Don’t believe the hype: It’s not a “very scary time for young men in America,” as President Donald Trump said on Tuesday, responding to questions about his embattled Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
Kavanaugh stands publicly accused by three women of sexual misconduct when he was in high school and college. The FBI just concluded its investigation into the allegations.
This week Trump tried to paint the process, which has transfixed the country, as unfair. “In this realm, you are truly guilty until proven innocent,” he said. “This is a very difficult time.”
Indeed, it is a scary time for Trump, his party and their female allies. It’s a terrifying moment for a male-dominated party grounded in the idea that men are superior to women.
Women are growing more powerful by the hour in the U.S. Particularly on the Democratic side, where increasing numbers of women are running for office. Meanwhile, the Me Too movement is still growing. Since Bill Cosby was arrested in 2015, 810 high-profile figures (including some women) have been accused of sexual misconduct, according to a recent tally from Temin and Co., a consulting firm in New York. Nearly 200 of them worked in politics and government.
Women who have been mistreated are finally getting a modicum of respect; their stories are getting heard. And the men who don’t respect women are freaking out. This is textbook: When women gain power, it threatens certain notions of masculine identity that are grounded in the idea of male superiority. And men freak out. The gloves come off.
We see this in the workplace over and over. A good deal of sexual harassment happens to women when they become the boss, researchers have found. The idea is to make women feel as uncomfortable as possible in a male-dominated environment so that they’ll go away.
That’s clearly the dynamic in play now. Trump is trying to make the Kavanaugh nomination a fight between men and women. In his corner are plenty of partisans attacking even the notion that a woman should have the right to get in the way of a man’s ascent to power.
The argument spins out that the accusations against Kavanaugh have been unfair and unjust. He has portrayed himself as a victim in all this ― even as he is poised to take a seat on the highest court in the country.
And his defenders have picked up the baton.
“You’ve got nothing to apologize for,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told Kavanaugh after he testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week. “This is the most unethical sham since I’ve been in politics.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) blithely ignored questions about Kavanaugh when approached by female sexual assault survivors in Washington this week. He later said such protesters “won’t scare us.”
They clearly have.
“This is a very important time in our country. Due Process, Fairness and Common Sense are now on trial!” Trump tweeted Thursday morning.
The thing is, investigating the claims levied against Kavanaugh is actually fair.
Kavanaugh is not on trial. He is gunning for a lifetime appointment that would give him remarkable power over the lives of everyday Americans.
Investigating accusations of sexual assault made against a man in that position should be an obvious part of the democratic process. Looking into such a person’s character is the Senate’s job.
This isn’t about men versus women. It is absolutely about fairness and equality. Whether that’s the rationale that wins in the end is anything but clear.
The Senate is set to vote on his nomination within days.