Time magazine’s new cover features a greyed-out image of then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas testifying in the Senate in 1991 looming over a clear foreground photo of current nominee Brett Kavanaugh testifying this month.
The headline, “What’s changed,” suggests that as history repeats with allegations of sexual misconduct, Kavanaugh’s Senate confirmation process is happening in a world very different than the one faced by Thomas.
Thomas, who eventually was confirmed as a Supreme Court justice, was embroiled in controversy when law professor Anita Hill alleged he repeatedly made sexual and romantic advances despite her rebuffs. Some called Hill a liar and said she fabricated the allegations to keep Thomas off the court.
Kavanaugh has been accused of sexual assault by Christine Blasey Ford, a psychology professor who alleges he pinned her down, groped her and tried to take off her clothes when they were in high school. Since the allegation was made public last week, supporters of Kavanaugh and Blasey have come out in full force to take sides.
The Time cover is tethered to a piece by Molly Ball titled “Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court Confirmation Is Now the Ultimate Test of Political Power in 2018.” It explores what happened to Blasey back in high school and the fallout of coming forward in the era of Me Too.
Me Too, which gained strength last fall in the wake of allegations that toppled Hollywood titan Harvey Weinstein, has since brought down other powerful men who have done horrific things.
Ball references this momentum in her Time article:
“Every week brings new variations on the theme of women, racked with pain and rage, rising up in protest after too many years of trauma and terrified silence. Every week, too, has brought fresh reminders of the extent to which our whole reality is the product of the privilege and prejudices of entitled men. They decided what the story was, who got ahead, what the laws were and to whom they applied.
The men handled the disruptions quickly and quietly, with lawyers and payments and handshakes, with the grip of a policeman’s fist and a gavel pounded on a desk. Until suddenly there were too many to be contained.”
Yet, this momentum is greatly flawed. Women still are sometimes not believed, and allegations against some men in power ― say, the president ― seem to bounce off.
“Into this storm will step two people, a man and a woman, who were once a boy and a girl, who may or may not have collided on a hot suburban night so many years ago,” writes Ball.
“What happens next will answer the central question: Decisions have consequences ― but for whom?”