I imagine people will be studying the Kavanaugh Supreme Court confirmation photographs for years to come. Maybe we’re at a cultural tipping point. Perhaps this is just one more body blow. Either way, the photos are brimming with pathos, irony and electricity as they take a searing look at power, gender and privilege. Having already profiled these 17 photos in near real-time on social media, we collect them here, in one place, with the words and impression that struck us then.
It could be argued that the encounter above, practically on its own, changed everything. Fueled by this confrontation–and the intense, immediate attention it drew–Senator Flake voted to send Kavanaugh’s nomination to the full Senate. He only did so, however, with the caveat of an FBI investigation of sexual misconduct. We wrote:
Social media not only proved its agency today, it-and Ana Maria Archila-completely leveled the gender and power differential which has underpinned the Kavanaugh proposition from the beginning. And, they neutralized that elevator.
We posted this minutes after the Ford-Kavanaugh session started as the ranking majority leader interrupted the ranking minority leader. We simply tagged it: #1000words. It certainly hit a chord because, days later, the “mansplaining” scene is still getting widely retweeted.
Thursday’s one day Ford-Kavanaugh session was completely riveting. And that’s saying a lot, given the heightened sense of crisis in the country since the last presidential election. Clearly, the encounter before the Senate Judiciary Committee was a close sister to the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas event 27 years ago.
We merely wrote: What the historic looks like.
We were fascinated how the photo inextricably binds Christine Blasey Ford to Senator Grassley, who has epitomized the GOP’s aggressive and bitter partisan stance throughout the process. Ford will be forever tied to Kavanaugh, but I imagine this will especially stick to Grassley.
We tweeted: “The Victim.”
Much has already been written about Kavanaugh’s hateful, partisan explosion as he opened his half of the session with Dr. Ford. When you look at the photos of him, they alternate between expressions of rage and tears. (Or between spite and pity.) Jim’s photo was one of the few, however, that manage to bring the different expressions together into one.
This image also circulate widely within minutes of Ford’s swearing in. It reminded us of the aspirational image of Lady Justice. Of course, the sense of sight underpins almost every aspect of the controversy.
Our tweet simply read: “Mister, mister.” The fact the entire GOP representation on the committee consisted of eleven men provided all kinds of fuel for the DC photo press.
Martin’s shot was perhaps the only one I saw that doubled as commentary on this overt and political PR move — the Kavanaugh’s interview preceding the Ford testimony. And she accomplished it “in style.” Our tweet:
Today’s 1000 words. Shot of Kavanaughs prepping for Fox News defense goes full noir. B/w and shadows speak to sordidness of this nom since the get go, not just late “me too” free fall. Of course, the makeup boils it down to a home court theatrical exercise.
All the protest scenes from the halls of power to the rest of the country deserve a post in themselves. Here are two that caught our eye. Beyond the gender lens, the activists were also notable for their youth.
From the protests at the Capitol building. Not just for the gender/power contrast, but the look on high.
Some interesting photo editing from today’s Capitol Hill Kavanaugh protest. Of course, the debate does not break along strict gender lines. But the prominence of these men standing together for Ford, especially as the GOP doubles down, stands out.
Remarkably, this tweet has remained relevant throughout Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings. We posted it back on September 17th.
Perhaps the most effective pic to come out of the Kavanaugh hearings. That much scrutiny reveals…a moving target. (And that was before the abuse accusation.)
The novel and the television show has touched a nerve.
With a long record to answer for, after troubling code words, and with Roe—and so many other issues acutely effecting #women—on the line, Sarah’s photo speaks to how much the #Kavanaugh hearings and the #HandmaidsTale address each other.
The hearings were marked from the beginning by protests inside the committee room. The palpable fear from Kavanaugh’s speeches, key decisions, and his political role in the Bush Administration is that a Justice Kavanaugh will undermine social justice issues as well as Roe vs. Wade. Photo after photo showed women using their bodies to protest the nominee–even before Dr. Ford’s allegations came to light. What accentuates most of those photos are the male Capitol Police officers.
Another angle on #women using bodies to obstruct the #KavanaughConfirmation. Fittingly, left to right: We are manhandled. We march.
This photo was taken “pre-Ford,” but we posted it after the allegations broke. The fact women come down on both sides of Kavanaugh–or Trump, for that matter–is he subject of this photo, and the next.
Another Kavanaugh Confirmation photo now speaking more loudly—especially the position of the woman in between. Women For Kavanaugh meet “I am what’s at stake.”
In this photo and the one below, David Butow illustrates how much a freelance approach and a more creative, Instagram-aesthetic can expand the boundaries of editorial photography. And political commentary.
The composition speaks to something implicit in the Kavanaugh hearings: the gender and racial uniformity within the GOP.
This assembly highlights how packaged and contrived these Supreme Court hearing have become. What is stunning and sad is how this nomination unraveled over the basic question of who Brett Kavanaugh really is.
Evincing collage by David Butow. How SCOTUS nomination is act of construction.
It seems like eons, but we posted this about five weeks ago when the candidate was doing his Capitol Hill rounds. Our tweet reflected the heightened contention even before the sexual allegations. Even then, the pressure on Senators Collins and Murkowski over Roe was intense. (By the way, it has been our pleasure to follow and recognize the female photojournalists who have been covering this, and every story. Their numbers and seniority are very much connected to the issues at hand.)
Practically every Kavanaugh picture we saw a few weeks ago speaks to something totally different today—including Kav and Collins on the hot seat, and the simply marvelous gender symmetry (and recognition of women photojournalists) here.
— Michael Shaw