Brett Kavanaugh might not even realize what he did was wrong and that’s the scariest part of all of this.
Somehow, even after this year we’ve had, we’ve all forgotten something. Is it our keys? Nope, got those. Did we leave the stove on? Nope.
Oh, yeah! It’s that we’re supposed to be moving towards ending rape culture.
But I can’t escape this feeling, even now, that the media attention is a fad, and that soon we will be back to square one. Is gender equality the new fancy track suit? Is it the new pogs?
I hope not. But I’m not holding out much hope, especially because every time we’ve had this, it’s just gone back to business as usual and the very notion of equality is dismissed as a campy “remember when?” bit.
I don’t want that anymore. I don’t want to just hold a sign and talk about how bad things are (even though that discourse is necessary). I want change — real change. And it has to start with how we teach our kids.
When I read Christine Blasey Ford’s description of what Brett Kavanaugh did to her, I felt breathless. That behavior seemed so familiar to me, and felt like a memory rush of so many men I’ve known. Men who just take and ask questions later. Men who think that our bodies are something we owe them, to the point where we aren’t allowed to say yes without being a slut and to say no without being a bitch. It’s the ultimate sense of entitlement someone has when they feel they OWN you.
Brett Kavanaugh insists he would never act this way, that this is something he would never do. And maybe he’s just straight up lying. Maybe he remembers everything and he’s just lying to cover his ass. That’s certainly a possibility, and a much more likely one than that Ford invented this (especially with so much background to offer in the form of therapy notes and a polygraph).
But another likely scenario, and one that chills me to the bone, is the notion that he heard that description and doesn’t believe that’s what he did. It’s possible, and even probable, that Judge Kavanaugh is so steeped in internalized misogyny that he just thought his actions were “normal kids getting drunk and silly,” and that Ford has blown it completely out of proportion.
Imagine, for a moment, the worst thing anyone ever did to you. I’ve got a few fresh examples myself. What if they saw that completely differently? I was in a relationship once in which my boyfriend ridiculed me and decimated my self-esteem over the course of a year. I tried to tell him his words hurt, but he didn’t listen. In my mind, this relationship took years to recover from. In his mind, I’m probably just the dumb bitch that broke up with him.
The fact that a teenage boy might not know that pushing a girl down, covering her mouth, and trying to take off her clothes, isn’t acceptable is frankly terrifying and it needs to change NOW. Boys learn this from somewhere, and it isn’t just from men.
We need consent education and we need it NOW. While I’d like to think that the toxic “boys will be boys” narrative is solely pushed by men, we all do it. Why? Because we’ve all internalized this notion that men are entitled to take.
The GOP talks an awful lot about a return to civility, but the freedom to shove a girl down and take her clothes off without her consent doesn’t sound very civil to me. Maybe what they mean by “civility” is that we shouldn’t tell them when they are wrong. Because that’s so mean and uncivil, amirite? EYE ROLL.
Sex education is mandatory in many public schools, and educating on consent NEEDS to be a part of that. What are parents afraid of? That their boys won’t have the freedom to rape someone without destroying their perfect water polo record? Or that that maybe if they violate someone, THEY WON’T BE ABLE TO USE THE FULL FORCE OF FEDERAL LAW TO VIOLATE WOMEN FOR DECADES?? Hmmmmmm.
It isn’t hard. We need to teach our kids how to be kind human beings. And this shouldn’t stop at consent education. We need anti-racism education and inclusive curriculum that doesn’t erase gay, trans and non-binary folks in our histories. Even writing this article, I’m aware that I so often use just “man” and “woman” because of my own miseducation.
We need to take this to the next level, because our next generations are growing up now. What can we (and what WILL we) do to save these young girls and boys from our destructive society?
Note from the author:
If you feel inclined to read more from me, you can find my “hilarious” cancer survival tale here, my Nancy Drew Review Project on Blogger and my writing in fiction form in Suspense Magazine and The Sleuth. Also, follow me on Medium, Instagram, and also Twitter even though it’s garbage.
Thanks for reading!