What Is It About Republican Men?
What follows is an insightful piece written by a woman whom I have the pleasure of knowing in a different context. In the middle of the controversy surrounding the Brett Kavanaugh nomination, I hope you find it as instructive as I have. The author’s name is Debby Long, and I hope she will allow me to share other work from her in the future. This is posted with her permission. Please find inspiration in her words:
The entire Kavanaugh nomination begs the question: What is it about Republican men that leads them to control and debase women? What are the psychological problems that compel these dinosaurs to want to hurt women? Do they have mommy problems? Do they have daddy problems? Anyone who watches the progress of this scandal, anyone who has watched a replay of the unspeakably brutal interrogation of Anita Hill, has to see the obvious: This is the worldview of Republican men. And it is most dramatically expressed by Kavanaugh himself as he used his power as a judge to exercise blistering cruelty against a helpless 17-year-old girl in order to prevent her from acquiring an abortion, attempting to deny her a constitutionally mandated right to end her unwanted pregnancy. This is a man who exercises his power to hurt women and, quite obviously, young girls – to strip women and girls of their autonomy, especially when they are vulnerable – and he’s not particularly subtle in his abuse of his power. It’s all there in his own personal history – his willingness to toady up to the loathsome Donald Trump, a man who stands astride the US Constitution as the Colossus of Kakistocracy. A sneering Richie Rich who always got away with brutality because his entitlement made it possible. His pride as a “pussy-grabbing” rich man is affirmation of his male superiority. A shining example of Republican maleness – of male entitlement – of Republican contempt for women.
But what is the narrative that runs as a loop in the minds of Republican men that rings their bell so hard? What belief system makes the kidnapping of children – like this pregnant 17-year-old girl – and placing them in cages with even younger victims of this government-sponsored kidnapping – so righteous to them?
It’s not a coincidence that Republican policy is focused upon denying healthcare to millions of poor people, rolling back environmental regulations that have protected us from disease, branding dark-skinned people as criminals, and inserting fascistic rhetoric into everyday discourse. Of course, Republican men hate women because women represent a challenge to their supremacy – to their politics – to their patriarchy. And this patriarchy goes back a long way. “Shelo Asani Isha” is a Hebrew prayer, translated as “Blessed are you Lord… for not making me a woman”. But we don’t have to go back that far to fathom the depths of this ancient Judeo/Christian contempt for women, this pillar of patriarchy. Contemporary Christianity is replete with misogynistic dogma. The decades-long Republican “pro-life movement” is founded upon the principle that women must carry a man’s child even if she refuses to accept him as her mate. Republicans aren’t “pro-life”; they’re anti-choice. They enthuse at the notion of capital punishment. They get a special tingle when walking around with an assault weapon. They oppose efforts to regulate gun ownership. These guys just love beating their chests like silver-backs.
Women are used to men’s assertion of power over them. I was raped in college by a boy whose father was a federal judge. That day I had told him that I no longer wanted to see him because I felt threatened by his aggressive behavior. His response was to arrive at my apartment that night and proceed to bash down the door until I let him in. My training as a girl led me to weigh the likelihood that calling the police would stop this entitled boy, this son of a federal judge. I came to the same conclusion that most women come to. “They’ll blame me and accuse me of inviting his rage”. And the fact that his father was a federal judge made punishment a certainty. So, I let him in with the hope that I could calm him down and reason with him. He threw me on my bed and raped me. I sat on the floor against the wall of the living room for the rest of the night, humiliated and frightened. Nobody would have believed me. Everyone would have believed him when he claimed that he hadn’t done it. I would have been slut-shamed: “Why did you let him in? Why did you lead him on?”
My rape was not unusual. It did not scar me. Christine Blasey Ford’s attempted rape at 15 is not in the least bit unusual. But Bret Kavanaugh’s habit of abusing teenage girls is also not unusual. His contempt for women is well documented – as recently as October of 2017 – when he attempted to impose his misogyny on that 17-year-old girl who had fled to our country to seek a better life. She had crossed illegally into the United States after making the perilous trek north from Central America. She dreamed of studying nursing and, someday, caring for senior citizens.
So, this monstrous betrayal of American women – over half of our population – is not simply Bret Kavanaugh’s crime; it’s a crime being committed by a crusty, patriarchal Republican Party that refuses to extend civil and human rights to their wives, their daughters, and their mothers. I genuinely hope that the Blue Wave has some teeth in it.