So Brett Kavanaugh becomes a United States Supreme Court Justice and that’s too bad, because he lacks the temperament for it, as he himself demonstrated in a belligerent, vindictive, self-pitying defense, and because other revelations – an inability to confront his drunken youth, questionable credit card charges and a good deal of “misremembering” – indicate an injudiciousness that is lethal for a judge.
Christine Blasey Ford -- who accused Kavanaugh of attempting to rape her when she was 15 and he, 17 – was believed but not corroborated. That was a sticking point for Maine Sen. Susan Collins in her 45-minute Perry Mason “innocent until proven guilty” rationale for voting for Kavanaugh.
What was she talking about? He wasn’t on trial. He was at a job interview, in which people have been denied for having buttons missing from their suits. Nobody owes you a job or a legalistic explanation for why you did or didn’t get the position. Somebody likes you. Somebody else doesn’t. Or as Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski said:: “I believe (Kavanaugh) is a good man. It just may be that in my view he is not the right man for the court at this time.”
Will Kavanaugh prevailing cause more or fewer women to speak up about sexual assault? Who knows? It may cause girls and women to rethink their relationships with boys and men. More on that in a minute. President Donald J. Trumpet, meanwhile, began by admirably keeping an open mind on Ford but then predictably reverted to type. She couldn’t remember some things but she remembered that she had only one beer on the night in question, Trump told a rally in Mississippi. He said he wasn’t mocking Ford. But the way he said it – showing off by joking about it in his cutesy manner, much as Ford said Kavanaugh and his buddy Mark Judge laughed at her on the night in question – demonstrates that he was ridiculing her. How sad.
But not surprising. Nor was it surprising that Trump felt great compassion – for himself and the young white males who are his avatars, what with hussies like Ford running around indiscriminately accusing good old frat boys like Kav of being nogoodniks. (Of course, Trump sees himself in this, telling his audience that four or six women have accused him falsely of sexual harassment. More like 22. And you know what they say: One is an incidence, two a coincidence and three or more, a pattern.)
Given that the FBI says that only 22 percent of rapes are reported, how are male lives being shattered? Yes, there are false reports – see the Tawana Brawley and Duke University lacrosse cases – but the far larger message is that rape is an underreported crime for the obvious reasons made clear by Christine Blasey Ford’s crucible. And because men hold power, and when you attain power, you have to be all about retaining it.
Rather than make fun of Ford – God forbid anyone did that to him – Trump should consider the reality that women don’t shatter men’s lives; men shatter men’s lives. Old men send younger ones off to die in useless wars. There young men brutalize other young men. One example will suffice. Watch this report on Libya on the “PBS NewsHour,” which includes an interview with a black migrant mutilated in Libya:
“One young man in particular had lost his feet and fingers due to horrendous abuse from traffickers and Libyan authorities. Shortly after we parted ways, he called to tell us Libyan police had pistol-whipped him and taken $200 — money his fellow refugees had pooled to help him out, since he couldn’t work due to his condition. When we asked him why the police targeted him, he said it’s because they knew he was helpless. ‘I’m a black migrant. This is Libya,’ he added.”
Heartbreaking. I can barely write about it. It has haunted me. This is what men do to other men. Women are far from perfect. But they don’t do that. Maybe it’s because they’ve rarely held power and are now hard-wired differently. But their response to life is just not horrific violence.
Men need to wise up to Trump. Guys, he’s just trying to use you. And we women need to get real. No dates, no parties in which we do not have a clear exit strategy that includes someone who knows where we are at all times and someone who can give us a ride home. Above all, we need to say no to alcohol and so-called recreational drugs and watch how our drinks are handled and by whom. (If you must indulge, take the approach of model Kate Upton, who nurses one glass of wine with ice.)
Equally important, women must learn to become more independent emotionally and financially. (The two go hand in hand.) We’ll never be independent unless we have our own money and can walk away from any abusive situation.
But we’ll also never be independent unless we get rid of that ingratiating, don’t-make-waves, good-little-girl persona. We don’t have to be hard-hearted. But we don’t have to play up to men either.
It’s not so much a question of standing up to men as standing apart from them. It won’t stop rape, of course, but it will force men to reconsider their relationship to women and their relationships with women. It may even lead to some long overdue respect.