Congratulations, Brett Kavanaugh, On Not Sexually Assaulting These Particular 65 Women!
Just yesterday, Senate Democrats announced that they had forwarded to the FBI a sexual assault allegation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh from back in the 1980s, while he was in high school attending the all-boys Georgetown Preparatory School, in Bethesda, Maryland.
The New Yorker reports that Kavanaugh's accuser first disclosed this to Democratic lawmakers back in July, when Kavanaugh was first nominated, but that Dianne Feinstein didn't think it was appropriate to say anything about it at the time, because it was so long ago. Thanks, Dianne!
In the letter, the woman alleged that, during an encounter at a party, Kavanaugh held her down, and that he attempted to force himself on her. She claimed in the letter that Kavanaugh and a classmate of his, both of whom had been drinking, turned up music that was playing in the room to conceal the sound of her protests, and that Kavanaugh covered her mouth with his hand. She was able to free herself. Although the alleged incident took place decades ago and the three individuals involved were minors, the woman said that the memory had been a source of ongoing distress for her, and that she had sought psychological treatment as a result.
Today, as if by magic, Sen. Chuck Grassley produced a letter signed by 65 women who say they have known Kavanaugh since he was in high school, who swear that he did not try anything with them and was always very nice and respectful. To them. So weird that they just happened to have it on hand, apropos of nothing.
We are women who have known Brett Kavanaugh for more than 35 years and knew him while he attended high school between 1979 and 1983. For the entire time we have known Brett Kavanaugh, he has behaved honorably and treated women with respect. We strongly believe it is important to convey this information to the Committee at this time.
Brett attended Georgetown Prep, an all-boys high school in Rockville, Maryland. He was an outstanding student and athlete with a wide circle of friends. Almost all of us attended all- girls high schools in the area. We knew Brett well through social events, sports, church, and various other activities. Many of us have remained close friends with him and his family over the years. Through the more than 35 years we have known him, Brett has stood out for his friendship, character, and integrity. In particular, he has always treated women with decency and respect. That was true when he was in high school, and it has remained true to this day.
The signers of this letter hold a broad range of political views. Many of us are not lawyers, but we know Brett Kavanaugh as a person. And he has always been a good person.
Allow me to bravely come forward and say that Brett Kavanaugh has never attempted to rape me, either. In fact, I will bet you that there are far more than 65 women out there that Brett Kavanaugh has never sexually assaulted. Whole countries, even. You go to China, you probably will not find a single woman who has been sexually assaulted by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. I will even go one further and point out that our prisons are currently filled with rapists who never raped me, and murderers who never even tried to murder me. I am alive, and if that is not proof enough of their innocence, I don't know what is.
But still -- just as a thought experiment here, raise your hand if you know someone who was very nice and pleasant to you, who perhaps even considered themselves a feminist, but whom you also know sexually assaulted someone else. I'm raising both of mine. And a leg.
There was a woman I knew, back in Rochester, who told me she danced with Kenneth Bianchi -- one of the Hillside Stranglers -- at a wedding once, and that he was one of the most charming men she'd ever met. He didn't strangle her! Ann Rule worked with Ted Bundy at a suicide hotline and thought he was just wonderful. He didn't murder her! John Wayne Gacy performed as a clown at myriad children's parties where he did not rape and murder a single child.
In fact, there is a pretty common trope that when someone finds out that their neighbor was a serial killer, they describe them to news media as "quiet, kept to themselves mostly." We all understand, cognitively, that just because a serial killer doesn't murder everyone they meet, that doesn't mean they don't have a pile of bones buried under their floorboards. We also understand that the people who commit these kinds of crimes are often "superficially charming." If they weren't, it would be harder to get away with them.
Yet, every time someone prominent is accused of rape, or sexual assault, or sexual harassment, there is the inevitable trotting out of a series of women who say that he did not, in fact, rape, sexually assault or sexually harass them -- as if this offers some kind of proof of innocence. That is absurd. There is no other kind of crime in which "Hey, he didn't do it to me!" is any kind of defense. If someone robs a bank, you don't find 65 other banks that the person didn't rob in order to prove their innocence.
To be clear, I'm not saying I know for a fact that Kavanaugh is even guilty of this -- I don't -- what I am saying is that this is not any kind of proof of anything, and it's harmful to act as if it is. One of the things that makes it hard for survivors to come forward is the fear of other people going "Oh, he's a good guy, he would never!" And that is bullshit, because almost everyone who has ever committed any kind of crime, any kind of sexual assault, is someone else's "Oh! They'd never!"
Robyn didn't intend to work at all today, because she has to make her eggplant for a dinner party, but she graciously postponed that in order to yell about this for you! Surely, you can throw a couple of bucks Wonkette's way so that she can get paid for her selflessness!
Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Previously, she was a Senior Staff Writer at Death & Taxes, and Assistant Editor at The Frisky (RIP). Currently, she writes for Wonkette, Friendly Atheist, Quartz and other sites. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse