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Men were happy Brett Kavanaugh was angry yesterday—and that’s the problem

Kavanaugh being angry won the day.


Mike Rothschild

Layer 8

Posted on Sep 28, 2018   Updated on May 21, 2021, 5:24 am CDT

As the Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing into the sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh dragged on, it became clear that it was actually two separate hearings.

The first saw accuser Dr. Christine Blasey Ford lay bare her version of events, openly speaking about her fear at having to publicly speak about the attack, and becoming visibly choked up every time every time the alleged attack was mentioned.

The other was Judge Kavanaugh loudly and passionately making his case for why he didn’t and couldn’t have carried out the sexual assault against Dr. Ford.

A major subject of the hearing was Kavanaugh’s time in the wealthy, sexually active, booze-driven culture of 1980s D.C.

It seemed as if the entire culture of white male entitlement, particularly that of the nexus of East Coast private schools and the Ivy League, was on trial. That old school mentality actively clashed with the #MeToo movement that has seen women’s accusations believed and investigated, rather than brushed aside as they normal have been. 

There was anger, yelling, interrupting of women, and a sense of not needing to answer difficult questions. In short, it was the essence of male entitlement.

Judge Kavanaugh’s opening statement was an angry litany of references to parties, beach weeks, sports camps, expensive prep schools, and drinking. His vacillating between shouting conspiracy theories and tearful mentions of his family seemed to baffle hearing watchers and journalists—being described as everything from “unhinged” to “blistering.”

Kavanaugh clearly became agitated about Democrats asking questions related to his drinking. When asked by Minnesota’s Amy Klobuchar if he’d ever blacked out from drinking, Kavanaugh immediately asked Klobuchar if she had—with Klobuchar demanding Kavanaugh answer the question.

He did not and again asked Klobuchar if she’d ever blacked out from drinking, which she declined to answer.

Kavanuagh also asked a somewhat baffled Sheldon Whitehouse if he’d ever played the drinking game quarters while being asked about references from his yearbook. Kavanaugh did seem to realize what he was doing didn’t look good, and later apologized to Klobuchar for the insinuation that she’s a blackout drunk.

The frat boy culture that Kavanaugh was steeped in was also on display with the constant interrupting of women by men. Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley kicked off the entire hearing by steamrolling over ranking member Senator Dianne Feinstein’s opening comments as she criticized Grassley for not introducing Ford.

He interrupted other Democratic senators and didn’t stop there. Grassley continuously interrupted Dr. Ford during emotional moments in her testimony, and interrupted Republican questioner Rachel Mitchell, to the point where he was being mocked for taking time away from the “female assistant” his own party hired.

Kavanaugh also continuously interrupted Democratic committee members, often belligerently refusing to let them finish their questions or statements.

He started off by interrupting Feinstein while she was questioning him, then yelled “no, no, no” as Democrat Patrick Leahy during a line of questions about the infamous high school yearbook, continuously interrupted Hawaii’s Maisie Hirono, and straight up told Senator Klobuchar “I don’t mean to interrupt—well, I guess I do,” then rolling right over her question.

There was also tremendous anger on display, particularly in Kavanaugh’s “blistering” opening statement, where he attacked Senate Democrats for holding onto Dr. Ford’s letter and not acting on it until late in the nomination, and where he also went after the Clintons, the media, and the entire Judiciary committee in general for the delays in the process.  

Which was what his supporters wanted. Many Kavanaugh defenders claimed his anger was appropriate for someone falsely accused of a sexual assault—with no less than President Donald Trump impressed by Kavanaugh’s fiery, defiant tone.

Turn to any conservative, and you’ll see that they loved that Kavanaugh came out swinging.

Also getting in on the anger game was Republican Lindsey Graham, who practically foamed at the mouth as he raged against Senate Democrats, wagging his finger and decrying the process as a “sham” and “disgraceful.”

It too received praise.

Many women recognized in Kavanaugh’s emotional tableau the kind of ferocity they’ve seen that presages sexual assault. But instead of empathizing with women, men online cheered the behavior as apt and justified.

That Kavanaugh would come out fierce and smug, instead of contrite or apologetic, and that he would receive praise for it across conservative circles strikes at the core of the divisions the #MeToo era has brought up. Men are afraid that the behaviors—behaviors that damaged and othered women—they are accustomed to will be taken from them as a result of this societal shift.

They want to continue to stand at the top of society and act as they please without judgment, criticism, or consequences for their actions.

If this is one of their last stands, in Kavanaugh’s fiery speech to the Senate, they found an ally.

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*First Published: Sep 28, 2018, 10:07 am CDT