BY JEMIMA HOUSE
Watching the Brett Kavanaugh hearings, it struck me how many of the people questioning him sounded unsure and anxious.
He was clearly used to being in command and was struggling with the contrast. He also comes across like a bit of a bully. I’m pretty sure they felt that.
He was also flailing around in uncertainty because his status as a privileged, white male and the unquestioned wielding of his own authority no matter what, is under threat. When being questioned about drinking and having no memory, he barely said no before turning it around and asking the woman posing the question if she had done that.
Now, I don’t know the usual setup for this kind of thing (a hearing) but I do know that had a woman done similarly, that move would have ended her chances of being taken seriously.
Whether it was frustrated and heartfelt protestations of innocence, or plain disrespectful and irritated reactivity, who can know. But it was so painful to watch these last breaths of patriarchal righteousness wheeze out of the system that still has its hands clasped around the neck of a woman who has already been traumatised.
Who is the lamb and who is the knife?
I feel sad for Kavanaugh — he’s sacrificial too.
I feel no malice whatsoever to him.
He comes from a time when this kind of shit was no big deal, when probably his truest thought around that incident was that it was a laugh, and if he’d really upset her she would have said or done something — not realising that the power dynamics made it near impossible for that to take place. Or maybe the thought of her just didn’t cross his mind again afterward. The experience of a female being of so little consequence — and he was so used to his privileged male status of doing and getting whatever he wanted with no repercussions.
I can totally see how it would feel unfair to be held accountable for this now — to have your safe, powerful, carefully arranged life brought into disarray, for your unquestionable authority and freedom to be, say, and do whatever you wanted to be questioned.
Yes, it seems like someone changed the rules part way through the game. It must be disconcerting — I genuinely mean that. I think the man is confused that he is being held accountable in this time for something he would likely think was horrible and wrong if it happened to his daughter now — but that was just a usual drunken night in another time gone by.
Why was it acceptable then? Because…conditioning. And no one chooses to be conditioned, it just is.
You don’t need to go very far back from the time of the event to see what sort of attitudes and behaviours were normal for men around women — the 1950’s? Don’t get me started.
Watching this hearing made me feel sick, angry, and sad, so I stopped but I’m happy I saw some of it.
It feels pivotal.
Waking up can feel brutal sometimes.
The world is changing and it’s always sad that injuries are incurred and lives are irrevocably altered in battle.
But that is the price of change.
If nothing changes, nothing changes. Connection is the antithesis of trauma and dysfunctional power trips — why do you think we all crave it so much? When we’re connected deeply, there is no other. We know that pain for one means pain for all.
If we want more harmony and more agency, we would all do well to be relentlessly honest with ourselves and commit to connecting with others from this place. Both men and women. We are all human beings.
Sip a little more: