We are bearing witness to a harmful culture of male control
The firestorm surrounding Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation forces us to confront how little has changed in the male constituency and control of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which wields such power over not only our present but our future in confirming Supreme Court justices (“Kavanaugh, GOP strike back,” Page A1, Sept. 25). It was especially chilling to witness Republicans close ranks this week as they dismissed accusations of Kavanaugh’s sexual assaults as mere adolescent indiscretions, completely ignoring the psychological reality that sexual violence and humiliation of young women and girls is far from a youthful prank; rather, it can result in lifelong trauma.
It is a sobering coincidence that the 1997 memoir written by Kavanaugh’s prep school classmate Mark Judge, recalling the wild party culture they shared, bears the same main title, “Wasted: Tales of a GenX Drunk,” as that of a searing autobiography written about the same time revealing a young woman’s struggle with an eating disorder (“Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia”). The well-established correlation between eating disorders, depression, and substance abuse with a history of sexual trauma documents just one of the many scars left by such young men’s disregard for the bodies and psyches of their female classmates — disregard that is being normalized in our national discourse as boys just being boys.
The writer is a clinical psychologist and is a visiting scholar at the Women’s Studies Research Center at Brandeis University.
Many women carry frightening memories in their trove of secrets
Sixty-five years ago, my mother’s most salient bit of sexual education was “They don’t buy the cow if the milk is free.” She was a marvelous woman, but she represented the viewpoint, still prevalent, that a woman’s sexuality is a commodity and she is in charge of maintaining its marketplace value. One of the things it taught me was never to tell my mother anything about my sexual life. Another was to assume that any difficulty I encountered was my fault for making the wrong choice (“No boys in the house after school unless I’m home”).
I suspect that many women carry frightening, puzzling, anxiety-provoking sexual experiences in their trove of secrets, never sharing them with anyone. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony on Thursday was compellingly credible to me: Why would she tell anyone the horrific thing she experienced when she may well have blamed herself for being 15, vulnerable, and in the wrong place with the wrong people? I wouldn’t have told a soul.
FBI should get on the case — against those who have threatened Ford
Christine Blasey Ford’s riveting testimony Thursday morning showed me, a man in his 60s, a new American hero. I was in tears, feeling Ford’s pain, as I listened to her. I would lend my voice to what should be an overwhelming appeal to the FBI to investigate and persecute — no, not Ford, but rather the people who have threatened her and her family.
Unseemliness is not limited to GOP senators
Re “GOP uses tactics of Trump on nominee” (Page A1, Sept. 26): Your article reads, “Trump . . . and Republicans have ripped up the rules for a high court confirmation and adopted Trump’s battle-tested, hyper-combative ways for the Kavanaugh fight.”
First of all, I am not a Republican; I am an independent. I did not vote for Donald Trump.
On the first days of the hearings on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination, in early September, Kamala Harris, Richard Blumenthal, and other Democrats behaved disgracefully, childishly, and peevishly. This was followed by embarrassing, inappropriate protests for days. During the questioning of Judge Kavanaugh, it was the Democrats who had a hyper-combative approach to derail the nomination. I was dismayed and embarrassed by the theatrics. I do not recall that the Globe wrote disapprovingly of this process then.
Must we be judged by our adolescent behavior?
I tend to believe Christine Blasey Ford’s account. However, what bothers me is: Should we judge mature adults on the basis of their behavior as immature adolescents? I think not.
Kavanaugh ought to welcome an FBI investigation
It would seem that if Brett Kavanaugh was innocent, he’d want to do everything to clear his name in the most thorough and expedient way possible — for example, call for an FBI investigation. Without that, confirmed or not, his name will always be tainted by the accusations against him.
In addition, there was never any reason to rush this confirmation except for partisan reasons. In light of these accusations, there should be even more reason not to rush this confirmation.
Representative Steve King, Republican of Iowa, recently said that if disproving sexual assault allegations are “the new standard, no man will ever qualify for the Supreme Court again.” I know many men who have not been accused of sexual assault. Surely there is another qualified candidate out there somewhere.
Margaret Neeser Hillman