Mr Ka­vanaugh, I am an­gry

Mail & Guardian - - Comment & Analysis -

Dear Mr Ka­vanaugh, you’ve out­done your­self this time. Not only has your be­ing ap­pointed made sur­vivors of as­sault and ha­rass­ment feel in­val­i­dated and in­vis­i­ble — be­cause you have used drunk­en­ness and vague al­i­bis as de­fences for your de­spi­ca­ble ac­tions, and had those de­fences ac­cepted as valid — but you have stolen the voice from those you vic­timised.

You have achieved your po­si­tion of power, yes — but you have also un­in­ten­tion­ally be­come the ugly face of an uglier in­sti­tu­tion. It’s an in­sti­tu­tion run by those used to hav­ing the power; those who sit obese on stolen land with the bones of women, of im­mi­grants, of queer per­sons and peo­ple of colour stuck be­tween their teeth.

Brett Ka­vanaugh, you are a pawn — be­cause, had you not been ap­pointed, well, there are a thou­sand more men ex­actly like you. Pink, squeal­ing mag­nates suck­ling from the teat of Papa Cap­i­tal­ism, watch­ing as news chan­nels air your dirty laun­dry ... and barely break­ing a sweat. Know­ing your money, your church, your con­nec­tions will keep you safe. Un­touch­able. Men like you are plen­ti­ful, and be­lieve your­selves pow­er­ful — yet your abun­dance makes you re­place­able.

Had you not been ap­pointed, Mr Ka­vanaugh, an­other of your col­leagues within the con­ser­va­tive hive mind would have filled your spot, all too ready to step up to the task of con­ceal­ing the in­nu­mer­able cons of a Trump-headed ad­min­is­tra­tion be­hind the pros — the quan­tity of which I could count on one hand.

“Un­em­ploy­ment rates are the low­est they’ve been in decades.” Maybe, be­cause of the United States’s his­tory of in­sti­tu­tion­alised racism, your cen­suses aren’t tak­ing into con­sid­er­a­tion the fact that em­ploy­ment doesn’t al­ways mean happy, healthy liv­ing. That many peo­ple of colour still don’t live in the “good” neigh­bour­hoods, be­cause of their par­ents’ con­tin­ued strug­gle to re­cover from a her­itage of slav­ery and op­pres­sion.

Maybe, be­cause of the US’s in­grained pa­tri­archy, the wage gap doesn’t al­ways seem like such an is­sue when the women be­ing polled are trust-fund ba­bies. Maybe, thanks to the avail­abil­ity of safe and le­gal abor­tions, be­ing able to pre­vent the births of chil­dren a woman can­not or does not want to care for helps keep peo­ple off the streets. Safe and le­gal abor­tions. A right to which all peo­ple ca­pa­ble of car­ry­ing chil­dren should have ac­cess. A right, Mr Ka­vanaugh, that your col­lec­tive threat­ens.

Too many ar­ti­cles have been pub­lished since the an­nounce­ment of your ap­point­ment claim­ing that this is the be­gin­ning of the end of Amer­i­cans hav­ing au­ton­omy over their re­pro­duc­tive health; the more white, cis­gen­der, het­ero­sex­ual con­ser­va­tives are placed in po­si­tions of power, the more over­whelm­ing the force of self-pre­serv­ing, con­ve­nience-based think­ing.

Men, as a gen­eral rule, should not have a say in whether or not peo­ple with wombs have ac­cess to abor­tions or other ser­vices. Take the fact that tam­pons are taxed as “lux­ury goods” whereas con­doms go taxfree — as if sex is a necessity but per­sonal hy­giene is not.

But now, thanks to the in­ge­nious pow­ers that be within the Amer­i­can ju­di­cial sys­tem, not only is there an­other man con­tribut­ing to a dis­cus­sion that does not con­cern him, but one who, ac­cord­ing to Dr Chris­tine Blasey Ford, is prac­tised at re­mov­ing the au­ton­omy of oth­ers.

These ar­chaic men, about as in­ter­sec­tional as a slice of white bread, are re­pul­sive. Brett Ka­vanaugh. Roy Moore. Don­ald J Trump. Abusers, ma­nip­u­la­tors, en­ti­tled op­pres­sors of di­ver­sity. Who treat women as “less than”, as ob­jects, with which any­thing can be done, with­out con­se­quences. When we speak up for our­selves, these sorts of men elect not to lis­ten. They turn off their hear­ing aids and watch our lips move, the static leav­ing an empty space in which they choose our words for us.

“Leave us alone,” we say. “We’re not im­pressed by your money.”

“Grab me by the … Call me pretty, and it’ll all be okay,” they hear.

And peo­ple call women com­ing for­ward with their sto­ries of trauma self­ish. They tell them they should have kept quiet, and that their ac­cu­sa­tions will ruin the per­pe­tra­tor’s life. Ruin their ca­reer.

I am not writ­ing this be­cause I want praise for be­ing “woke”. I am not “woke”. I am just an­gry. I am a woman lucky enough to not be liv­ing in the US, but un­lucky enough to recog­nise that, if ever a global resur­gence of con­ser­va­tive think­ing were to oc­cur, it would start there.

And now? It is start­ing. And it isn’t be­ing started by bored lit­tle boys play­ing at neo-Nazism. It’s be­ing in­sti­gated by some of the most pow­er­ful peo­ple in the world. Peo­ple with her­itages of op­pres­sion, of ad­van­tage-tak­ing, and of oth­er­ing. The Ku Klux Klan has grown faster since Don­ald Trump’s in­au­gu­ra­tion than at any time in re­cent mem­ory. Neo-Nazis feel con­fi­dent to hold pa­rades in the streets. “Con­ser­va­tive” is rapidly be­com­ing syn­ony­mous with “alt-right”.

Brett Ka­vanaugh, ac­cused of sex­ual mis­con­duct and as­sault by three brave, pow­er­ful women. Brett Ka­vanaugh, ap­pointed to a po­si­tion on the Supreme Court, de­spite this. Ap­pointed for life. Con­grat­u­la­tions, sir, on prov­ing your own sheep wrong. Brett Ka­vanaugh is now on the Supreme Court, and will spend the rest of his life sym­pa­this­ing with those he knows to be abusers and frauds. Be­cause he knows how it feels to press one hand to his chest, the other to a Bi­ble, and lie barefaced as the world watches. —

Pawn: Brett Ka­vanaugh has been ap­pointed to the US Supreme Court, but the writer says, even if he wasn’t, an­other clone from the con­ser­va­tive hive mind would have re­placed him. Photo: Jim Bourg/Reuters

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