Gina Sosa, a former Republican congressional candidate in Florida asked an interesting question live on CNN, in defense of Brett Kavanaugh.“Tell me, what boy hasn’t done this in high school?”
As Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts Jr expands, “what boy hasn't -- as Kavanaugh allegedly did -- thrown a girl down and pinned her with his weight? What boy hasn't ground himself against a girl while trying to rip off her clothes? What boy hasn't covered a girl's mouth when she tried to scream?”
FYI Ms Sosa, I did not do that. And the overwhelming majority of my friends and acquaintances in high school and college have not done that.
But there’s an underlying assumption here. The assumption is: “This is how all young men behave ---- they drink, get drunk or do drugs, and forcibly attempt to rape unsuspecting young women. Boys will be boys, and men will be men. This is how boys and men behave ---- and Brett Kavanaugh was behaving like a normal, typical high school male.”
This attitude somehow justifies attempted rape and sexual assault. It seeks to normalize it, because “everyone does it.”
I’m sorry to inform you, Ms Sosa, that NOT all young men “have done this.” But even if all ---- or even a majority ---- of young men “did this,” it still does not justify it or make it OK.
It is true and unfortunate that young boys ---- and girls ---- get mixed messages about what it means to “BE A MAN” (or “be a woman.”) There’s a lot of peer pressure to go along, to “be cool,” to fit in and be popular. We humans are social animals, and we want to be liked and be part of the herd. At a time when adolescents are pushing the limits and rebelling against the rules, sexual mores and boundaries are among those that will be tested.
This is an area where we, as responsible adults, parents and educators need to be very clear: RAPE IS RAPE, AND ASSAULT IS ASSAULT. ASSAULT ---- of any kind ----- IS A CRIME, punishable under the law.
But this is not just about “It’s a crime,” or “it’s illegal” or even “it’s morally wrong.” It’s a basic tenet of our society that all humans are entitled to certain rights under the law, including the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; and the rights to privacy and safety.
These rights are not just for men; women are equally as human, and entitled to the same rights that men are. As Cheris Kamarae famously said, “Feminism is the radical idea that women are people too.”
Martin Luther King wrote, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
We as a society need to recognize that all people ---- women and men ---- have rights to safety and privacy. We need to recognize that the quality of our lives, and the lives of our families and friends---- is demeaned when we accept a "boys will be boys" attitude and thereby justify assault and violence. We need to insist on respect, kindness and civility for people of both genders and all sexual preferences, and all races and religions. We are all in this together, and we will all be happier and safer doing so.