The Brett Kavanaugh confirmation imbroglio shined a bright light on a terrible misconception: that the #MeToo movement is somehow about destroying the careers of powerful men.
Again and again, Kavanaugh and his defenders complained that the allegations were “ruining his life” or “his good name.” (Never mind whether he deserves it.)
This sort of entitlement completely erases survivors of assault. #MeToo is about those women, previously silent, speaking out so that America’s shameful tolerance of sexual assault ends.
Even worse, some Republicans appear willing to accept Kavanaugh even if the allegations brought by Christine Blasey Ford and others are true. To them, it’s unfair that something Kavanaugh did as a 17 year-old boy should impact his career 36 years later.
This is nothing less than open tolerance of sexual assault. To me, that’s unacceptable.
I suspect millions of men share my view. And we need to speak up — especially those of us who got a glimpse inside the world Brett Kavanaugh grew up in.
I grew up only a few miles from Kavanaugh. Although he was after my time, I knew lots of young men like him. As a college student, on more than one occasion I heard guys boast about their exploits forcing themselves on women, or recounting how multiple guys had taken advantage of a woman too drunk or too drugged to resist.
They didn’t see it as a crime they got away with. They saw it as a badge of honor. And they laughed, as Blasey Ford chillingly recalled of Brett Kavanaugh and his friend.
I’m ashamed to say I never confronted them. Deep down, I lacked the courage to do so. I knew it was wrong, but I didn’t let myself consciously recognize the violence associated with it.
That has to change.
Millions of men have heard, and continue to hear — in dorm rooms, frat houses, and bars — the drunken boasting of men who forced themselves on unwilling women. The men who’ve heard these tales must speak up, even if it’s years after the fact, even if they can’t, or won’t, identify the assailant.
Millions of women have spoken out about surviving these assaults. They deserve to hear that we believe them, and that we can back them up.
If man after man after man says not only that they’ve heard the tales of men who victimized women, but that those men displayed pride rather than remorse, we can help confront a culture that’s protected predators for too long.
Men who commit sexual assault need to know that other men don’t think it’s cool — and won’t tolerate it any more than women will.
Consider this in the context of the Kavanaugh confirmation allegations.
How different would things be if men who attended Georgetown Prep or Yale at the time Kavanaugh did stepped up and bore witness to the events cited by Blasey Ford in her testimony, or Julie Swetnick in her affidavit? And, if in a position to do so, identified Kavanaugh as an enthusiastic participant?
Those men wouldn’t have even had to be there when the events occurred. The reality is that in the days that followed each drunken event at which women were victimized, the event was the subject of endless conversations — conversations that involved lots of laughter, but never remorse.
There were decent Georgetown Prep students who heard those conversations. They should speak up, and so should any man who’s heard anything like it elsewhere.
OtherWords commentaries are free to re-publish in print and online — all it takes is a simple attribution to OtherWords.org. To get a roundup of our work each Wednesday, sign up for our free weekly newsletter here.