Today, as Christine Blasey Ford testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee concerning the allegations of sexual assault that she has made against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, a central duplicity hung over the proceeding: It is not necessarily true that most senators do not believe the stories of women like Blasey Ford and Anita Hill. It is that many think these allegations do not matter.
I don’t know a single adult man in his fifties or over who has not heard of or known someone who participated in some form of sexual harassment or worse. A courageous few have spoken out and confronted other men on their bad behavior. Many more remain silent as a condition for inclusion as “one of the guys.” Gang rapes at parties — like the ones that Julie Swetnick has described Kavanaugh as having committed or been privy to — are at the far end of a familiar spectrum packed with other violations. If one in every six women is a victim of assault, then a whole lot of men are complicit. But the senators feign outrage and ignorance of the prevalence of such behavior, especially by men of high socioeconomic and educational status like Kavanaugh.
Any number of unpardonable excuses are likely to dance in the heads of the Republican defenders of Kavanaugh in the Senate in response to Blasey Ford’s testimony: It was long ago. Boys will be boys. Women were drunk and got what they deserved. Additionally, it is likely that many of these Republican defenders view unwanted “groping and grinding” as harmless and in a category altogether different than what is legally defined as rape: non-consensual penetration. In many cases groping and grinding and physical constraint are in fact attempted rape. Whether there is intent to rape or not, other forms of sexual assault can terrorize and traumatize a survivor for her entire life.
There is never an excuse for sexual assault. If a woman is intoxicated, she cannot give consent, period. And violence against women — which includes…