Who Me?

With the deliverance of Judge Kavanaugh from accusations of attempted rape, we witness the birth of the successor to the “Me Too”  movement, the “Who Me?” movement. This is in recognition of the privilege men are accorded to deny uncorroborated charges of sexual predation. It’s not so much that women are actually disbelieved. It seems unlikely that a woman would want to expose herself to degrading attention by fabricating such charges. Rather, it’s simply that, in spectacular displays of cognitive dissonance, we favor innocent explanations of accusations against our sons, even at the expense of our daughters. 

In fiction, we’re quick to accept that predatory, conscienceless men frequently occupy positions of authority and celebrity, but when we run across one in real life, a guy like Bill Clinton or Bill Cosby, for example, we tend to excuse him rather than sacrifice our admiration for him. This may be instinctive. The female of our species, like the female of many mammal species, doesn’t mate willingly with every male that crosses her  path. Her mate tends to be the male that out-performs other males. Dominance is his key to success, and this, we believe, contributes to the soundness and survivability of the species. Boys will be boys, and it’s a good thing, too, or we might not be here. We don’t like to admit it, but we believe that if the decision were left to women, there would be a lot less mating and maybe not enough to keep the human race in business.

Kavanaugh’s critics face an additional impediment: precedent, in the form of the Clinton-Thomas doctrine. Thomas, a notorious sexual predator in the days when he could still get aroused, sits comfortably on the nation’s highest court, and Clinton, known among women in his circle as a sex fiend, addresses huge audiences of Democrats to enthusiastic applause. They wear the characteristic who-me smirk like a badge of honor. If their ugly sexual misconduct was not sufficient to trigger disapproval, why should Kavanaugh not enjoy the same protection?

There is every reason to believe that the very personality traits that propel ambitious men to positions of authority also enable them to abuse that authority. Not only do bosses touch the women around them, they do it in front of subordinate men as a sign of their dominance. They are above accountability, and they want to be sure everybody knows that. Researchers have demonstrated repeatedly that sociopaths are overrepresented among chief executives and other powerful men. Venality proves to be an advantage in career enhancement. More often than is healthy for women, miscreant boys like Kavanaugh grow up to occupy positions of dominance.

Kavanaugh’s critics tell us we should remember that his appointment is for life. What they don’t mention is that the conditions created for women by him and his role models–Clinton, Weinstein, Thomas, Moonves, Trump, et al.–will prevail long after these men shuffle off to Hell. Women who are forced into proximity with powerful men must now and into the indefinite future either bear the abuse or keep a lethal weapon handy. There was a day when a victim of sexual misconduct could tell her brother or father about it, and the culpable party would get a bloody nose. Those days have long since passed. The who-me movement guarantees that women who complain will be destroyed by the powerful men who prey on them.