Do You Smell That?

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scary black cat

I smell something in Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings. Do you know what it is? It’s fear. Kavanaugh, Trump, McConnell, Graham, Grassley: they reek of fear. They’re scared shitless because the structure of white male domination is crumbling before their very eyes, on their watch.  

That’s right, we are witnessing the death throes of the white male power structure. This bunch of he-man woman haters knows that even if Kavanaugh gets confirmed to the Supreme Court, their glory days of smash and bash, grab ‘em by the pussy governance are OVER. And they are freaking the fuck out.  

You can see it in their sloppy, tone deaf reactions to the accusations against Kavanaugh. There’s Kavanaugh himself, with his bumbling boy scout turned choir boy routine and scorched earth denial. Consider this notable exchange with Senator Klobuchar of Minnesota, in which Kavanaugh refuses to answer her, under the circumstances, totally reasonable question whether he ever drank so much that he could not remember what happened, or part of what happened, the night before. Instead of answering directly and honestly, he asks her repeatedly if she ever got blackout drunk.  

I want to take a minute to analyze this moment, because it’s important. Kavanaugh stumbles over his response, seeming to land on a no without ever actually saying no. His wobbly answer indicates that he—as a boy scout turned choir boy—would never get blackout drunk. However, he then goes on to insinuate that getting blackout drunk is normal behavior when he asks Sen. Klobuchar repeatedly if she has ever been blackout drunk. “Have you?” he says belligerently, more than once, suggesting that of course she has, everyone has. Which is it? Either everyone, including Kavanaugh, has been blackout drunk at some point in their lives, so it’s no big deal, or he’s never done that because he was too busy going to church. Pick a side, bro.   

Then there’s Mitch McConnell. At a conservative gathering, after Christine Blasey Ford went public with her accusations, he said, and I quote, “In the very near future, Judge Kavanaugh will be on the United States Supreme Court . . . We’re gonna plow right through it.” Yeah! We’re gonna plow right though! Just like a rapist!  

Please, someone, please get this man an Urban Dictionary.

Trump, not surprisingly, couldn’t keep his Twitter fingers to himself. He intimated that the assault on Ford couldn’t have been that bad or she would have reported it to the police. After a collective facepalm, the rest of the Republican boy’s club responded with their usual gentle chiding—unhelpful, Mr. President, unhelpful.  

Trump is, of course, the embodiment of all this fear. The man is nothing if not a quivering mass of fear. I’m convinced that if pricked with a pin, he would explode, and liquid terror would splatter all over the walls of the oval office. I’m also convinced that fear is orange, and that Trump’s skin color is not the result of a spray tan gone wrong but is in fact fear leaching out of his pores.  

I do feel bad for these guys, though. They’re in a real pickle. It’s like they’re digging around in their trusty white guy tool box but keep pulling out the wrong size wrench. You mean we can’t ask probing questions about her sexual history or insinuate that she’s slutty and probably asked for it? We can’t suggest she’s jilted, just plain dumb, or maybe not hot enough? We can’t snicker?! But those are our go-to moves! That’s literally all we have!  

Because they have no way to deal with Ford, they invite a woman, Arizona Prosecutor Rachel Mitchell, to ask their questions for them because they at least understand that the optics of an all-male panel trying to undermine a women’s experience of sexual assault on a national stage are BAD. So there’s that. But they still manage to undermine the female prosecutor they hired by kicking her to the curb once she outlasts her usefulness. Let’s be clear, she’s not their respected colleague, she’s a borrowed tool from someone else’s box. They also hate every second of it. Did you see Lindsay Graham’s hissy fit after Ford’s questioning? And this one during Kavanaugh’s questioning? I’ve been silent for all of five minutes, and I’ve had enough, so now I’m going to shout, a lot, for a long time, which is the thing that I, a white male, do, and you all are going to listen, because that is what people do when a white male is speaking! Or shouting! This is the natural order of things!

This pathetic scene is the irony of the white male power structure. The same systems that lift these privileged, white men, regardless of merit, talent or intelligence, into positions of power render them wholly incapable of wielding this power effectively by telling them that they don’t have to work hard, respect those who are different, or attempt to see the world from another’s perspective to be successful. In the real world they come off as, well, kinda stupid.  

Thursday was a harrowing day for a lot of women, especially those who’ve experienced sexual harassment or assault, but I am heartened by Christine Blasey Ford’s courage, strength, and brilliance. I am also heartened by the naked fear emanating from the privileged white men trying to jam Brett Kavanaugh into a Supreme Court seat. Their bluster, indignation, and shouting can’t hide how very frightened they are. I smell fear. And that’s a good thing.  

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