Echoes of Harassment

It should not have come as a surprise this week, and yet it did, when Christine Blasey Ford identified herself publicly as the person making a charge of attempted rape against Brett Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court nominee. Some Republican senators wasted no time in dismissing her account as fiction. This echoed the reaction to Anita Hill’s sworn testimony during Clarence Thomas’s Supreme Court comfirmation proceeding, which was turned against her. And, here in East Hampton Village, it was reminiscent of recent victim-shaming after complaints from female lifeguards about their swimsuits and higher-ups’ hostile responses to their concerns.

What is astonishing is that in this time of #MeToo and better awareness of sexual harassment, the default response when a victim comes forward is to dismiss her. There remains in America a double standard, in which allegations of harassment are taken seriously — unless they are leveled by women against men. This was true in Anita Hill’s time, and is true today. From Washington to East Hampton Village Hall, female accusers continue to be routinely — and wrongly — rejected by those in authority. This must end.