Daly Trimble, Editor in Chief and Charlotte Scurlock, Managing Editor
It is difficult to know where to begin. We’ve spent the last several weeks assembling this year’s roster of talented writers and artists, almost all of whom are university women. We’ve spent long evenings learning and teaching one another about intersectional feminism and contemplating what we want to create this year. As the days dwindled to our semester publication deadline, we produced the first set of pieces that we hope will make the world a better place.
All the while, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford prepared her own story for the sake of justice. She lifted weights we couldn’t imagine touching, and she spoke with a clarity that gave us chills. We saw in her a quiet strength that left us in awe. Then she was silenced. The media and political institutions that mistreated her now appear content to let her voice fade into obscurity. If a testimony as pure as hers could be thrown away in this country, what’s the good of a testimony at all? Why speak or write in the first place?
We are here because there is no time left for why. As Margaret Atwood put it, “A word after a word is power.” Dr. Ford’s story is powerful, but we’ll need thousands more to change minds and to shape America into a more humane place. We could spend the rest of the semester publishing content on the innumerable issues that have arisen through Kavanaugh’s nomination process. We could talk about what this says about how we view women, how we view sexual assault survivors, how broken the American political system is for allowing this to happen, and it still would not be enough. But we have to try. Our government has failed us, but we will not accept that as inevitable.
To the 50 Senators who confirmed Kavanaugh: you have grossly abused your power. You have allowed partisanship to cloud your judgement. The shiny fantasy of having a majority Republican court for decades to come and finally getting the chance to overturn Roe v. Wade has prevented you from doing your jobs. We hope that someday you can understand the weight of your decision. We hope that someday you see the eighteen year old girl crying in her dorm room, realizing that her voice does not matter to you. She watches you allow a sexual predator enter the highest court in this country, and she realizes that her body will never hold as much weight or power as that of her assaulter. She weighs her options: police, university administrators, interrogations about how much she drank, what she was wearing, shame, and judgement. She chooses to stay silent. We hope that you will someday realize the role you have played in her decision not to report.
To men and allies: Please understand that to many people on this campus, this is not another abstract Trump-administration story. For one in four students on Pitt’s campus (an undercount, due to rampant underreporting), Kavanaugh’s confirmation is a televised reminder of a lived reality. We watch the interrogation of Dr. Ford, and are reminded of the questions Pitt students are asked during their own Title IX investigations. Don’t tell us that they might as well let Kavanaugh go through, or that the next guy would be just as bad. Do not confuse our repulsion over the appointment of a sexual predator with disappointment over the appointment of a Republican. This extends far beyond partisanship. This is the manifestation of our biggest fear: an assaulter gets to regulate and control the bodies of women. If you want to be a good ally, please hold back your opinion for now. Please listen.
To survivors: we see you. We wish we knew how to make everything right, how to console you in a time of disillusionment. We believe you. You are so much more than this experience, and you have every right to space, safety, and dignity. If this week has been been especially triggering, know that there are so many more people who do care than who don’t. RAINN, The Trevor Project, PAAR and Allegheny Re:solve are among many organizations you can call at any time. Please, do what you need to do right now.
To Dr. Blasey-Ford: we are thankful for you. We are so sorry that you were forced to defend the worst experience of your life on national television. We are sorry for the threats, the hatred, and the denial. We are sorry that the train headed where it was heading. This experience, as suffocating as it may feel right now, does not define you. You have value, you have power, and your voice deserves to be heard.
To everyone: persist. Call your representatives, and vote unresponsive leaders out of office on November 6. Protest, organize, and write. Call out inappropriate behavior when you see it. Teach our boyfriends, husbands, fathers, sons, and brothers how to healthfully engage in relationships with women. Commit yourselves to eradicating violence from American culture. Address the problem at its roots.
The Fourth Wave dedicates our year of stories to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Ms. Anita Hill; to every woman who has been thrown on a platform, and to every woman who has been denied one. We are grateful to you in ways that we cannot currently express.
Daly Trimble and Charlotte Scurlock
Editor In-Chief and Rising Editor In-Chief of The Fourth Wave