Somewhere, back in those hazy days of college, there may have been a time or two when I tried to put the moves on women who weren’t interested.
I wasn’t a choirboy. Then again, as we’ve seen more than once, even choirboys aren’t choirboys all the time.
A couple of things, though. First, whatever I may have done or not done, these acts came under the definition of, as Bob Seger once wrote, “those awkward teenage blues.” They were not actions of a confident guy with a swagger, who was eager to assert his dominance.
Second, I knew that I took a risk. Either the girl/woman was going to respond favorably or — as was much more often the case — make it quite clear, if not in words certainly in action, that she was not interested.
We’re not talking about assault. We’re talking about sneaking my arm around her shoulder, or other things of that ilk. Most important, in my mind, whatever was to ensue from “those awkward teenage blues” was 100 percent her call. If the words or body language indicated I should back off, I backed off.
I knew that taking it too far, whatever “it” was, was just wrong. Even then, in the party days of the 1970s, when, allegedly, virtually anything went, I did not force myself on anyone. Or try to.
In any social construct you want to talk about, I don’t consider myself unique, which means I’m surely not the only male of my generation who knew when to put on the brakes. None of us were perfect. We all sat around locker rooms and told tales, and some of us even knew enough to realize that’s all they were. Tales. And we may have swapped ribald jokes now and then, and had a laugh or two over things we’d never dream of saying in mixed company.
Some of us may, now and then, let the off-color joke slip in mixed company. And some of us may not, even now, be very good at hiding our appreciation of a person’s natural beauty.
But I never knew anyone who took it as far as Brett Kavanaugh is alleged to have taken it.
And this is why I don’t understand this idea that because Kavanaugh was in high school when he’s alleged to have tried to rape a woman at a party, we should just forget about it and rubber-stamp his nomination to the Supreme Court. High school kids know right from wrong. Hormones, raging or otherwise, don’t excuse attempted rape.
We all had higher testosterone levels at age 17. And a great majority of us probably got inebriated now and then at parties. But we didn’t necessarily use that as an excuse to assault women.
To me, that’s where it begins and ends. Some argue that it seems fishy that the alleged victim waited until now, once Kavanaugh was nominated to SCOTUS. And others say it doesn’t matter when she came forward, and that this is an accusation to be taken seriously. Knowing a little (but only a little, compared to real victims) about what women go through once they set the wheels of justice in motion in rape or sexual assault cases, I tend to believe them when they come forward. Most of the time, they stand to lose much more than they’ll ever gain.
But if you want to argue with me that there ought to be a statute of limitations for offenses committed while in high school, then let’s go. Teenagers have committed some serious crimes, and I’d say rape, or attempted rape, or sexual assault, falls into that group. I don’t buy the view that there’s a magical line of demarcation that separates a juvenile rapist from a responsible adult.
Besides, rape is not about sex. It’s not some puckish notion of raging, uncontrollable hormones run amok.
Rape is the assertion of power and dominance over its subject. There is nothing innocent, or tender, or loving about it. Rape is a savage act of physical violation the same as any other type of violence. You don’t get a pass because you were 17. There are many lifetime criminals who were well on their way by the time they were 17.
At this point, Kavanaugh should withdraw, because to do anything else would result in the same thing the country went through with Clarence Thomas’ confirmation hearings in 1991. But I’ll bet he doesn’t. And that means the Senate is going to have to reject his nomination. But I’ll bet it doesn’t.
And that’ll be a travesty. We’re talking about a man who, if his accuser is to be believed, attempted to commit rape. Now, he’s being presented to us as an arbitrator on the highest court in the land.
How in the world is that acceptable?