When boys humiliate girls at school

The #MeToo reckoning is still coming — not just for the prominent men who use their power to exploit other...

Posted: Sep 26, 2018 6:35 PM
Updated: Sep 26, 2018 6:35 PM

The #MeToo reckoning is still coming — not just for the prominent men who use their power to exploit others, but also for the boys they once were. We are recognizing, finally, that misogynist men are made, not born.

The task, now, is to interrupt the making.

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Females (demographic group)

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Brett Kavanaugh

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Political Figures - US

Sex and gender issues

Sex discrimination

Societal issues

As he seeks confirmation to the US Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh has taken great pains to paint himself as a champion of women and girls, a strategy employed to undercut Democratic assertions that he would overturn Roe v. Wade.

Then came an allegation of sexual assault while Kavanaugh was a student at Georgetown Prep high school, made by Christine Blasey Ford, who attended a neighboring school. Then another allegation that Kavanaugh pushed his penis in the face of a classmate at Yale. He vigorously denies both accusations.

But now there's Kavanaugh's Georgetown Prep yearbook. It is rife with sexist sexual innuendo about "Renate Alumnius" (Renate Schroeder being a girl in Kavanaugh's broader social circle back then) and "FFFFFFFourth of July (a lewd and predatory term).

In a more feminist world, such casual misogynist cruelty would be rare. But anyone who has passed through high school knows that the language employed by Kavanaugh and crew is indeed quite typical of teenage "boys just being boys." And that's exactly the problem: Teenage boyhood continues to accept, sometimes even hinge on, misogyny and ill treatment of girls — usually girls over whom boys have relative social power.

Then we wonder why those same boys become the men who mistreat women, discriminate against us in the workplace, or look the other way when other men harass, bully or abuse us.

It can be jarring to realize just how deep misogyny goes. Renate Schroeder Dolphin, who was the butt of Kavanaugh and friends' "alumni" joke, previously had signed a letter of support for him, proclaiming his respect for women when she knew him in high school.

She told the New York Times she was not aware of the yearbook reference when she signed the letter and said in a statement that the "insinuation is horrible, hurtful and simply untrue."

To add insult to injury, Kavanaugh's lawyers claim that the yearbook entries don't mean what we all know they mean. Instead, they insist, the "Renate Alumnius" jokes were reflective of a deep respect for Renate, and only indicated that she had gone to dances and events with Kavanaugh and his friends.

("Judge Kavanaugh and Ms. Dolphin attended one high school event together and shared a brief kiss good night following that event," his lawyers' statement reads. Dolphin denied this through her lawyer: "Brett must have me confused with someone else, because I never kissed him.")

Everyone can see that Kavanaugh's denials are obvious BS, because we all know teenage boys don't make in-group sexualized jokes about women they respect. We viscerally know what "Renate Alumnius" means because we are collectively fluent, after long experience, in the subtle language of misogyny.

And we also know how it feels to have our fluency in that language denied. When women identify disrespect or demand better treatment, we are often the ones who are punished, or told that our version of events doesn't reflect reality. The denials from Kavanaugh's lawyers are practically Trumpian: Yes, it says what it says and we all know what that means, but you can't believe your lyin' eyes.

But this dishonest defense of entitlement, this propping up from an early age of the male version, doesn't work as well as it used to.

Indeed, whatever happens with the Kavanaugh nomination, one hopes that this ugly turn through his teenage past will at least help us to stop raising boys in this way. Ideally, we would raise kind — not casually cruel -- more nurturing, responsible boys, because it's the right thing to do for boys and girls.

But even if we raise boys to avoid misogyny and bad treatment of women under threat that it simply might curtail their bright futures, that's a good start, too. We'll take it as a win for now.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 614946

Reported Deaths: 9807
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion849231342
Lake45784693
Allen33103560
Hamilton29752316
St. Joseph27572383
Elkhart24496346
Vanderburgh19679255
Tippecanoe18150144
Johnson15234296
Porter14970172
Hendricks14550253
Madison11071223
Clark10852145
Vigo10819185
Monroe9496115
Delaware9193136
LaPorte9173164
Howard8325148
Kosciusko811485
Warrick683399
Hancock6783106
Bartholomew6659100
Floyd6522113
Wayne6194164
Grant6050118
Dubois559081
Boone557968
Morgan551996
Henry512365
Marshall507884
Dearborn488745
Cass487864
Noble476159
Jackson428747
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Lawrence395180
Clinton375845
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Sullivan193633
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Fountain185227
Starke177044
Jay168723
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Carroll160616
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Brown88835
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Crawford8099
Martin75013
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Switzerland6695
Union6297
Ohio4967
Unassigned0375

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 872918

Reported Deaths: 10856
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin102616707
Cuyahoga868931154
Hamilton65148455
Montgomery43662420
Summit35411766
Lucas31794634
Butler31451232
Stark26247445
Warren19939144
Lorain19378229
Mahoning17561339
Lake16350161
Clermont16235113
Delaware1463881
Licking13453142
Fairfield1301782
Trumbull12980317
Greene12226144
Medina11798169
Clark11094266
Wood10507158
Allen10031128
Portage9514111
Richland9275134
Miami927273
Marion7512113
Tuscarawas7455186
Columbiana7433124
Pickaway735250
Muskingum714042
Wayne7140172
Erie6253130
Ross5589100
Hancock556292
Scioto545365
Geauga518955
Darke474395
Lawrence464658
Union459130
Ashtabula457973
Sandusky440462
Huron435541
Mercer435590
Seneca435366
Auglaize425166
Belmont423948
Jefferson423969
Shelby422923
Washington396340
Athens38619
Putnam379276
Madison359930
Knox358423
Ashland349638
Fulton341744
Defiance336188
Crawford327274
Preble323637
Brown318821
Logan314835
Ottawa297443
Clinton293944
Highland282219
Williams282267
Jackson266145
Guernsey259326
Champaign254628
Fayette241030
Morrow23594
Perry235518
Holmes227274
Henry222954
Hardin217033
Coshocton208023
Van Wert204445
Gallia200126
Wyandot198151
Pike180918
Adams179815
Hocking174024
Carroll158216
Paulding145521
Noble121040
Meigs110324
Monroe103433
Harrison89821
Morgan84531
Vinton71714
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