It was in the sermon today. My son and I argued about it. My husband and daughters and I discussed it.
This story is nuanced and powerful in our culture and our conversation for many reasons.
I am amazed at the amount of conversation around #Metoo# and sexual impropriety. I find it powerful and heartening that men, women and children have come forward with their stories of misconduct in settings from college, the Olympic gymnastics, Hollywood, to the catholic church. I experienced several innappropriate encounters as a young woman in the 80’s and almost every woman that I know has experienced the same thing. Some of them I can chuckle about, but a couple are soul scarring. But what I felt about those encounters that were truly awful were two things: shame and helplessness. What I hope is happening is a shift of normative thinking around appropriate language and behaviour.
My son feels differently. ‘Why should I be blamed for things I never did? The guys I know respect women! 1% of men are monsters and we guys get blamed for it. Your opinions are based on anecdotal experiences and not logic. Too many presume Kavanaugh guilty instead of innocent.’ I feel for him (my son). I think there is a lot of backlash from decades of women being objectified, being treated like a piece of flesh rather than a consenting, thinking human being. Backlash for being pressured and pushed into acts we did not want to do. Backlash for being drugged or given excessive alcohol to coerce us into sex. Backlash for comments that should not have been said. Backlash for culture telling us to dress “modestly” or we “invite” unwanted attention. It’s the pendulum effect. And my son is feeling it. As, I suspect, many good men are. Why must they pay for the sins of the men before them?
The same question the German nation asks. The same question we ask in the US regarding slavery. It’s not a new concept.
Yes, we do pay for the sins of our Fathers in some fashion. And, as my husband said, it does not hurt and can bring healing to say we are sorry for the sins of those who came before us. Furthermore, the sexual assaults and violations that are in the news extend to both men, women and children by those who were in a position to manipulate them. They are so brave to tell their stories and come out of the shadows to help us feel their hurt and bring change.
Social pressure is powerful and in this case it is changing how society says we can behave in an acceptable manner to each other even in the shadows, even as teenagers, even when we are rich and powerful.
My husband said he read a survey that a group of conservatives said that they would support Kavanaugh whether or not he did it. That feels very similar to Trump supporters who would support him based on his policy and not his behavior.
There are many layers in the Kavanaugh story of what make us good and bad people.
But, we can use this to figure out what matters to us and where our values lie. Regardless of guilt, or outcome, I am grateful for the conversation.