Image of Kavanaugh and family standing next to Trump in front of an audience

President Trump nominates Judge Brett Kavanaugh for the U.S. Supreme Court. Image courtesy of the White House.

Throughout his tirade-filled rant in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh conducted a clinic on white male privilege. In doing so, he served up a clear example of the sense of entitlement many males live with in the (hopefully) dying Patriarchy.

On at least two separate occasions, Kavanaugh exposed what particularly white boys learn from family and the society at large as soon as they exit the womb, that they will advance in life as far as their hard work, talents, and aggressive competitive habits will take them, regardless of their backgrounds and family status.

This notion of meritocracy, the pablum on which they are weaned, endows them with a sense of entitlement deep within the cellular level of their bodies and the recesses of their souls.

When questioned by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) about his heavy drinking in high school, Kavanaugh asserted this as if it should have been understood:

“Senator, I was at the top of my class academically, busted my butt in school. Captain of the varsity basketball team. Got in Yale College. When I got into Yale College, got into Yale Law School. Worked my tail off.”

Kavanaugh blurted out a similar retort to Senator Mazie Hirono’s (D-HI) query specifically about his college drinking:

“Senator, you were asking about college. I got into Yale Law School. That’s the number-one law school in the country. I had no connections there. I got there by busting my tail in college.”

Kavanaugh connected all the dots for those of us who may not have internalized the lessons as well as he. The outline goes something like this:

If one is born with a penis between one’s legs, and pink-white skin and money from Christian family members, and considers oneself as cismale, and if one works hard, one has the right, or rather, the obligation to party hard and to accumulate as many notches on one’s sexual score card as possible. And especially, one can be guaranteed of achieving financial success, security, and social power over others.

If anyone, however, challenges this patriarchal endowment, one can obliterate opposition by all means necessary with as strong a show of force as physically and expressively possible. That’s the patriarchal social contract.

“So Senators,” Kavanaugh seemed to be shouting as his subtext, “I followed the rules of conduct that I was taught. Now I demand the goodies promised to me!”

Lindsey Graham reinforced this demand toward the end of the hearings with his own blame-laden outburst. Actually, Graham out-Kavanaughed Kavanaugh, while Kavanaugh even out-Trumped Trump – the top and most visible symbol of the entitled Patriarchy.

Possibly, though, our nation is experiencing a sea change of sorts as people like Drs. Anita Hill and Christine Blasey Ford and allies are beginning to pry loose the patriarchal pillars supporting the entitlement, the inequities, the gendered power differentials, the violence, and yes, the sexual abuse that men have taken as their birthright.

Maybe (and hopefully) we witnessed mortal desperate gasps of an endangered species.

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Dr. Warren J. Blumenfeld  is author of Warren’s Words: Smart Commentary on Social Justice (Purple Press), co-editor of Investigating Christian Privilege and Religious Oppression in the United States (Sense Publications), co-editor of Readings for Diversity and Social Justice (Routledge), editor of Homophobia: How We All Pay the Price (Beacon Press), and co-author of Looking at Gay and Lesbian Life (Beacon).


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