Judge Kavanaugh and the Politics of Rape Culture

Feinstein dropped the ball by waiting so long to come out with this letter. It was a ridiculous piece of grandstanding for shock value that has only served to delegitimize the victim. And it is fair to argue that the timing of the letter is suspect. But what is actually troubling is listening to the rape apologists at work. And yes, they are rape apologists. Why?

Because they keep saying things like, “Oh, this was over thirty years ago in high school.”

They keep saying things like, “Teenagers get drunk and do stupid stuff. Are we going to look into every person’s high school days now?”

They keep saying things like, “Well, she was probably drunk, too and doesn’t remember details. How can you hold him responsible for this?”

They keep saying things like, “He was just a teenager being a teenager.”

ALL of these statements normalize rape by equating the act of rape with other “acceptable” teen acts of rebellion.

But let’s be crystal clear on something. This is not an accusation of smoking pot in the boy’s rook. This isn’t about skipping classes. This isn’t about bringing a switchblade to school. This isn’t about shoplifting from the corner store. It isn’t about vandalizing school property. This is about attempted rape.

Teenagers have low impulse control. So, yes, they tend to do really, REALLY stupid stuff. They mouth off to teachers. Maybe they throw something in anger. Break a window. Steal school equipment as a prank. But low impulse control doesn’t result in attempted rape. Attempted rape is a concerted, prolonged action that requires physical violence against another human being.

Every comment lumping ATTEMPTED RAPE in with NORMAL TEEN REBELLION is an attempt to normalize rape culture.

You can believe Kavanaugh is innocent without normalizing rape. In fact, you can simultaneously believe Kavanaugh is innocent without delegitimatizing what his accuser believes happened. It was thirty years ago. Repressed trauma can alter our memories of events. Until we hear from her about the specifics, it is hard to really get a good idea of what may or may not have happened.

But what we should not be doing is sending the message to young boys that rape is a normal high school activity. What we should not be doing is sending the message to young girls that they should just expect boys to attempt to rape them during their high school years. This is not normal behavior that should be chalked up to “just being teenagers.” And every single Kavanaugh supporter that using this line of reasoning is endangering young women by reinforcing the rape culture we are trying to break.

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