Pixel Tracker

Tuesday, December 18 , 2018, 3:54 pm | Partly Cloudy 63º

 
 
 
 

Connie Schultz: Nothing Normal About Assault Allegations Against Teenage Brett Kavanaugh

Tuesday evening, I was scrolling Twitter for news updates when I came upon this post by Emma Thatcher:

“Hello, female high school student here. I would just like to say that the emergence of this whole ‘teenage boys should get a pass because they’re not mature enough to understand consent’ narrative is probably one of the most unsettling things I have ever witnessed.”

She was referring, of course, to recent attempts to simultaneously excuse and demonize all teenage boys to salvage the reputation of one man, U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Christine Blasey Ford, a research psychologist and professor, has accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her at a party when he was 17, and she was 15.

In a letter to Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Anna Eshoo, both California Democrats, Ford describes Kavanaugh as “stumbling drunk” as he and a friend pushed her into a bedroom. She writes that he pinned her onto a bed, groped her and grinded against her, and tried to remove her clothes.

When he allegedly put his hand over her mouth to muffle her screams, she wrote, “I feared he might inadvertently kill me.”

These descriptions bear repeating because, regardless of whether one believes Ford, defending Kavanaugh by arguing that adolescent boys frequently do stupid things discloses more about his defenders than they intend.

If you never attempted to rape a girl in high school, shouldn’t your response be outrage that any teenage boy would?

In October 1991, Anita Hill appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee to testify under oath about then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas’ alleged sexual harassment.

This was the opening description of that hearing from David A. Kaplan, then a Newsweek journalist:

“It pre-empted the game shows, it interrupted weekend plans of foliaging, it transfixed a nation,” he wrote. “It was carnal, ugly and surreal. This was the Scandal With Everything — penises, power, intense emotional pain — and millions tuned in. They watched an X-rated spectacle that was repulsive and irresistible at the same time.”

An exchange between Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., the committee chairman, and Hill, whose elderly parents sat behind her:

Anita Hill: “The incident involved his going to his desk — getting up from a work table, going to his desk, looking at this can and saying, ‘Who put pubic hair on my Coke?’”

Joe Biden: “Was anyone else in his office at the time?”

AH: “No.”

And this:

JB: “What was the content of what he said?”

AH: “Well, this was a reference to an individual who had a very large penis. And he used the name that he had been referred to in the pornographic material.”

JB: “Do you recall what it was?”

AH: “Yes, I do. The name that was referred to was Long Dong Silver.”

Four days after her testimony, my son turned 17.

I don’t remember our discussions about Anita Hill, but I’m certain we talked about her. His father was a law professor and I was freelance journalist. There is no way we ignored what was happening to Hill — as an assistant to Thomas, and as a witness before the Senate committee.

I am just as certain that my son and I talked about what men should and shouldn’t do to women. I was a mother and a feminist, and I did not leave to chance what my children would learn about such boundaries.

Here’s what I do remember about my son at age 17: He was thoughtful and smart — my “chess jock,” I called him. His room was a mess and he mouthed off regularly to me, but he was also gentle and kind, which was never more obvious than in his interactions with his little sister.

I confess to a mother’s certainty that there’s no one like my son, but I know there have always been many other teenage boys like him, then and now. Such boys never presume consent where it is not granted, nor would they ever ignore a girl’s pleas to stop.

I don’t want to lose sight of this — of these boys — as we discuss what is and is not acceptable from a male of any age.

There will always be teenage boys and men who are sexual predators, who do terrible things to innocent people. They are not the norm.

Let us use this moment in our country — as parents and grandparents, educators and counselors — to make sure of it.

Connie Schultz is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist, professional in residence at the Kent State University School of Journalism & Mass Communication, and author of ... and His Lovely Wife, which chronicled the successful campaign of her husband, Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio. E-mail her at [email protected], and follow her on Twitter: @ConnieSchultz. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Email
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership
×

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.