The Good Men Who Came Out of the Woodwork during the Kavanaugh Hearings
All politics are local, they say, and not without good reason. The drama that’s playing out on a national stage in some way touches every single one of us, no matter our politics, our sexual proclivities or our beliefs about the participants or those who are maneuvering to win the partisan war.
As someone who has undergone a hauntingly similar experience to Dr. Ford’s, I have written about how I feel about the veracity of her account. However, it’s also important to note who else was affected. In this I mean those men who were and are deeply offended by the rhetoric and viciousness that has been bandied about this past week.
For that matter, those men who have been offended by Trump, everything Trump touches (especially all the women he grabbed, groped, fondled, kissed and raped over the years) and the message he sends to the Nation about women’s value. Or lack thereof.
Several men very close to me (both of whom I love dearly and one of them, a first responder) had a great deal to say about the claims made that Kavanaugh’s high school antics were just boys being boys.
These two men, both close to fifty, were deeply offended. Incensed, in fact. I know the parents of the first responder, my best friend Paul. I know how they raised their boys. And while Paul had his wild hair days, he never in his most insane moments took advantage of anyone. He was and still is a gentleman. I know. He was my roommate for several years, and I came to know him and his feelings about women very well. For Paul, there are certain boundaries you don’t cross. Not ever. Not even drunk. He should know, as he had an alcohol problem. Operative word: had. He got responsible, sobered up and is now a superb leader at his fire station.
The same goes for my other friend, who nearly blew his stack at the idea that forcing yourself on a girl in high school was simply what guys did. He was appalled. Not only was this out of the question, but the notion that within some circles, it was both expected and rewarded was beyond the pale.
He clearly isn’t among the entitled, self-righteous, prep school elite. His father was a working man, ex-military, shop owner in New York. But he has manners. The kinds of manners that are so rare today that you want to do a happy dance when he opens a car door, building door, and orders your meal for you.
Genteel. Gracious. Those are not automatically conveyed by virtue of birth. You can be schooled in which fork to use and how to use your utensils from the outside to the edge of the plate. But an asshole is still an asshole with a closet full of Dormeuil Vanquish II suits and House of Testoni loafers.
Clothes do not make the man. Breeding, character and conscience make the man (and woman, thanks). These three are lacking badly in those who lead our country right now, on both sides of the aisle.
In similar fashion, good men of good conscience have written extensively on Medium about their own experiences and opinions as the circus unfolded this week. This is an evolution of awareness, of offended rage. When you rip back the protective covers of silence and women speak out their truth, it is a collective yawp of great pain. Some of those women are wives, friends, daughters, nieces, co-workers, bosses. Your women, our women, their women, their girls, daughters, nieces, cousins.
“I had no idea.”
Last year, when the #MeToo Movement took off, untold numbers of good men- men for whom the idea of groping or raping or assaulting was simply incomprehensible- were shocked to their cores by the sheer number of revelations by women close to them. It’s too bad that Senator Jeff Flake’s friends didn’t bother to inform him until very late in the game. He might have voted very differently, and certainly wouldn’t have waited so long to put on the brakes with Kavanaugh in order to establish more information.
Like so many, Flake, whose politics I don’t share but who, I genuinely believe, is struggling to come to terms with a reality that he is far, far, far too isolated from in his world, is trying to do the right thing. That so many people, and in particular men- were and continue to be utterly ignorant of the scope of the issue, as well as how it touches the uber rich as well as the uber poor, is a statement of how well we’ve all been silenced.
These good men are still reeling a bit from just how vast the problem is. How culture- all our cultures- work to muzzle and control women whose bodies and rights have been violated. How families-rich, poor and middle class- do their best to prevent embarrassment and pressure their own girls to silence. How religious institutions not only protect but encourage rape and sodomy among their leaders, using the convenient escape hatch of weekly confession to rinse and repeat. How women and children are chattel, in effect, to be exploited and thrown away after being used. The behavior of bored, spoiled royalty, cascaded down by example to every level of society.
It is unfortunate that not enough of these good men wish to subject themselves to the ugliness of politics, which is where they’re sorely needed. Certainly more women, motivated by the Pussy-Grabber-in-Chief, have leapt in and are joining the fight. Perhaps that’s as it should be. I can only hope that their husbands and partners offer the kind of support and love they will need to survive. The simple fact is that both sides of the aisle have their fair share of offenders.
It’s the nature of the beast.
One Presidential hopeful did his best to have his way with me at one point when I was working on a campaign more than thirty years ago.
It’s the nature of the beast.
The right that the powerful feel they can wield with impunity.
This is precisely what makes them beasts. And by their example to the rest of us, the implicit message is that it’s okay to behave like one.
In a world where sports figures can get away with murder (Ray Lewis, and I will never believe otherwise), lots and lots of extramarital sex (Tiger Woods, I give less than a shit about his comeback as a result, after being a huge fan) and the NFL’s lousy habit of muzzling wives and abused women to ensure that the talent helps them win games, what should we expect? Money buys innocence even when guilty. Money rules. Celebrity rules.
In the case of the NFL, that august body has slowly come around to the realization that a great many women not only watch the game but are very, very interested in having them clean up their act. As someone who has been an avid fan since childhood (my dad was the Redskins’ first TV announcer) I am also increasingly invested in having the NFL rid itself of criminals, gang members and woman abusers. It’s a slow, slow process, because extreme talent exists in some of the country’s worst men.
Does this mean that there aren’t female abusers and accusers who scam the system? That there aren’t fake #MeToo stories to manipulate people? That there aren’t manufactured stories that can ruin good lives? Of course. Because there are plenty of assholes out there, including women.
However, this is what a sea change looks like. Messy, awful, sloppy, clumsy. People get hurt. There are going to be sacrificial lambs. However over time the rules get rewritten. Women get the vote. Civil rights are passed. Massive sea changes do happen. For each huge societal change, some will pay an enormous price. To them we should all be enormously grateful.
There are good people. Good men. Men for whom the current political parties are an embarrassment, in particular the Republicans. It is unfortunate that an entire party gets brushed with the face of one uniquely vicious offender — Trump — but the whole party drank the Koolaid. Those who are sick to their souls aren’t running again, and for good reason. They understand that to fight State TV (Fox and that slimebag Sean Hannity, he of the limited education, subpar IQ and enormous mouth) is useless, but also that those very considerations are going to cause an increasingly huge estrogen backlash, backed by their good men. Their friends. Their partners.
The best of us stand with our partners in the face of real wrong.
There are plenty of good men. And thank God.
Outrage is good. Outrage is healthy. Whether it’s the untrammeled gun violence, the abuse of veterans, prisoners and women, the abuse of children by the Church, the elderly who are over-medicated and abused by our medical system, it makes no difference. There’s a war going on here, and like all wars, the women, children and elderly are hurt the most. All wars damage the most vulnerable as spoiled brats at the top trade insults and missiles.
There are those who see Kavanaugh and his cronies in all men. If you possess a penis, you’re evil. They’re wrong. While I can certainly understand that anger, it disregards the simple truth that the potential for evil exists in all of us, just as the potential for goodness, truth and courage do.
What makes the difference is whether, man or woman, you make the fundamental choice to dip your spoon into the darkest regions of your inner world, or reach for the light. The latter is vastly more difficult.
Plenty of light has shown on the hearts and minds and faces of plenty of good men since Trump took office.
We see you, gentlemen. We see you.
And we love you for it.