Thoughts About a Cartoon From Bruce Mackinnon Depicting the Assault of Lady Justice and Dr. Ford From Recent Allegations Against Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh
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Society has a way of influencing our perspective on some rather controversial topics. The first thing that comes to mind upon hearing the word masculine is most often the association with aggression and strength. And the first thing that comes to mind upon hearing the word feminine is usually delicacy and weakness. For the majority, these labels often associate themselves under the conformity of gender stereotypes. The correlation of misogyny and gender norms play a pivotal factor into American identity and its history. Furthermore, a recurring theme in American identity is undermining the belief of women, for they are fragile and feminine figures, at the cost of questionable behavior of strong and powerful men. Political or not, the effects of gender stereotypes are apparent when coinciding with the discussion of justice and morals.
In lieu of the widespread media coverage of sexual harassment in hollywood, this subject was a pivotal moment in America. In September of 2018, soon to be elected Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh was accused of sexual assault by psychology professor, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. This court hearing was a test of ethics and morals. Aristotle’s modes of persuasion is extremely prevalent regarding ethos. Bruce Mackinnon, an acclaimed political cartoonist, had published a cartoon depicting the assault of Lady Justice and Dr. Ford from recent allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
The symbol of Lady Justice has to be taken to an account given its significance in the cartoon. Justice is the symbol of the fair and equal administration of the law without corruption — blind justice. As stated before, a common gender role for women is showing signs of delicacy and weakness. In this cartoon, it portrays Ford as a victim of harassment by both her abuser and the men in power. A large portion of the senators attending the hearing were either republican and/or men. The irony of the cartoon is that the symbol of Lady Justice, representing impartiality, is being disregarded throughout the whole process. The senate’s favor of Kavanaugh speaks volumes about who’s in charge and who reaps the benefits of male privilege.
Aristotle’s proof of persuasion regarding pathos is very reliant on illicit imagery. Sexual assault is a very controversial, therefore it is a potentially triggering subject to depict. This image shows Justice blindfolded and pinned down as a man’s hand covers her mouth, which is an explicit reference to how California professor Christine Blasey Ford described an alleged sexual assault by Kavanaugh dating back to 1982. The graphic nature of this cartoon ignites the feeling of of grotesque disturbia. In her testimony, “Kavanaugh groped her and tried to remove her clothing after he pinned her to a bed at a house party when she was 15” (par. 6). This cartoon shows Ford being pinned down by male Senator’s; mirroring the image of Ford being pinned down by Kavanaugh at the scene of the crime, according to Ford. This represents the state at which this country associates women as weak beings. The intended audience is supposed to feel for Ford due to the obvious partisan of Kavanaugh through every trial.
The foundation of this country relies heavily on the ideology of misogyny and conformity regarding gender norms. Since the 20th century, America has started to recognize the rights of women and progressive strides have been made since. However, with cases such as this one, it’s clear to say that America has and always will be rooted from traditional viewpoints regarding gender and the status of women. Once someone like Christina Ford questions the morals of a well respected Kavanaugh, the world will react as it always has.
Logically, it would be the moral thing to believe the story of a victim of trauma and abuse. However, in many cases, combating the gender stereotypes and sexism in America is far more unachievable in the power of men who perpetrate the old age ideology of what a woman’s role should be. Brett Kavanaugh is the prime example of how far male privilege can get someone. In his case, it’s the title of Supreme Court Official, but for many men in America, it’s a wide variety of success. His somewhat innocent persona is at odds with his yearbook entries; “these involve him and many of his former classmates slut-shaming a woman and alluding to his social status for drinking as a teenage boy.” This perpetuates the gender stereotype of the very common “boys will be boys” mantra. True justice is all about diffusing power. However, how can true justice presume under the power of men who get no repercussions for their unethical behavior?
Mentioned before, the kairos of this cartoon and this pressing issue will always remain as an opportune time for action. Combating gender stereotyping and sexism will remain an issue in this country. Regarding political parties, it is necessary to point out that on the cuff of the men’s sleeves remain the symbol of the republican party i.e. an elephant. However, the hierarchy of men in power goes way past which political party they are in. Ultimately, republicans are usually known to be populated with an intense amount of older white men. This factor plays a major role in the type of men who push their traditional views regarding what roles women and men must conform into. Typically, conservatives are far more likely to dwell on the ideology of old fashioned constructs such as gender identity. Women are often expected to serve as being empathetic, submissive, and sweet. So when Ford showed no hesitation to speak up about his “boy’s club” behavior before the peak of his career, it shocked the nation. In this cartoon, she is forcibly silenced by men who are scared of a nonconforming woman. Brett Kavanaugh wants to consolidate power. Conforming to what society deems as masculine is the logical thing for a boy like him to do.
The intended audience of this cartoon is fleshed out to be those who are either fully aware of absolutely oblivious of the lack of blind justice of something so incriminating. The judicial system is known to be quite flawed, especially at the expense of siding with a man who excuses his behaviors due to his masculine and aggressive traits. However, the divide in politics as a whole causes this cartoon to reach a broader variety of audience, and not just one this was intended for. This cartoon was published by Bruce Mackinnon at The Chronicle, a very well known democratic cartoonist on a rather leftist website. This image may not have resonated with everyone, for it shows an obvious bias towards Dr. Ford.