MATENS: #MeToo, But Kavanaugh Must Be Confirmed

“I left the hearing yesterday with as much doubt as certainty,” Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) said in a statement on his support for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh after indicating Thursday night that he was wrestling with whether to believe the judge or Christine Ford, who accused him of sexual assault back in 1982.  “What I do know is that our system of justice affords a presumption of innocence to the accused, absent corroborating evidence.”

Flake is, of course, spot on with his announcement of support for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Flake was then—sadly but not surprisingly—confronted by protesters dismayed by his decision, one of whom (a woman) is quoted by POLITICO as saying, “You have power when so many women are powerless.”

As someone who long ago earned her #MeToo badge, I am here to tell you why that sentiment disturbs me—and should disturb you—and why a responsible citizenry must hope for the swift and commanding confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh as our next Associate Supreme Court Justice.  And I tell you this as a long-time registered independent voter, not some rah-rah Republican cheerleader.  (I like liberty; liberty’s my favorite!)

Do you imagine Sen. Flake feels powerful knowing with excruciating certainty his life and the lives of his family and friends could be destroyed by an unsubstantiated, overwhelmingly politically fueled 40 year-old accusation of sexual misconduct?  Can we assume any man in America is feeling safe right now—let alone powerful?

If that gives you a sense of satisfaction or elicits a cheer from you because you think this is a deserved and overdue dose of medicine, you seriously need to press pause and think deeply about the consequences of going down the rabbit hole Senator Dianne Feinstein and her colleagues have us facing.  Are you so enraged by allegations of sexual misconduct—even the uncorroborated, unsubstantiated, unclear and uncertain even to the accuser type we’re dealing with here—you are willing to sacrifice not just your fellow man’s freedom and presumption of innocence, but your own?

I would be the last person to defend a “Boys will be boys” position.  I’m no Jimmy Kimmel, doing my part to further sexism, misogyny, and the general notion that it’s a man’s world and women are sexual playthings to be exploited at will (and then trying to flip the script and overcorrect so hard in the name of feminism I insanely advocate for the public mutilation of an innocent man?!).  I say even the manliest red-blooded American male has the capacity and the absolute responsibility to control himself and be responsible for his actions; and the same is true of women.  Women are not powerless; neither are they inherently victims.  Please understand that—and make it crystal clear to your daughters!

Sexual assault is a very real issue—one that can have devastating consequences.  When I first heard of the #MeToo movement, I was happy to think men could have their social media feeds flooded with the hashtag—that they would see their mothers, sisters, and wives throw their #MeToos on the pile, and they would open their eyes and realize many women spend their lives fighting assault, harassment . . . anxiety and depression brought on and daily compounded by an overtly sexist society and an egregiously sexualized culture that demeans and degrades the female population.  Because that struggle is real, and it can be debilitating.

But also . . .  Women are far from powerless.  We have to teach our daughters that, and to teach them all they need to know to be ready for the perils that would befall them.  Let’s empower those of the female persuasion to risk being perceived as rude and mean—to be called bitches and let it roll right off their backs—when a situation warrants a lack of congeniality in the interest of protecting oneself.  Christian women—we can and should remind each other that seeing Jesus in everyone and showing the kindness of spirit that warrants does not equate to putting up with offensive, out of line, or potentially threatening language or behavior.  All women—be vigilant in a campaign not to destroy men and political opponents because we can, but rather to stymie would-be assault through a state of awareness and a commitment to establish and honor our own boundaries, actively tuned in to our sixth sense and always giving credence to that little voice inside.

For the love of all that is good and holy, let’s all work together to more effectively spread the message that people need to avoid drinking alcohol to the point of losing discernment, losing inhibitions . . . losing consciousness.  Can we all admit this is a huge factor in so many cases of sexual assault—real or perceived, absolute or ambiguous?

Many high school and college students—and no doubt a lot of adults—have a problem with alcohol, an enormous part of that problem being a loss of control and a subsequent lack of memory.  Teach your sons and daughters not to have sexual relations of any form with possibly inebriated people who appear to be outside the realm of sound mind and unable to legally give consent, obviously.  But you must also teach your children of both sexes to under no circumstances put themselves in a position to be taken advantage of, when keeping themselves safe is within their power and merely requires restraint where drug and alcohol use and abuse are concerned.

And, girls and boys, always use the buddy system.  I’m not kidding.  People are going to drink, and they are sometimes going to drink too much.  Having a designated watchdog friend is every bit as important as having a designated driver.  Friends have to look out for each other and know each other well enough to say, “You know . . .  She is in no condition to slip away with that guy alone right now,” or “Nah, dude, you’re not taking that girl to the back bedroom; the party’s over; time to get an Uber.”

I remember walking to a popular Baton Rouge bar on Highland Road with a group of girlfriends back when we were in college.  A guy stopped us in the parking lot and asked if a friend could take his picture with us . . .  We were so nice looking; he wanted to show his friends back home what Louisiana was like, blah blah blah.  We said sure and smiled pretty for the camera—and at the last second, as the camera shutter snapped, the guy whipped out his penis.  And then he ran.  Trust me, if I could have caught up to him in my heels on that gravel, I would have done my best to teach him taking his penis out uninvited in mixed company was unacceptable and a very poor choice indeed.  But 40 years later, if I recognized the guy as a Supreme Court nominee, would I take the opportunity to try and ruin him?  Negative, Ghost Rider. . . especially if he had put in a pretty solid few decades of estimable actions and respectable accomplishments since I’d seen him last (regardless of which side of the aisle he achieved those endeavors on).

We can and should confront the issues of sexual assault and harassment.  We should make sure boys know not to expose their penises at parties, right?  I think we can all agree on that.  Can we all agree, by that same token, girls should maybe resist flashing their breasts at Mardi Gras parades?  Granted, breasts are not sex organs.  But ladies, we know they are sexually arousing to heterosexual men—and they’re not being flashed at Mardi Gras to feed nearby hungry infants, right?  So stop, or you are perpetuating a double standard—and you may one day find you can’t be a Supreme Court justice because of a moment of indiscretion at a parade a few decades earlier where you caused the guy next to you to inadvertently touch your exposed breast.

Look, we are making progress.  GQ recently posed the question, “Is there a place for Hooters in 2018?,” adding to mounting speculation that, in the MeToo era, there is no room for the breastaurant industry.  So maybe society is evolving toward equality, in ways big and small.  We shall see.

And while MeToo is important, so he is the subsequent HeToo.  We can’t sacrifice the rights of fellow America citizens because they happen to be born male; such is reminiscent of some truly dark and disturbing times in human history.  And ladies, if we are willing to let that happen—you have to know we’re next.  No one is safe in a country where the citizenry willingly gives up its rights (due process, anyone?) as part of a frightening farce falsely offering an increased measure of safety and a perceived notion of payback.

Søren Kierkegaard said, “People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use.”   In desperately hoping America will choose to appreciate and exercise both, my prayer for this nation is that we will stop the Crucible-esque madness of this witch hunt and set ourselves on a more thoughtful path for our future and our children—our sons as well as our daughters.

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