Senate Confirmation Vote Sanctions Hatred of Women point of view

by Karen Laslo

I saw him standing on the corner of 4th and Main streets in downtown Chico on January 20th during this year’s Women’s March for Women’s Rights, Human Rights and Unity. His sign and the sneering smile on his face told me what he thinks of women.

photo by Karen Laslo

Counter-protester at Chico Women’s March 2018

Particularly offensive is the sign’s reference to a speculum, a medical instrument used for examinations that saves women’s lives, but here he was using it and the humiliating “C” word to abuse, denigrate, insult and express his hatred of women. And contrary to the sign’s assertion, women don’t want “extra rights.” We want — no, we demand — that the laws of human rights that already exist be enforced: namely, the right to govern our own bodies and the right to not be sexually harassed, raped and/or physically abused by men.

At the time, I didn’t want other women, especially young women, to see him and his ugly sign because I didn’t want them to feel the anger and humiliation I was feeling. But one young woman did see him and confronted him, and another older woman walked by and spit on him. I, too, was so revolted by him that I felt nauseated and didn’t know what to do, so I simply took his photo and subsequently filed it away. Now for the first time I’ve shared it so that others might see what I and the other women marchers were subjected to that day.

I knew I had witnessed a graphic instance of misogyny, but I wasn’t exactly sure what the word “misogyny” meant so I looked it up in three different dictionaries. They all gave the same definition: “hatred of women.” Such hatred is so prevalent and has been going on for so long that a special word was coined to express it. In contrast, I don’t know of any word that expressly describes a “hatred of men.”

Then, on October 6th, 2018, I witnessed another instance of blatant misogyny on a much larger and even more consequential scale, when the U.S. Senate, dominated by old, Republican, white men, chose to ignore the credible, heartfelt testimony of Christine Blasey Ford in a rush to confirm her accused sexual predator, Brett Kavanaugh, to a lifetime position on the United States Supreme Court.

photo courtesy of Sen. Chuck Grassley’s website, which states, “Senator Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, led the most transparent Supreme Court confirmation process in history for nominee Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh.”

It’s obvious from the perfunctory FBI investigation that the Republican Senate majority didn’t want to get to the truth because it would have interfered with the confirmation of one more Republican right-wing extremist to the U.S. Supreme Court. Watching this, I once again felt a renewed anger and humiliation welling up in me that I felt confronting the kid with the sign, and that’s when I remembered the photo.

Sen. Mitch McConnell’s official portrait. “Judge Brett Kavanaugh is among the very best our country has to offer.”

Which I now publish for the sake of Christine Blasey Ford and for all others who have suffered sexual assault and for those women and men who march on their behalf.

photo by U.S. Senate cameras

Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testifying

Dr. Ford, I want you to know that despite the cruel and crass indifference of Trump and his band of willful duplicates, hundreds of thousands of us women and men heard you and believe you. No matter how many disgustingly offensive misogynous signs find their way onto the streets, or how many presidents and senators blind themselves to the grievous assault of women, there are those of us who care, and who vow that your words won’t be forgotten. We will remember you when we vote on November 6th, 2018.

This essay is reprinted from the blog, “A Picture’s Worth” that can be viewed here. Karen Laslo is a freelance contributor to ChicoSol.

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