As someone who grew up in an elite, predominately white world and attended elite, mostly white institutions, I knew many Brett Kavanaughs. I also know the privilege that they get. I know the world of drunken parties, I know the world of misogyny and I’ve been firsthand witness to the privileged, white male club. Let me tell you, Kavanaugh’s behavior is the rule and not the exception.
I had the misfortune of watching the Senate hearing, which purported to examine allegations of sexual misconduct on the part of Kavanaugh. For those of you who don’t know, a woman has accused Kavanaugh (Supreme Court Nominee) of attempting to sexually assault her while at a party in High school. Kavanaugh has categorically denied the allegations, while the accuser has said that she is 100% certain that Kavanaugh did commit this attempted sexual assault. She also participated in a lie detector test and has called for an FBI investigation. Kavanaugh has not openly consented to an FBI investigation. Other women have also come forth and accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault. Learn more about the situation here.
Today, both the alleged sexual assault victim and Kavanaugh (alleged sexual assaulter and Supreme Court nominee) were “examined” by the Senate Committee on the Judiciary. The hearing came off more as a partisan debate than an examination*.
During the hearing, some of the Republicans on the committee claimed that the Democrats waited too late to present the information about the alleged sexual assault and that the Democrats are merely trying to delay the Supreme Court nomination for political reasons (Merrick Garland?). Some of the Democrats on the Committee called for an FBI investigation and a halt to the Senate Confirmation hearings. In turn, some of the Republicans claimed that an FBI investigation wouldn’t do anything anyway, because all the FBI does is review evidence and they do not draw conclusions. Thus, an FBI examination is not necessary, in their minds. (Side note: If an FBI investigation isn’t necessary, why was it necessary during the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court nomination process?)
I listened to the alleged sexual assault victim present her story and then I listened to Kavanaugh present his story. What stood out to me about Kavanaugh’s discussion was that he constantly interrupted the committee members, particularly the Democratic members and the women. He evaded and circumvented questions about an FBI investigation and when asked if he’d ever been aggressive while drunk, he responded “the answer to that is basically no. I don’t really know what you mean by that. What are you talking about? No, is the basic answer unless you’re talking about something that I’m not aware of.” Raised eyebrows … The gentlemen doth protest too much me thinks.
And back and forth they went all day.
Overall, an FBI investigation would clear up a lot of this, but of course Kavanaugh is a well-to-do, high-powered white man and men like him have privileges that most people, especially people of color, don’t have. He’s assumed innocent.
Five young black boys who were accused of raping a white female jogger in New York, were not regarded with the privilege of assumed innocence when Donald Trump called for their deaths, even after they were proven innocent of the crime. Immigrants and refugees are not assumed innocent when they flee their countries to come to the United States. No, they are presumed to be rapists and threats to the wellbeing of “fine, upstanding Americans,” like Kavanaugh.
I attended a competitive, predominately white school and I remember being accosted by drunken (white) men and boys and these same men went on to top colleges and are now professionals in the courtroom, the hospital and the political sphere. There was a particularly serious incident that occurred in my school community where a young woman (white), who had been drinking, was placed in sexually suggestive positions and photographed without her consent, by privileged, young, white men. Incidentally the only boy in the situation to speak against the mistreatment and report it to school officials was black.
When you are in a predominately white, male-centric environment, men like Kavanaugh are the rule, not the exception. At many of these elite schools, there is a culture of white masculinity, where men and boys are compelled to behave in ways that subjugate women and reassert their dominance. It is acceptable (and sometimes encouraged) for white men and boys to make racist jokes, harass women and drink to their heart’s content. It’s like a super-frat culture where men like Kavanaugh are made to feel invincible because of their position. It’s where all the political correctness of the world is disregarded and men like Kavanaugh can step back in time to the 1940s and 50s and enjoy the notion of being at the apex of privilege. They can go back to a time before there was such a thing as sexual harassment, so touching women without their consent is okay. They can go back to a time where it’s okay to make racist jokes. They can go back to a time where they can get drunk and belligerent because well, who’s going to stop them?
It’s a culture that elicits predatory behavior from privileged men. The fine, upstanding men that you see at work and school could be the same ones who, when they step into this culture, turn into monsters.
We, who are not at the top of hierarchy, know this to be true. We know the Kavanaughs and we know the privileges they have.
There have been many “fine, upstanding men,” who have preyed on vulnerable women when they could. In fact, some of our founding fathers did far worse than Kavanaugh, but the culture of that time permitted them to get away with it, just as the culture of many elite schools permits men like Kavanaugh to get away with it. (Side note: Many African-Americans carry the blood of fine, upstanding white men who preyed upon vulnerable women.)
So just to be clear, Kavanaugh is not an exception. He’s quite the norm and that’s the saddest thing.
Disclaimer, this is not about ALL white men. It’s only about privileged white men who use their position to victimize others. In addition, men of color also perpetrate. The difference is how privileged men who are white are treated. Their privilege allows them to be assumed innocent.
*For the record, I am neither affiliated with the Democratic party nor the Republican party. If I had a choice, I would rather not have partisan politics and would prefer for citizens to vote for whomever is best for the job, as unbelievable as that sounds. However, in the current political climate, the Democratic party is a lesser evil, to me.