Year of Graduation


Level of Access

Restricted Access Thesis

Embargo Period


Department or Program

Government and Legal Studies

First Advisor

Chryl Laird


This thesis conducts a comparative case study of the national response to two highly-salient reports of sexual violence against United States Supreme Court nominees to explore the notion of "progress" against gender-based violence. Christine Blasey Ford’s accusation of sexual assault became public during Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings in 2018 and invoked instant comparisons to Anita Hill’s report of sexual harassment against Clarence Thomas during his confirmation hearings in 1991. Using activist and scholarly knowledge and best practice of gender-based violence prevention and survivor support, I create measures that would indicate progress within three key response categories: hearing procedure, media coverage, and public opinion. I argue that between these two cases, a strange progress is discernible when centering the survivor’s experience. There is observable evidence of positive change within each category surveyed, but when investigated closely, it appears predominantly superficial, unstable, and unsupported by more substantive progress. The determination is ultimately strange because indications of progress often also highlight entrenched resistance to the disruption of the power dynamics that facilitate the prevalence of sexual violence and a growing politicization of the subject.


Available only to users on the Bowdoin campus.