My Take

9/28/18

My Take on the Blasey-Ford/Kavanaugh testimony:

Riveting is the word most people are using to describe yesterday’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. It is an apt adjective.

Many people were surprised at the poised and quiet testimony of Dr. Blasey-Ford, however I would venture not as many as those who were surprised at the meltdown of the accused. The majority of women are most likely familiar with the kind of testimony Dr. Blasey-Ford gave yesterday. Indeed, they have heard it before – or lived it. They have heard the quiet, tearful admissions of women – and sometimes men – friends and family just like this. They have also heard that laughter. We have all heard that laughter. Think back to your school days, whether or not you were the abused, you can recognize the unabashed laughter of the school bully as he pushes a classmate, the yuck-yuck of the school sports’ stars as the school wallflower walks by.

For me, however, it was the absolute melt-down of the accused (and his supporters) that was most riveting. I was stunned at the spluttering, the rage, the interruptions, the rudeness, the volcanic fury, coming from a federal judge. A man trained in all manner of process and decorum, poised to join the Supreme Court, the type of man who has been preparing his whole life to be rational, balanced, objective, non-partisan!

At first I was confused, but then I began to recognize the behavior. A behavior I was familiar with from my years as a high school teacher. Whenever a teacher insisted on rules, decorum, standards, or deadlines and a promising young man would be held accountable, there would be this same petulant response.  Many of these young men were otherwise charming to adults; and adults smiled and bent the rules as they looked the other way. Adults might have caught glimpses of their cruelty to others in the hallways or on playgrounds, but nothing serious enough to ‘wreck their life’ over.

Occasionally, their offenses –  whether bullying, cheating, sexual harassment –  were brought to light, but whenever held to account, the protests and interruptions and eventually tears – not tears of sorrow, but of rage – would appear. Pushed to the limit, the entitled young man, incredulous that he could not have his way would lose it with a scary aggression mingled with tears. At which point one could predict with regularity another adult (usually male), a coach or principal or parent, would enter the picture with righteous indignation and protestations: “Can’t he do extra credit or have an extension? What about the game on Saturday? It’s just a stupid book report! It’s one point! What about graduation?  It’s her word against his! There’s no proof! What about his future?”

Now this is playing out on a national scale. The hearing yesterday has put this drama center stage and although the petulant man may still have his way, we are closer now than ever before to exposing this behavior and one step nearer to ending its grip. Certainly, there are those, men and women, who defend this entitled, privileged hierarchy, but the vast majority do not. We may have him as a Supreme Court justice for years to come, but after yesterday’s display, many are finally waking up to the injustice of a system that rewards and prioritizes boys and men. And elections are coming.

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