying low while this whole trial has been going on. While he could have stepped forward and helped clear up some of the confusion, he has chosen to remain silent.
What we’re trying to say is men here on this campus, you need to take responsibility for your friends. This isn’t an attempt to accuse your friends of anything, we would hope none of the men on this campus are guilty of anything. But within the scope of St. Edward’s, discussions like these are important.
Friendship is no excuse to defend someone when it comes to things like this. There are some situations where you’d have a legitimate reason to stand by your friend; excusing their actions of sexual assault is not one of them.
The men who go to this school are going to be men in positions of power, whether it be something that may seem low level like a manager or something as important as an elected official. Though ALL men should be taught the importance of accountability, the ones who will undoubtedly have power over women in their professional lives need this lesson the most.
Having a position of power is something that most men inevitably end up taking advantage of. If men in power stopped excusing behaviors like this and started taking responsibility, we would live in a much better world.
When you say “You don’t know him like I do!” “He’s a nice guy!” “I’ve known him for years!” etc. you are giving this person the cover of your friendship; something that sexual assaulters do not deserve. By protecting them, you are telling them that their actions are ok, and are something that should be continued in the future.
This doesn’t just apply to sexual assault, this also applies to domestic abuse, whether it be psychological or physical.
When Amber Heard first accused Johnny Depp of domestically abusing her, what happened? Men all over Hollywood, good friends of Depp, all said the same thing, “He’s a nice guy.” Benicio Del Toro said that despite not knowing all the facts, he knew Depp to be “a nice guy, very caring, very smart.” Paul Bettany tweeted that he had known Depp for years, and that “he’s the sweetest, kindest, gentlest man that I’ve ever known. Just saying.”
These are both actors with great influence, both have careers spanning longer than most of us have been alive and their relationship with an abuser has been his shield.
Instead of going by the survivor’s detailed account, they are choosing to believe a superficial friendship that they never saw behind closed doors. For some reason, these “friends” don’t see what is right in front of them, choosing to turn a blind eye instead.
That shield only stands to harm the women around you. When you make promises to unsuspecting women, telling them your friend is a nice and trustworthy guy when you have full knowledge of what they’ve done to other women, you’re putting women’s lives in danger.
When you excuse their actions, you are telling women that what they have experienced is invalid because you are so caught up in protecting your so-called “friend.”
Of course women are guilty of this as well. When the Harvey Weinstein scandal was just beginning, fashion designer Donna Karan and actress Lindsay Lohan both defended Weinstein.
But who is a man more likely to listen to? If a woman tells a man to take responsibility for his actions, will he actually listen to her? Or is he going to listen to another man?
Why do these rapists have to be good guys in the eyes of their friends? See, deep down, you as a man know what they did is wrong. We all know rape and assault are horrendous, and yet your friends continue to rape and assault people. What about that makes your friends “good guys?”
The most reasonable answer to these questions would be the culture of toxic masculinity that men are so buried in. When men are around other men, they tend to encourage this unhealthy behavior that society teaches them is ok.
The other reason men resort to this kind of behavior is because of the fear that they might be wrong. Instead of just admitting that they made an error in judgement when choosing their friends, they would rather try to excuse the behavior.
We are all aware of the scars rape and assault can leave behind. We can acknowledge that it is wrong and argue about it all we want. But until we, as men and women, start holding men accountable, nothing is going to change. Be brave, think of the women in your life and all over the world who need to be protected. Hopefully that will be enough motivation to speak up the next time you see your friend about to hurt a woman. If not, then you may be a bad as them.