Thursday’s Senate Judiciary hearing where the committee heard testimony from Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Judge Brett Kavanaugh has turned a purely American issue — confirming a judge to sit on the Supreme Court — into a worldwide extension of Me Too.
Dr. Blasey recounted the traumatic events at a high school party in 1982 when she alleges she was held down on a bed and nearly strangled by Kavanaugh as he and his friend Mark Judge laughed. During her testimony, Blasey was collected and poised and her story was heartbreaking. After her appearance, women and men from around the world responded with support and shared their own stories of sexual harassment and assault.
When Kavanaugh was permitted to respond in the afternoon, he was angry and defiant in a way Blasey would not have been allowed to be. On Friday, only a surprise encounter in an elevator between a young sexual assault survivor and Republican Senator Jeff Flake delayed Kavanaugh’s confirmation vote, showing how easy it is for white men in positions of power to skirt sexual assault allegations.
Halifax cartoonist Bruce MacKinnon depicted the situation for the Halifax Chronicle-Herald Saturday and his cartoon is getting some huge international traction for its insightful interpretation. In the cartoon, a man with GOP elephant insignias on his cuffs holds Lady Justice down on a bed in the way described by Dr. Blasey. Warning: the image is startling, but clearly makes its point.
— Bruce MacKinnon (@CH_Cartoon) September 29, 2018
The cartoon garnered some quick reaction, mostly positive, for its message. Me Too advocate (and an attendee at the hearing) Alyssa Milano and outspoken comedian Kathy Griffin were among those who tweeted out the picture. Many respondents said the image was difficult to view, but should be seen.
Women won’t forget. And we vote.
Bruce MacKinnon’s editorial cartoon for Sept. 29, 2018. pic.twitter.com/28bpGIl2Zy
— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) September 30, 2018
— Kathy Griffin (@kathygriffin) September 30, 2018
Bruce MacKinnon is an extremely thoughtful, sensitive person who doesn’t take sexual assault lightly. His cartoon is triggering; I struggled to view it. I also find it accurate and I deeply appreciate it. I don’t think everyone needs to see it. I do believe it needs to be seen.
— Ellie MacDonald (@TheBettyDick) October 1, 2018
I don’t wanna r/t because it’s likely triggering to any of my followers who are survivors, but Bruce MacKinnon made the most powerful political cartoon I’ve seen in years today.
If you can stomach Triumph of Ferocity-esque stuff, I highly encourage taking a look at it.
— Emma Handy (@Em_TeeGee) September 29, 2018
I’m not going to attach the image here, because it’s more graphic than I feel comfortable forcing into everyone’s timelines, but the recent political cartoon by Bruce MacKinnon depicting Lady Justice is… intense. Holy shit.
Please vote this November.
— Michael Aranda (@michaelaranda) October 1, 2018
Another political cartoonist from Halifax, Michael de Adder, also drew a strikingly similar piece. His cartoon depicts Kavanaugh and a GOP elephant walking away laughing from Lady Justice lying on a bed. Dr. Blasey said in her testimony that “the uproarious laughter” of Kavanaugh and Mark Judge as she was assaulted is her strongest memory from the night.
de Adder also explained why he, MacKinnon and other artists sometimes have to create cartoons that aren’t at all funny and instead make difficult points.
Political cartoons are not always funny. A political cartoonist does not depict sexual assault casually. The message to the people in power has to outweigh the consequences of drawing something so horrible. These two cartoons are horrible. But so were the events of the past week. pic.twitter.com/7SC9DAPFi0
— Michael de Adder (@deAdder) September 30, 2018
In an interview with CBC’s The National, Bruce MacKinnon explained his own reasoning for drawing the scene.
“You’re actually in the position of the person who is doing the assaulting,” he said of the cartoon’s framing. “I think it forced people to almost feel what she felt. I’ve done my part. I’ve put my opinion out there. How people disseminate it, how people hash it out, is up to them.”