Brett Kavanaugh, Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins: Broadsheet October 8
Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Black women are organizing voters in the South, a female-led vineyard in Northern California rebuilds, and women react to the confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh. Have a motivated Monday.
• Winner take all? On Friday, hours before the Senate moved to end debate and trigger the final confirmation vote that would appoint Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court, President Donald Trump tweeted about the overwhelmingly female protestors who came to Capitol Hill to make their rejection of the judge known to lawmakers.
The president questioned the authenticity of the protestors, calling them “paid professionals” funded by “Soros and others.” (An allegation, it should be said, that was disproven by reporters on the ground.) The following day, after the judge’s confirmation, he spoke for American women, saying they were "outraged at what happened to Brett Kavanaugh. Outraged.” Presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway appeared on ABC Sunday to concur, adding that “a lot of women, including me,” saw the controversy over his nomination as nothing but “political, political character assassination.”
Certainly there are women out there—many women, including readers of this newsletter—who agree with the president and his counselor. But clearly the pair do not speak for the 55% of women who told pollsters that they were opposed to Kavanaugh’s confirmation, or the 52% who said they believed Dr. Ford’s testimony.
Trying to bridge the gap between the roughly half of American women who opposed Kavanaugh’s appointment to the court and the roughly half who either supported it or didn’t have an opinion is probably impossible. But here’s a question those on both sides of the issue might ask themselves: Do we want to live in a winner-take-all nation, where those who hold the power ignore or attempt to erase such a substantial portion of the electorate?
The senators who voted to confirm Kavanaugh decided to ignore Dr. Ford. Yes, some called her “credible” or said they believed that she was a survivor of sexual assault by someone, but they looked past her assertion that she was “100 percent sure” that that person was Judge Kavanaugh.
The frustration of being dismissed may feel very familiar to the women who protested, or signed petitions, or called their representatives to ask them to vote against the judge. So, while Kellyanne Conway took her moment in the TV spotlight to talk about the women who looked at Kavanaugh and thought about “our husbands, our sons, our cousins, our co-workers, our brothers,” let us not ignore the women who looked at Dr. Ford and saw their wives, daughters, cousins, co-workers, sisters—or themselves.
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• Taylor gets political. Over the past two years, Taylor Swift has fielded criticism for not weighing in on politics. She broke that stretch on Sunday with an Instagram post endorsing Democratic candidates for Senate and the House in Tennessee, where she's registered to vote. Swift specifically denounced Marsha Blackburn, the conservative Tennessee congresswoman now running for the Senate. "As much as I have in the past and would like to continue voting for women in office, I cannot support Marsha Blackburn. Her voting record in Congress appalls and terrifies me," Swift wrote. Among Swift's political values, explicitly stated for the first time: LGBTQ rights, equal pay, opposition to systemic racism, and support for the Violence Against Women Act. Fortune
• Things are gonna get brighter. Girls Who Code, led by Reshma Saujani, has a new campaign. Called "Sisterh>>d," the campaign celebrates girls and women leading up to the International Day of the Girl on Thursday. It kicks off with a moving video remake of the 1970s anthem "Ooh, Child." Girls Who Code
• Behind the 'no' vote. Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski ended up the only Republican senator not to vote in favor of confirming Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, after Maine Sen. Susan Collins voted in line with her party. A crucial factor in Murkowski's decision was the activism of Native women in Alaska, who make up a sizable portion of Murkowski's base and who experience disproportionate rates of sexual assault. Vox
• Network effects. Facebook is facing an internal uproar over VP of global public policy Joel Kaplan, a close friend of Brett Kavanaugh who appeared at Kavanaugh's hearing last week in support of the Supreme Court nominee. Employees are also reportedly upset that Sheryl Sandberg did not publicly support Christine Blasey Ford despite her history with feminism through her brand Lean In. Sandberg is a good friend of Kaplan, and told staff that she thought "it was a mistake" for him to attend the hearing. Kaplan and his wife, Laura Cox Kaplan, threw a celebration for Kavanaugh on Saturday night. New York Times
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• Get out the vote. Black women in the South are using networks forged during segregation to turn out voters in the midterms. Organizers tell the New York Times how they're mobilizing churches, historically black universities, sororities, and beauty parlors this fall. New York Times
• Bond woman? Don't expect a gender-swapped 007 anytime soon. Executive producer Barbara Broccoli says that "Bond is male. He’s a male character. He was written as a male and I think he’ll probably stay as a male." The news might be disappointing to some hopeful Bond fans, but Broccoli insists: "We don’t have to turn male characters into women. Let’s just create more female characters." The Guardian
• Risk factors. Today in news we already knew: sexual harassment and assault are bad for your health. A study in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine found that women between 40 and 60 years old who had experienced sexual assault or harassment were more likely to experience depression, anxiety, and insomnia and had significantly higher blood pressure. CNN
• Fire fighter. A year after the massive Tubbs Fire swept through Northern California, Paradise Ridge Winery co-owner Sonia Byck-Barwick talks about how the region—including her vineyard, which was ravaged—is bouncing back. Fortune
ON MY RADAR
400 years ago, an Italian artist risked everything to publicly accuse her rapist Quartz
A man takes over a feminist fashion brand. What happens next? Vox
From Pyongyang with love: female North Korean defectors match with South Korean men The Guardian