By the Associated Press
As the Senate Judiciary Committee hears testimony from Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh about allegations of sexual assault, AP journalists around the country are talking to Americans about politics, gender, culture and the Supreme Court. Here are some of what they’re hearing:
When Brandi Geoit makes calls and knocks on doors of prospective voters as part of her campaign for a seat on the county commission in Port Richey, Florida, she hears familiar refrains about Kavanaugh.
“How can they do this to this poor man?” she says Republicans ask. And Democrats tell her, “I can’t believe that someone would be OK with a man having allegations of sexual assault sitting on the Supreme Court.”
The 42-year-old plans to watch Thursday’s hearing in between continuing to reach out to prospective voters.
Geoit is a Democrat and isn’t sure there’s anything Kavanaugh can say that would sway her from believing the women who have come forward against him.
“It’s not a Democrat or Republican issue. It’s an issue of how we treat women in the United States,” says Geoit, who adds that she has dealt with unwelcome advances from men on the trail.
Though many see parallels with Clarence Thomas’ confirmation hearings, the Kavanaugh hearing is taking place in a changed cultural landscape, says Jill Abramson, co-author of “Strange Justice: The Selling of Clarence Thomas.”
“What’s different now is that in 1991 much of the country did not even know the concept of sexual harassment,” Abramson said in an interview. “The sexual misconduct of men was not openly discussed except in rare situations.”
That’s obviously changed. #MeToo has claimed many powerful men in almost every industry, beginning with former Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes, movie producer Harvey Weinstein and so many others.
Of Ford, Abramson says: “If the all-male Republican side treats her as a liar and attacks her character, it could discourage other women from coming forward. It could also create a well of anger in the country, as it did in 1991. Anita Hill was asked to tell her story and was disrespected.”