In front of the entire nation and the Senate Judiciary Committee, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testified that the recently sworn in Supreme Court judge Brett Kavanaugh attempted to rape her at a high school party in 1982. Her voice breaking, her eyes filling up with tears, Dr. Ford recounted the harrowing moments when Kavanaugh allegedly climbed on top of her, turning up the music and covering her mouth to keep her quiet as he attempted to remove her clothes. With medical precision and a palpable amount of pain, Dr. Ford described Kavanaugh’s laughter—the “good time” he was having at her expense.
But those men didn’t share their own stories of sexual assault, like so many survivors did from coast to coast in response to Dr. Ford’s testimony. Those men didn’t use the viral hashtag #WhyIDidntReport to highlight how flawed the justice system is, or how a prevalent and relentless rape culture often bullies victims into silence lest their credibility, their livelihoods, and their humanity be attacked. No, these men stood up and defiantly argued that attempting to rape a woman is a normal part of male culture in the United States. “We’ve all done it!” they proclaimed. “I don’t know a single man who hasn’t!” they exclaimed.
After Dr. Ford came forward and accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault, a White House lawyer promised that every man should be worried about allegations of sexual assault. “If somebody can be brought down by accusations like this, then you, me, every man certainly should be worried,” the lawyer told POLITICO. “We can all be accused of something.” The underlying message, of course, is that sexual violence against women is innate in men, therefore every man has a chance of being accused of sexual assault at some point in his life. Yes, heterosexual men commit 96 to 98 percent of all sexual violence against women (and men), but it’s not because they carry a “rape gene.” Sexual violence is a learned attribute, packaged as “boys will be boys” and “he hits you because he likes you” and “but what was she wearing?”
Fox News columnist Stephen Miller considers Dr. Ford’s description of sexual assault as simply “drunk teenagers playing seven minutes of heaven,” successfully normalizing sexual violence against women as nothing more than a teenage rite of passage. Sen. Chuck Grassley said during an interview, “I’d hate to ask, have somebody ask me what I did 35 years ago,” telling on himself like a prepubescent child in an effort to ensure the American public that every man was, at one point at least, a horrible human being. And Rod Dreher, a journalist for the American Conservative, tweeted, “I do not understand why the loutish drunken behavior of a 17 year old high school boy has anything to tell us about the character of a 53 year old judge.” He then followed it up by adding that he’s “not the same person I was at 17.” According to Dreher, all men are bad, yes, but their innate badness will magically disappear over time. We just have to be patient.
If it’s a "scary time for men in America," it’s for the one in six men who’ve experienced some form of sexual violence in their lifetime.
And after The New York Times reported that Kavanaugh was questioned by authorities after a bar fight in 1982, John Cardillo tweeted that he didn't know one guy, including himself, who hasn't been in a bar fight. "Not a single one." Cardillo was too busy tripping over himself to defend toxic masculinity and alcohol-fueled violence to notice that the report directly contradicted Kavanaugh’s testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, in which he downplayed his drinking habits. Arguing that all men get drunk and fight was more important than acknowledging that a man vying for a spot on the Supreme Court bench lied under oath. Uniting under a banner of belligerent brutality was more important than protecting the highest court in the country from a man who possibly committed perjury.
Of course, it’s not just men. Fifty-three percent of white women voted Trump into office, and it seems that many of those women are willing to stand by Kavanaugh as well. A spokeswoman for the Judicial Crisis Network described Kavanaugh’s alleged actions as “rough horseplay,” and 46 percent of white women believe Kavanaugh over Dr. Ford.
But across the country men are revealing themselves to be not only physically and sexually violent, but complicit bystanders who watched their friends hurt women and did nothing to prevent it or stop it. In the wake of the #MeToo movement, the chant #NotAllMen attempted to penetrate the cultural discourse of systemic gender-based violence, but now men are proudly screaming #YesAllMen. If a man had a drinking problem in high school or college, other men are yelling #MeToo. If a man engaged in sexually inappropriate conduct with a woman when he was young, other men are saying #MeToo.
The #MeToo movement for men has arrived, and has confirmed our worst fear: Yes, it really is all men. They’re telling us so.