The patriarchy testing the limits

A grotesque display of patriarchal resentment, Doreen St. Félix calls it.

At the time of this writing, composed in the eighth hour of the grotesque historic activity happening in the Capitol Hill chamber, it should be as plain as day that what we witnessed was the patriarchy testing how far its politics of resentment can go. And there is no limit.

For real. A woman testifies about what it was like to be pinned down and nearly suffocated by the nominee to the Supreme Court – and who flies into a rage? The male nominee who did the pinning down and near-suffocation, and a male Senator on his team. She was anxious and stressed but also serious and disciplined; the two hes were in spitting rages. Dominance sure does give people a lot of anger-privileges.

“Why suffer through the annihilation if it’s not going to matter?” Ford had told the Washington Post when she first went public with her allegations. With the word “annihilation” she conjured the spectre of Anita Hill, who, in her testimony against Clarence Thomas, in 1991, was basically berated over an exhausting two-day period, and diagnosed, by the senators interrogating her, with “erotomania” and a case of man-eating professionalism.

I remember it all too vividly. I particularly remember the “testimony” of John Doggett, and having to go out for a long walk to burn off the simmering rage he inspired.

Ford, in any case, was phenomenal, a “witness and expert” in one, and it seemed, for a moment following her testimony, that the nation might be unable to deny her credibility.

Then Kavanaugh came in, like an eclipse. He made a show of being unprepared. Echoing Clarence Thomas, he claimed that he did not watch his accuser’s hearing. (Earlier, it was reported that he did.) “I wrote this last night,” he said, of his opening statement. “No one has seen this draft.” Alternating between weeping and yelling, he exemplified the conservative’s embrace of bluster and petulance as rhetorical tools. Going on about his harmless love of beer, spinning unbelievably chaste interpretations of what was, by all other accounts, his youthful habit of blatant debauchery, he was as Trumpian as Trump himself, louder than the loudest on Fox News. He evaded questions; he said that the allegations brought against him were “revenge” on behalf of the Clintons; he said, menacingly, that “what goes around comes around.” When Senator Amy Klobuchar calmly asked if he had ever gotten blackout drunk, he retorted, “Have you?” (He later apologized to her.)

He behaved like an absolute pig – he behaved like a threat. He acted like any other guy who tears off the mask of mature civil normality to reveal a red-eyed furious asshole underneath. He completely, in my view (and that of many), nuked his own suitability for the Supreme Court…but it’s looking as if he will be put there anyway. A violent furious ragey rapey entitled privileged shithead who despises what he calls “the left” and sees plots to avenge “the Clintons” where there are none – on the Supreme Court.

There was, in this performance, not even a hint of the sagacity one expects from a potential Supreme Court Justice. More than presenting a convincing rebuttal to Ford’s extremely credible account, Kavanaugh—and Hatch, and Lindsey Graham—seemed to be exterminating, live, for an American audience, the faint notion that a massively successful white man could have his birthright questioned or his character held to the most basic type of scrutiny…Republican senators apologized to the judge, incessantly, for what he had suffered. There was talk of his reputation being torpedoed and his life being destroyed. This is the nature of the conspiracy against white male power—the forces threatening it will always somehow be thwarted at the last minute.

There was also much talk of his family. But who torpedoed his reputation? Who destroyed his life? Who brought all this on his family? Maybe it was not the Democrats or the plotters-for-theClintons or Christine Blasey Ford, maybe it was Kavanaugh himself. It’s pretty rich watching entitled drunk rapey guy blaming other people for his drunken rapey entitled ways.

Bad times; bad bad times.

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