I understand the pain of not being believed, having my truth denied and my voice silenced. Difficult as it was for me to come forward to my family, I can only imagine how hard it has was for Doctor Christine Blasey Ford to testify in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday.

Even before Ford started her testimony, comments in the Live Stream chat box included such things as, “Lock her up,” “Let the perjury begin,” “She’s a ho,” and “She’s ugly.” It’s hard to comprehend the source of these venomous words. She was assumed to be a liar before she even spoke. Judge Kavanaugh, on the other hand, was simply a good man whose life Ford was trying to ruin.

What happened in the hearings is a prime example of how our society treats women. Ford testified in a gentle, even gracious manner. Despite being cross-examined by experienced prosecutor Rachel Mitchell about every possible detail of her allegations, she calmly answered each question matter-of-factly, to the “best of [her] ability.” Despite this, without allowing any investigation, Republicans denied her credibility.

When Kavanaugh testified, he was irate, loud, and openly talked back to Senators questioning him. He was viewed as defending his honor. Had Doctor Ford reacted that way, she would have been called hysterical and, perhaps, crazy.

When people vilify women who come forward, they treat them as if they have an ulterior motive for doing so. What do they think these women have to gain? Doctor Ford is a highly successful professor who stands to gain nothing from her testimony. Rather, she has a lot to lose. By coming forward, she has had to face a total violation of her privacy, leave her home because of receiving death threats, and cope with humiliating public and toxic online attacks.

What is the message the United States Senate is giving the women and girls of this country? If a Stanford University Professor with no possible motivation to lie is disbelieved and humiliated, how can we expect any woman, particularly women of color, to be willing to come forward?

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