The culture that Brett Kavanaugh and his classmates kept alive by their enthusiastic participation in high school and college is exactly what the #MeToo movement is trying to dismantle. Sure, some men's careers are going out the door, too, but the #MeToo movement is much bigger than individual person's lives. It's about setting an example for the future to follow.
Activist demonstrate against US Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh in front of the court in Washington, DC, on September 28, 2018. (AFP/Eric BARADAT)
Which is where Brett Kavanaugh comes in. He categorically denied all allegations, accusations and insinuations against the perfect Catholic school boy image he describes for himself, but the subtle lies and omissions during his hearing, along with an inappropriate display of indignant fury and aggression in his replies to questions, paints a different picture.
The allegations against him represent a participation in a toxic masculine culture that treats women as objects, important only insofar as how they can be used by boys to impress their friends. His belligerent demeanor throughout questioning supports the image of him as someone who would participate in this culture.
Kavanaugh's drinking habits and yearbook references were the sources for many of the questions asked during his hearing. Kavanaugh was dismissive and hostile when answering any question related to drinking. When Sen. Klobuchar asked if he ever drank so much he didn't remember what happened he said, "I don't know. Have you?" Later on he asked Sen. Whitehouse, "...do you like beer, Senator, or not?"
Kavanaugh repeatedly dodged from fully answering senators' questions about drinking, and when he did answer he lied. He denied ever blacking out or exhibiting reckless behavior when drinking. In his opening statement he declared outright: "I did not drink beer to the point of blacking out"
But a recent statement from one of Kavanaugh's former classmates at Yale disputes that. Chad Ludington wrote to the New York Times to correct Kavanaugh's description of his drinking habits. He wrote that he was troubled by the "blatant mischaracterizations" of Kavanaugh's drinking, "by Brett himself." Ludington goes on to say, "Brett was a frequent drinker, and a heavy drinker...On many occasions I heard Brett slur his words and saw him staggering from alcohol consumption."
In his yearbook are multiple references to drinking, partying and sex. Senators questioned him on some of the phrases to get a full understanding of his character during the time period of the accusation. America got a better understanding of his character then and now through his answers. He lied about the meaning of "devil's triangle," calling it a drinking game. A Devil's Triangle is commonly known as a threesome between two men and a woman.
In the case of the phrase, "Renate Alumnius," - whom many, including old classmates, say it insinuates boasting of sexual conquest - Kavanaugh said it was a term of affection for Renate, that it meant she was part of the group as a friend. However, she only just found out about it and said the insinuation is "horrible, hurtful and simply untrue"
The lies about the crude jokes made in the yearbook and his drinking habits paint a picture of a man who engaged in a party culture that placed primal importance on impressing friends through drinking and sexual conquest. Women are treated as objects amongst men, sometimes as the butt of sexual jokes in conversation and sometimes as physical props in performances, all used to flex power and status in male groups.
Dr. Blasey Ford was one such prop used by Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge. No one is disputing his assertion that he didn't have sexual intercourse until many years later. But Ford's fear that it might go there is what makes it a sexual assault. Kavanaugh used her to impress his friend and make him laugh. Ford said her strongest memory of the incident was "the laughter, the uproarious laughter between the two and having fun at my expense...I was underneath one of them, while the two laughed. Two friends having a really good time with one another."
Kavanaugh might not have even intended to rape her, or even molest her, but he denied Ford her humanity in much the same way as rapists and molesters deny their victims'. This culture amongst young men is carried into their adulthoods, just as the terrifying experiences are carried into the survivors' adulthoods. The verbal abuse is brushed off as "locker room talk." The Brock Turners become Brett Kavanaughs who then let more Brock Turners get away with their assaults.
This is what the #MeToo movement is working to end: the cycle of privileged men getting away with rape and assault. The movement wants to change the culture in our country where people defend the perpetrators and shame the victims. #MeToo means it happened to me, too. It means it happened to 1 out of every 6 American women. It means it needs to end, now.
Showing the country our government will not tolerate a culture in which men get away with assault, nor an individual's refusal to accept mistakes he or she made in the past that led to another person's trauma, is a crucial step to creating a safer future for women. To put this man on the Supreme Court would be to show women the government does not think their safety is a priority.