(Editor’s note: The following article discusses sexual assault.)
“Roe is settled law” and other lies of expediency.
While campaigning, Trump said he wanted abortion to be decided by individual states. Yes, the serial sexual assaulter wanted to take away women’s freedom, because that is exactly what they do.
During Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings, I pointed out that his history toward women was absolutely relevant how he’d rule on issues such as Roe v Wade, because sexual assault is about power and control. The rapist seeks to control more than anything else. Taking away a woman’s right to an abortion is the ultimate win for rapists.
Upon the report that the Supreme Court of Hacks will vote to overturn Roe v Wade in a draft dated February 10th, which was leaked to Politico, Democrats were quick to remind the public that they never bought the lie uttered by two right-wing Trump SCOTUS nominees at their confirmation hearings: “Roe is settled law.”
Of course that didn’t ring true, because fundamentally, overturning Roe is the issue upon which Republicans have been campaigning for decades. This is seemingly their raison d’être (it’s really to lower taxes for the rich and corporations, as well as deregulating them and giving them welfare, but the abortion issue is one of the biggest ways they get voters to vote against their own interests).
But there are some true believers in the Republican Party, like Amy Coney Barrett, and then there are people like Brett Kavanaugh, whose motives for wanting to take rights and liberty away from women could be very different, given his history. Usually, discussing motives is a sign the writer is heading into ad hominem territory, especially if the motives aren’t tied to action. But in this case, it’s directly tied to Kavanaugh’s actions, it’s relevant and has not been discussed properly. It’s as if our entire nation has been pretending that personal hostility and contempt for certain women would have no bearing upon a justice’s world view and thus their rulings.
This misconception can be filed under: Ways we automatically give white men the benefit of the doubt. A person possibly prone to criminal actions against half the population doesn’t seem fit for the Supreme Court – until we put him at Yale and surround him with the establishment’s glowing endorsement. It’s gotten so warped that Kavanaugh is now seen as the victim of his hearings. Hearings during which he was protected from reality and his alleged victims silenced in order to confirm him at seemingly any cost.
During Kavanaugh’s horrifically abusive confirmation hearing, in which the credible accusation that he pinned Christine Blasey Ford to a bed in a room with his friend watching while groping her, trying to take her clothes off, and covering her mouth while she screamed (all of which he denied), the media seemed most outraged by the protesters, the victims of rape, who were desperately trying to get senators to listen to them.
The media, whose job it is to speak truth to power, somehow viewed these victims as the problem. It was Brett Kavanaugh and these senators who needed to be protected, way too many determined. The media did not ask the pertinent question: Why were these women so alarmed?
The scolding of rape victims reached a crescendo – how dare these women try to keep an elevator door from closing, how dare people interrupt a senator during dinner. The takeaway conclusion by our media was that these women, indeed all of us who expressed concern, were reacting… emotionally. Roe would never be overturned and how could we see that in Kavanaugh’s alleged sexual assault history, they pondered on on high in bright TV studio lights.
Other accusations were stifled, including this from the book The Education of Brett Kavanaugh : “Pogrebin and Kelly research allegations by Deborah Ramirez, a Yale alumna who says that Kavanaugh put his penis in her face during a college party when they were both freshmen. They also raise allegations of a similar incident detailed by a male Yale classmate…”
“Although [Ramirez] was made available to the Senate Judiciary Committee and then her lawyers ultimately gave the FBI a list of more than two dozen potential witnesses who could add credence to her story, ultimately the Judiciary Committee determined that her allegations were not relevant to the process,” Pogrebin said.
It’s not relevant. Kavanaugh’s contempt for women’s privacy and bodies is not relevant, the Republican-led committee determined.
How much control did Republicans use to silence credible sexual assault victims of Kavanaugh’s? A 2019 New York Times report suggested that the accusations of a witness not brought in, Ramirez, were credible:
But while we found Dr. Ford’s allegations credible during a 10-month investigation, Ms. Ramirez’s story could be more fully corroborated. During his Senate testimony, Mr. Kavanaugh said that if the incident Ms. Ramirez described had occurred, it would have been “the talk of campus.” Our reporting suggests that it was.
We also uncovered a previously unreported story about Mr. Kavanaugh in his freshman year that echoes Ms. Ramirez’s allegation. A classmate, Max Stier, saw Mr. Kavanaugh with his pants down at a different drunken dorm party, where friends pushed his penis into the hand of a female student. Mr. Stier, who runs a nonprofit organization in Washington, notified senators and the F.B.I. about this account, but the F.B.I. did not investigate and Mr. Stier has declined to discuss it publicly.
And there were more. The allegations of gang rape were particularly distressing:
Her allegation: In a sworn declaration, she said that in 1981-1983, she observed Kavanaugh drinking excessively at house parties and engaging “in abusive and physically aggressive behavior toward girls.” She claimed Kavanaugh and others would get girls inebriated so they could be “gang raped” in side rooms at house parties by a “train” of numerous boys. “I have a firm recollection of seeing boys lined up outside rooms at many of these parties waiting for their ‘turn’ with a girl inside the room. These boys included Mark Judge and Brett Kavanaugh.” She added that in 1982, she was a victim of a “gang rape” at which Kavanaugh was present. But she did not say he participated in it and provided no details about where the alleged rape took place.
Possible related allegation: Elizabeth Rasor, a former girlfriend of Judge at Catholic University, said that Judge told her about an incident in which he and other boys took turns having sex with a drunk woman. “Rasor said that Judge seemed to regard it as fully consensual,” the New Yorker reported. “She said that Judge did not name others involved in the incident, and she has no knowledge that Kavanaugh participated.” Judge categorically denies her account. Rasor has told the Judiciary Committee that she would be willing to talk to the FBI about the incident.
This idea of a train gang rape is not that unusual. I’ve had the misfortune to speak with men who recount these stories as happy moments of comraderie. It seems most common among frats, football players, and boarding school types, but of course, in a country that so devalues women, too many find the mention of this more outrageous than the actual prevalence of it occurring. So while Kavanaugh denies these allegations and corroborators were not found for Swetnick’s accusations, there’s a ring of truth. Enough to warrant a real investigation.
At any rate, with all of these accusations being ignored, it seemed rather obvious to many women that this was not a man we wanted deciding our privacy and medical rights. That indeed he was not suited to the job, that he came with biases and issues of hostility and control against women.
“Rape is a form of violence in which sex is used as a weapon,” GENESA writes.
Rape is an act of violence, power, and control.
Rape is motivated primarily out of anger and/or a need to feel powerful by controlling, dominating, or humiliating the victim.
Sexual assault is not about sex. It is about power and control and it is about humiliation of the victim. (This is why testifying in court, which in many cases involves further humiliation, is often seen by victims as further abuse.)
Rutgers writes a description of perpetrators that might help those who don’t understand the connection between Kavanaugh’s rulings and the credible accusations against him, “Perpetrators have a strong sense of entitlement and use power and control to commit acts of sexual violence. Most perpetrators adhere to rigid ‘traditional’ gender roles that focus on the inequality of women. This allows them to treat women and the targeted victim with no regard or respect.”
Gee, it’s a wonder why women wouldn’t want to be ruled over by someone who treats *targeted* women with no respect. This is the part of the program where people will cite testimonials about how well Kavanaugh treats x and y women. This misses the point. Men like Kavanaugh, men prone to aggression against women, men who feel entitled and see women’s roles as “traditional” will often treat women who comply very well. The test is the women whom he views as beneath him, women whom he feels need to be controlled.
We know now that the FBI, at the Trump administration’s direction, refused to investigate an unbelievable and damning 4,500 tips against Brett Kavanaugh. But we didn’t know about those tips at the time.
We knew Kavanaugh had his debts mysteriously paid off. We know he has a drinking problem. We knew the FBI didn’t even interview Kavanaugh or Ford at the time. We knew the “investigation” seemed cursory, limited in both scope and time, we knew that Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony was credible to experts, we knew rape victims were exceptionally distressed.
Because Brett Kavanaugh was credibly accused repeatedly of sexual assault There is an element of humiliation, of deliberate group humiliation that runs through the Kavanaugh accusations. The holding his hand over Ford’s mouth while she screamed speaks to someone very controlling.
Pogrebin reported, “…these experiences stay with these women and continue to resonate no matter how buried, no matter whether they told people or not at the time. They don’t go away, and that is clear with this experience that, for her, the humiliation of it was almost as bad as just the sexual experience itself; that just having people laugh at her is really what actually stands out in her mind the most. Which is interesting because it dovetails so much with what Blasey Ford said about remembering the laughter in the room when when she was allegedly attacked.”
To give a person who gets off on humiliation of women the power to take away their privacy and autonomy over their bodies is to enable him to do more harm.
There is no bigger reward for a rapist than total control over his targeted victim. And overturning Roe would give every rapist in America exactly what they seek: TOTAL CONTROL. If a rapist can force a woman to bear his child, he has now determined the course of her entire life, while diminishing her ability to flourish economically.
Ad to this that pregnancy is the most lethal time for women in abusive relationships. Pregnancy means death for far too many women. If abortion is illegal, those women will be forced to submit to their abuser for the rest of their child’s life, if they survive. There is a commonality between an abuser and a sexual assaulter – both seek control. It is not uncommon for abusers to use sexual aggression as a form of control over their target. Experts know all of this, it’s not as if we weren’t aware of these facts when Kavanaugh was confirmed.
Brett Kavanaugh has denied all of these accusations. But again and again, journalists who investigated them found them to be credible. Again and again, the women who had credible stories were silenced and the FBI ignored 4,500 tips about Kavanaugh.
Now, he has voted to overturn Roe in a draft vote. Many of us saw this coming. We warned about it. We were told we were hysterical. But it turns out that the people most emotionally deluded were those defending Brett Kavanaugh and the deceptively rigged confirmation hearing. These are the people whose judgment should be questioned because anyone who wished to even look at the basic facts could see that Kavanaugh wasn’t suited to this role.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.