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“…the thrum of vindictive satisfaction”

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Excellent piece by Jia Tolentino about how Brett Kavanaugh rode the wave of the anti-#MeToo backlash:

The underlying principle here is that the men who have been accused are the heroes, and that those who accuse them, and listen to the accusations, are the villains. This revanchism is not a sign of #MeToo’s overcorrection, or even of its success—it is merely evidence of its existence. This sort of backlash, as Susan Faludi wrote nearly thirty years ago, is “set off not by women’s achievement of full equality but by the increased possibility that they might win it. It is a preemptive strike that stops women long before they reach the finish line.”

When Ford spoke publicly, at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in late September, she was unfailingly polite and deferential while being interrogated at length about a traumatic experience. She spoke like a woman who had understood since childhood that survival requires anticipating and accepting the displeasure of men. Kavanaugh, in contrast, who spoke after her, yelled and wept, behaving like a man whose entitlement had never before been challenged, and who believed that male power outweighs women’s personhood as naturally as a boulder outweighs a pearl. The hearing was a vivid illustration of the precise problem that #MeToo has helped to expose, and of the fact that many men consider the exposure of the problem to be the problem itself. At one point, Kavanaugh traded lines with an equally furious Senator Lindsey Graham about how the delay in his confirmation had put him “through hell.”

The anger crackling through Kavanaugh and Graham—and the thrum of vindictive satisfaction that I could feel passing through the base they were playing to—shut me down for the evening. I grasped, for the first time, the extent to which the past year has made some men crave the poisonous high of feeling wrongfully endangered. I also grasped the scale of the consequences that women and other sexual-assault victims will face as a result. Like the white supremacists who marched in Charlottesville, these men are borrowing the rhetoric of the structurally oppressed and delivering it with a rage that is denied to all but the most powerful. “I’m a single white male from South Carolina,” Graham said, at a meeting the morning after the hearing, “and I’m told that I should just shut up, but I will not shut up.”

[…]

It will be said that Kavanaugh was confirmed despite the #MeToo movement. It would be at least as accurate to say that he was confirmed because of it. Women’s speech—and the fact that we are now listening to it—has enraged men in a way that makes them determined to reëstablish the longstanding hierarchy of power in America. By imagining that they are threatened, men like Kavanaugh have found the motivation to demonstrate, at great cost to the rest of us, that they are still the ones that have the ability to threaten others.

Trump apparently played a hand in Kavanaugh’s strategy to go the full Trump, and in terms of the goal of getting them confirmed they both knew what they were doing.

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