Melania Trump has just made a statement about the #MeToo movement, saying “I do stand with women. But we need to show the evidence. You cannot just say to somebody, ‘I was sexually assaulted or you did that to me,’ because sometimes the media goes too far and the way they portray some stories, it’s not correct.”
Why it Matters: This statement made by the First Lady is coming fresh off the heels of Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court. The entire confirmation process was met by strong resistance due to a series of sexual assault allegations, which Kavanaugh denied throughout. The Kavanaugh controversy became such a nationwide topic that most major news outlets had dedicated their headlines to uncovering details behind the story. Despite public resistance and protests over Kavanaugh’s confirmation, he was confirmed on October 7, 2018, to the Supreme Court.
Further Background: Brett Kavanaugh was called upon to succeed Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy in July 2018. Kavanaugh’s 12 years of experience working at the US Court of Appeals under Kennedy made him a likely candidate for the Supreme Court.
Critics of Kavanaugh were worried that his appointment to the Supreme Court would diminish the rights of immigrants, minorities, and women. This sentiment was informed by Kavanaugh’s past decisions and policy stances.
It was during Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings in September 2018 that the first sexual assault allegations came to light.
Melania Trump’s statement about “[needing] to show the evidence” echoes President Donald Trump’s statement “it is a very scary time for young men in America when you can be guilty of something that you may not be guilty of” in context to the way in which sexual assault allegations are brought to light. Ultimately, the major argument in defense of Kavanaugh was the lack of proof by his accusers. What's at stake: False accusations can come from anyone.
Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation into the Supreme Court is seen as a failure by some to uphold accountability for sexual assaults he still may have committed. A lack of thorough investigation by the FBI has been cited as a contributing factor to this failure. Others have attributed his race, gender and societal standing as factors that have helped him gain a favorable outcome. What’s at stake: If Kavanaugh had committed sexual assault this would be a symbolic setback for women’s rights considering the progress made in recent years to expose sexual assaults in forums where women's rights have been traditionally repressed.
The nature of sexual assault allegations has been a topic for discussion, including where the burden of proof lies. With Melania’s recent comments, she appears to support Trump’s sentiments that, “it is a very scary time for young men in America when you can be guilty of something that you may not be guilty of.” It's a risky statement coming from the First Lady of the United States given her political position and gender, during a time when women's rights have been a major focus within political and cultural discussions.