It is a remarkable fact of American life that hordes of men are now defending sexual assault. It’s not immediately clear why. It seems like the very definition of an unforced error. But a substantial group, many of them in politics, has taken to the internet to argue that a 17-year-old football player should get to do as he likes to a 15-year-old girl—say, for example, trap her in a bedroom, violently attempt to remove her clothes, and cover her mouth to muffle her screams—without consequences to his life or reputation. The “locker room” once invoked to normalize Trump’s language (every man talks this way behind closed doors!) has expanded into a locked American bedroom with a woman trapped inside. It’s all in good fun, defenders declare. Horseplay.
Here’s the most surprising part: They’ve launched this peculiar defense despite the fact that the accused party denies it ever happened.
To be clear, there are perfectly feasible defenses of Brett Kavanaugh that others have attempted. One could respond to Christine Blasey Ford’s allegation that he assaulted her at a party while they were teenagers by saying (as some have) that we can’t know the facts or that more evidence is needed. But no: This group has opted instead to defend male impunity for sexual assault and frame a woman’s story of coping with years of trauma as a true crisis … for men. A White House lawyer was quoted saying, “If somebody can be brought down by accusations like this, then you, me, every man certainly should be worried.” Similar things were voiced by Ari Fleischer and Joe Walsh. Per this dark vision of the future, any consequence for committing assault—even being unable to move from one lifetime appointment to another lifetime appointment—is the beginning of the end of a just society. [Continue reading…]