Toobin calls out Kavanaugh's 'weird' interview

CNN Chief Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin criticizes Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's decision to grant an interview to Fox News.

Posted: Sep 26, 2018 5:50 PM
Updated: Sep 26, 2018 6:13 PM

The #MeToo reckoning is still coming — not just for the prominent men who use their power to exploit others, but also for the boys they once were. We are recognizing, finally, that misogynist men are made, not born.

The task, now, is to interrupt the making.

As he seeks confirmation to the US Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh has taken great pains to paint himself as a champion of women and girls, a strategy employed to undercut Democratic assertions that he would overturn Roe v. Wade.

Then came an allegation of sexual assault while Kavanaugh was a student at Georgetown Prep high school, made by Christine Blasey Ford, who attended a neighboring school. Then another allegation that Kavanaugh pushed his penis in the face of a classmate at Yale. He vigorously denies both accusations.

But now there's Kavanaugh's Georgetown Prep yearbook. It is rife with sexist sexual innuendo about "Renate Alumnius" (Renate Schroeder being a girl in Kavanaugh's broader social circle back then) and "FFFFFFFourth of July (a lewd and predatory term).

In a more feminist world, such casual misogynist cruelty would be rare. But anyone who has passed through high school knows that the language employed by Kavanaugh and crew is indeed quite typical of teenage "boys just being boys." And that's exactly the problem: Teenage boyhood continues to accept, sometimes even hinge on, misogyny and ill treatment of girls — usually girls over whom boys have relative social power.

Then we wonder why those same boys become the men who mistreat women, discriminate against us in the workplace, or look the other way when other men harass, bully or abuse us.

It can be jarring to realize just how deep misogyny goes. Renate Schroeder Dolphin, who was the butt of Kavanaugh and friends' "alumni" joke, previously had signed a letter of support for him, proclaiming his respect for women when she knew him in high school.

She told the New York Times she was not aware of the yearbook reference when she signed the letter and said in a statement that the "insinuation is horrible, hurtful and simply untrue."

To add insult to injury, Kavanaugh's lawyers claim that the yearbook entries don't mean what we all know they mean. Instead, they insist, the "Renate Alumnius" jokes were reflective of a deep respect for Renate, and only indicated that she had gone to dances and events with Kavanaugh and his friends.

("Judge Kavanaugh and Ms. Dolphin attended one high school event together and shared a brief kiss good night following that event," his lawyers' statement reads. Dolphin denied this through her lawyer: "Brett must have me confused with someone else, because I never kissed him.")

Everyone can see that Kavanaugh's denials are obvious BS, because we all know teenage boys don't make in-group sexualized jokes about women they respect. We viscerally know what "Renate Alumnius" means because we are collectively fluent, after long experience, in the subtle language of misogyny.

And we also know how it feels to have our fluency in that language denied. When women identify disrespect or demand better treatment, we are often the ones who are punished, or told that our version of events doesn't reflect reality. The denials from Kavanaugh's lawyers are practically Trumpian: Yes, it says what it says and we all know what that means, but you can't believe your lyin' eyes.

But this dishonest defense of entitlement, this propping up from an early age of the male version, doesn't work as well as it used to.

Indeed, whatever happens with the Kavanaugh nomination, one hopes that this ugly turn through his teenage past will at least help us to stop raising boys in this way. Ideally, we would raise kind — not casually cruel -- more nurturing, responsible boys, because it's the right thing to do for boys and girls.

But even if we raise boys to avoid misogyny and bad treatment of women under threat that it simply might curtail their bright futures, that's a good start, too. We'll take it as a win for now.

New York Coronavirus Cases

County data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 449900

Reported Deaths: 33087
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Queens716827243
Kings671367318
Bronx525784941
Nassau462182201
Suffolk460612011
Westchester378011454
New York330703174
Richmond157301085
Rockland14823675
Orange11812498
Erie10999689
Monroe5894289
Dutchess5059153
Onondaga4220205
Albany3016134
Oneida2375123
Ulster224295
Niagara1724101
Putnam157463
Sullivan157148
Broome146569
Schenectady138048
Saratoga99817
Rensselaer89942
Columbia58137
Chautauqua5379
Madison48717
Ontario46135
Oswego4473
Tompkins3970
Warren36033
Steuben35042
Fulton33224
Otsego3325
Chemung3303
Orleans32354
Herkimer32110
Greene31918
St. Lawrence3184
Genesee3145
Wayne3105
Washington28714
Cattaraugus2546
Chenango2487
Montgomery2274
Tioga22425
Livingston2018
Cayuga1992
Jefferson1630
Essex1600
Cortland1590
Clinton1545
Wyoming1325
Delaware1304
Seneca1053
Allegany981
Schoharie830
Franklin650
Yates627
Lewis500
Schuyler380
Hamilton150
Unassigned016
Utica
Clear
42° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 42°
Oneonta
Clear
36° wxIcon
Hi: 63° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 36°
Herkimer
Clear
42° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 42°
Thendara
Clear
42° wxIcon
Hi: 59° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 42°
WKTV Radar
WKTV Temperatures
WKTV Severe Weather
Click here to learn more about A Healthier Mohawk Valley
Saluting Those Who Are Proud 2 Serve
WKTV Golf Card - Under 150 left