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A letter to Christine Blasey Ford

Christine Blasey Ford testifying before the Senate, Sept. 27, 2018
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Christine Blasey Ford testifying before the Senate, Sept. 27, 2018 Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

To the woman who raised her hand, thank you. Thank you for standing up to a sea of male faces. Thank you for representing the college woman who is too scared to raise their hand in a lecture hall, or the female student who chooses not to raise her point of opposition during a classroom discussion. Thank you for raising your hand and speaking life into words that few have the courage to share. My stomach twisted as I heard you speak, the same way it twisted when my best friend told me she was sexually assaulted the summer after her freshman year.

In October 1991, Anita Hill warned the country when she said, “I resent the idea that people would blame the messenger for the message, rather than looking at the content of the message itself.” This country has branded Ford with a scarlet letter for having the courage to stand up. The bravery to stand up in front of a room of men, in front of a nation of strangers, and share her truth - a truth, that as a female, makes me check that I have locked my apartment door every night, look behind me twice as I leave the library late at night, and lock my car as soon as I get in it.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, who sat on the Senate Judiciary Committee in late September, told her colleagues, "This is not a trial of Dr. Ford, it's a job interview for Judge Kavanaugh.” So why is Ford the one facing the death threats?

I do not write to express my opinion on the confirmation vote of Supreme Court Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh; that is not the focus of this column. I choose to look at the person who sat in his seat before—the professor, doctor, mother, expert witness, wife and woman who is Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.

Growing up in Maryland, Christine Margaret Blasey Ford went to Holton-Arms School, an all-girls preparatory school. Having spent 11 years at an all-girls school, I understand the empowering and unique education provided by all-girls school. The confidence built in young women in a classroom of female counterparts is invaluable, and my all-girls education instilled in me the drive to speak my mind courageously.

But when I came to Duke, this boldness was confronted with an overwhelming sense of doubt and anxiety. Sitting in seminars with male counterparts, I recognized their boldness, their audacity and realized my “courage muscle” would never be as strong. I became disappointed and defeated. So why do I speak now?

Because it is a challenge for women to be their own advocates. I see it now as a senior in the job application process. We as young women are too polite with our words. We label ourselves as “communicators, organizers and assistants,” when in reality, we are “managers, directors and facilitators.” We want to be lawyers, doctors, mothers, and even president. So why do we not claim these titles now?

Dr. Christine Blasey Ford is a doctor. She is a professor. She is mother and wife. But she has another title attached to her name: “sexual assault survivor.” This is the one title no woman ever wants, or deserves, to claim.

I write to Ford to thank her for her vulnerability, for her bravery and for her promise to tell the truth, her truth. It is because of the raising of her hand that so many others raised theirs in protest on Capitol Hill following Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

For you, Dr. Ford, we will continue to raise our hands, whether on Capitol Hill, in a class or in a courtroom.

Isabella Arbelaez is a Trinity senior.


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