Witnessing #MeToo The Cost of Doubt and the Promise of Collective Testimony in the Kavanaugh Hearing
The #MeToo movement has not only cast a light on the global problem of sexual violence, it has reawakened histories of abuse that demand a new hearing. Yet as soon as calls for accountability were raised, they were swiftly countered with concerns about due process. So much seems to be changing, while so much seems stuck. Leigh Gilmore will offer a perspective on this problem by revisiting Anita Hill's testimony as the relevant touchstone for Christine Blasey Ford's appearance at Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation hearings. Because trauma and testimony are gendered and racialized constructs with lengthy histories, survivors exert agency in contexts that are marked by epistemic and material violence. As trauma is reawakened by the #MeToo movement, so, too, are testimonial strategies for gaining a hearing. These forms of testimony include collective witness in legal courts and the court of public opinion, as well as the affiliation of #MeToo discourse with other social justice movements.
Leigh Gilmore is the author, most recently, of Tainted Witness: Why We Doubt What Women Say About Their Lives, winner of a 2018 Choice Outstanding Academic Title award and recently issued in paperback with a new preface about the #MeToo movement. With Elizabeth Marshall. She is Distinguished Visiting Professor of Women's and Gender Studies at Wellesley College.