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Entitlement Trumps Dignity

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Entitlement Trumps Dignity

Courtesy of Lauren Tuch

Courtesy of Lauren Tuch

Courtesy of Lauren Tuch

Becky Nava, Contributing Writers

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“No means yes, yes means anal.” This phrase was proudly chanted back in 2011 in front of the Women’s Center at Yale, a school praised for the many leaders and innovators it produces. The chanters were members of the Delta Kapa Epsilon (DKE) fraternity, of which notable alumni include U.S. Presidents George W. Bush, Theodore Roosevelt and Gerald Ford. Along with affluence, the frat is notorious for their misogyny and binge drinking, often practicing both at the same time. Not surprisingly, recent Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, was affiliated with DKE during his time at Yale.

Like his fellow DKE frat boys, Kavanaugh has allegedly had difficulty comprehending consent. Apparently, the idea that only ‘yes means yes’, is too complex for the Yale graduate. As of today, three women have come forward accusing Kavanaugh of sexual assault. Of the three women, only that of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford has been legitimized with a court hearing.

Amidst the heightened media scrutiny, Dr. Ford was composed, dignified, and staunchly aware of her significance within a broader cultural narrative. On a national platform, she inadvertently became the voice of all women and victims of sexual assault.  

During his questioning, Kavanaugh became red-faced and indignant, evading questions with immature retorts and unashamedly spewing blatant lies to conceal his character. His privilege and entitlement on display with every fake tear.

Kavanaugh is not original. Men in positions of power have exploited and abused women throughout history. From the colonization of native women to the violence against sex workers and pervasiveness of sexual assault on college campuses, misogyny is transcultural and transgenerational- the ultimate unifier.

The only difference is its visibility.

Kavanaugh’s entitlement is perpetuated and normalized by our culture. A culture that blames victims’ appearance and actions for their assault, rather than condemn their assailant. A culture that endorses a president who treats women’s bodies like the next frontier- sticking flags in uteruses and grabbing pussies simply because he can. A culture that devalues sexual education, indoctrinates women to hate their bodies, and men to hate the word ‘no’.

In the wake of the #MeToo movement, more men are becoming aware of how commonplace sexual violence and exploitation is for women. Something that women knew all along.

We allow men like Kavanaugh to exist by validating displays of toxic masculinity. The ‘boys will be boys’ mentality fuels a lack of social and individual accountability for offenders. While men are exempt of wrongdoing, there is a propensity to shame female sexuality. We’d rather call women sluts than call men predators.

When Dr. Ford described her assault, she recalled her fear and anxiety in the situation, but more tellingly, she recalled the men’s lighthearted demeanor and laughter. As Kavanaugh held her down, his friend and fellow assailant, looked on, at times encouraging him to continue. Her account reinforces the idea that sexual assault is not about sex at all – it’s about power. It’s a way for men to assert their dominance over women while uplifting their own masculinity and status within our heteronormative society in the process.

Allowing Kavanaugh to sit on the Supreme Court will solidify the already unspoken precedent that women’s voices do not matter. Even when given a platform, after centuries of oppression and erasure, her voice, her experience, an extension of all women’s trauma, is ultimately insignificant.

 

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