The GOP’s Sexist Culture

I need to vent.

I realize I live in a bubble. On my campus and in my neighborhood, I just don’t encounter people like those who are dismissing the accusations against Brett Kavanaugh as “politically motivated,” or even worse, accepting their accuracy but dismissing their importance.

Senate Republicans have deliberately chosen to embrace Kellyanne Conway’s “alternate facts,” and the conspiracy theories so beloved by Donald Trump and to disregard their constitutional obligation to objectively review this nominee.

Speaking of conspiracy theories, the attacks on Dr. Ford have a lot in common with  “birtherism.”  To disbelieve her accusation, you need to believe that Ford knew years ago, when confiding in her therapist and her husband, that Kavanaugh would someday be a nominee to the Supreme Court, and so she carefully planted incriminating evidence. And Obama’s mother knew the day she had him that some day he’d run for President, so she sent his birth announcement from Kenya to the Hawaii newspapers…


We don’t yet know what similarly bizarre theories will be offered to rebut the additional accusations that have emerged, or to justify Kavanaugh’s clear disinterest in an FBI investigation which–if he isn’t lying through his teeth– would clear his name.

What we do know is that we live in a patriarchal culture that continues to devalue women and denigrate the significance of our experiences.

We also know that Senate Republicans are so frantic to “capture” the Supreme Court and protect their radically right-wing agenda, that they were willing to breach their constitutional duty to “advise and consent” in order to deny President Obama his choice of (a very moderate) Merrick Garland. As Trump’s “slam-dunk” choice has turned out to be not so slam-dunk, their dismay is understandable.

Their misogyny is not.

The Senate GOP found out about the newest allegations two days before they became public. Their response?  An effort to speed up the confirmation vote–Not concern over determining the truth of the matter, nor hesitation about the consequences of elevating a person who might prove to be a liar and  sexual predator to the highest court in the land.

The most striking aspect of GOP Senators’ reaction to each of these revelations has been their utter tone-deafness. Lindsey Graham says he’s willing to listen to Dr. Ford, but then adds “What am I supposed to do? Go ahead and ruin this guy’s life based on an accusation?”

Other (white Christian male) Republican Senators have similarly pre-judged Kavanaugh’s behavior–after all, he was “only” 17. Ford was “confused.” Trump, of course, tweeted that if the incident had really been as bad as she described, she should have reported it then and there. (I may be wrong, but I don’t think any of the 19 women who have accused Trump of sexual assaults made a contemporaneous report…)

The overwhelming message coming from the GOP is: sexually assaulting a woman shouldn’t matter. It’s no big deal.

If it did happen, he was young. And white and privileged.

Of course, if it did happen–and logic and evidence strongly suggest that it did (she told her therapist years ago, has passed a lie detector test and has asked for an FBI investigation)–then Kavanaugh has clearly lied to the Senate.  Surely that should matter.

Despite the Republicans’ ham-handed efforts to avoid the public relations mistakes made during the Anita Hill hearings, the message that America’s women are hearing loud and clear is that our testimony will always be discounted, our motives will always be impugned, and offenses against us will always be considered less important than the continued enjoyment of power and status by our male superiors.

Unfortunately for the GOP, however, and as much as they would clearly like to withdraw the franchise, we can–and will– vote.


  1. Thanks so much for yet another great commentary, Sheila. In this ongoing sea of daily lies, I am grateful to see your email and have the opportunity to read something truthful that makes sense and represents the values of my nation.

  2. What has sickened me even more than all you say, Sheila, is the responses from other women that I read on social media. How can they think that way, say those things?? If nothing like this has ever happened to them or women they know (and odds say it has), why does that automatically mean it couldn’t have happened to these women? It’s disgusting. If women can’t even stand together against this treatment of victims, how can we ever hope to have the male establishment take women seriously?

  3. The republicans don’t care that their responses to the accusations are transparently insincere; it’s all about winning.

  4. Well, based on the primary elections so far this year, women are doing more than voting. I believe we have a record number of women running and winning elections.

    Once again, thanks to Donald J. Trump.

    Sometimes, unintended consequences are a good thing. I still believe that the election of Trump has sped up progressivism in the United States much faster than a victory by another faux progressive from the DNC.

    Yesterday, I shared two articles on my FB page:

    * The first was from Ban Ki-moon who talked about USA’s healthcare system is an embarrassment and amoral.

    * The second was Trump speaking in front of world leaders at the UN. He gave them his list of accomplishments as he does at his rally’s and they laughed at him. “Didn’t expect that reaction,” said Trump, who hosts a Security Council session today. “But that’s OK.” Trump later said his remarks, which mimicked verbiage he’s used repeatedly at rallies, were intended to provoke laughter.

    Lying is a part of his genetic makeup so supporting Kavanaugh makes perfect sense. Most politicians have the amazing ability to lie without any telltale signs. Sociopaths?

    Let’s see; if I were a billionaire and were going to invest 10% of my worth on politicians, I sure wouldn’t pick the awakened man/woman with a conscience. They’d turn on my demands for specific policies because they’d know it was wrong. I’d invest my money in a sociopath – a professional liar without a conscience. I could always count on them to follow through on my orders without questioning the morality of my ask.

    This massive conglomeration of sociopaths is why journalists outside the grips of establishment media call our political sphere a Kakistocracy (press included).

  5. “On my campus and in my neighborhood, I just don’t encounter people like those who are dismissing the accusations against Brett Kavanaugh as “politically motivated,” or even worse, accepting their accuracy but dismissing their importance.”

    Sheila; in my 81 years of life and the personal sexual attacks, abuses and harassment I have encountered, witnessed or been told, in schools and the workplace, the law of averages suggests you have “encountered” those people without being aware of their basic natures. You are a well known person on your campus and in your neighborhood; “those people” know when to raise their voices and when to shut up. Consider Trump’s 19 KNOWN sexual abuse charges over a number of years; he has switched parties and not been affiliated with any party at times during these as yet hidden or ignored charges occurred. Today’s Republican party is taking full advantage of their position of total power in all three branches of government to ignore all facts, evidence and truths of any and all situations to push through their final decisions. This Kavanaugh appointment is a primary example; the Republicans are keeping it before the public as a distraction from the blatant results of the Senate “hearing” where many, but not all, of Kavanaugh’s legal actions through years of high level positions are being ignored…or at worse…FORGOTTEN. The Committee has yet to receive the majority of documentation of his actions and decisions but the “hearing” has ended and the Thursday questioning session will not be part of the consideration in the final vote, coming within hours after Dr. Ford will be heard. IF that happens!

    These sexual accusations are vital knowledge regarding this man’s basic personality; doubtful the two we have heard from are the only encounters of sexual abuses – or attempts – made by Kavanaugh. He is a Trump favorite due to his past decisions throughout his legal positions and a fellow “pussy grabber” in good stead with the president. Many of us watched as Bill Cosby was marched through his once adoring public in handcuffs and in shame; he is 81 years old, will we have to wait till Kavanaugh is 81 years old to see him get his comeuppance? Will the Senate Judiciary Committee remember his responses or lack thereof when they make their final decision on seating him on SCOTUS or will they operate only on the Republican shaming of Kavanaugh’s long ago sexual victims and base their decision on Trump’s praise.

    Trump who yesterday was laughed at by the United Nations and before the world, who recognized his lies and reacted; they showed awareness of Trump’s shameful and dangerous dishonesty while our own Congress sits idle, ignoring their Constitutional responsibility, Rule of Law and American democracy. The future of countless American lives and legal issues now rests on one man…Brett Kavanaugh.


    IF we still have our right to vote on November 6th.

  6. What I think I am witnessing is the last gasp of misogynistic male power as it fights to hold onto its position in society. I pray I am right, and their end is near.

  7. Venting is good! It helps prevent ulcers.

    In George Lakoff’s excellent book, “Don’t Think of an Elephant”, he describes the tenets of Republicanism that includes their blind spots. Republicans are hard-wired to lie, cheat and steal in their view of politics. As Daleb, says, it’s all about winning. Now, with Citizens United allowing unlimited money to be funneled into politics, it becomes more about winning for the donors, not the overall good for the nation. Since most of the donors are investing in Republicans, it’s more clear than ever that ethics, statesmanship and justice are of little interest to these people.

    Republicans are so deep into their mud pie of graft, that doing absurd things in public no longer seems wrong to them or their constituents. Radical, right-wing, seditious behavior and actions are the new norm for Republicans. They must ALL be voted out before they become the American version of the Nazi party – if they aren’t already. Grassley, Hatch, Cruz, Cornyn, Graham? Please. My ant farm has more character than these damned fools.

    There! That feels better.

  8. Jo Ann you had a great but long informative comment that added well to Prof Kennedy’s. I know Trump has paid for sex and has shown that mindset that stains our culture. The only thing he can say is I didn’t know I’d be President. Well I’m never gonna be President but I’ll never be that way toward women, not even close.
    How does the character of a man influence his decisions. More importantly why aren’t we discussing decisions we are opposed to that have been “forgotten”. I’m sure their are plenty of people that aren’t totallly aware of his decisions. I’m hoping that that people can wake up to some of them.

  9. There’s a social media post making the rounds that opines no men are safe from these accusations and smears. That’s ridiculous. Most men do not commit nor are ever accused of sexual violence.

    Women are more likely to be damaged by male smears than vice versa. Men brag of their real and imagined sexual conquests as Brett Kavanaugh and his classmates did in their yearbook references to ‘Renate Alumnius’. A teenage girl named Renate at a nearby school said she had never even kissed Kavanaugh. But the boys – to make themselves look more worldly – referenced her as a needy tramp willing to do anything for acceptance. Boys brag of sexual conquest. Girls feel damaged by those rumors and gossips.

    So even though the social media post is ridiculous on its face, if it backs off those prone to sexual violence and causes more sexual activity to be consensual, that ridiculous poster is a good thing after all.

  10. If lying under oath were enough to disqualify a Republican, Kavanaugh would have already been consigned to the ash heap of history. He lied during his nomination hearings to the Circuit Court and we have definitive proof of that. Senator Leahy even went so far as to refer the case to the Dept. of Justice, where Bush’s AG, Gonzales (torture is okay), declined to proceed. He lied during his most recent hearings and when he wasn’t lying, he was evading answers. Imagine having trouble with the name of a law firm (Sekulow et al.) that is first, very well known in DC and New York, and second, is the firm where one of your best friends works.

    I wonder why Senator Graham feels that it would ruin Judge Kavanaugh’s life to find himself permanently on the DC Circuit, rather than down the street at the Supreme Court? He had no such qualms about Merrick Garland.

    The only good thing that can come from his elevation to the Supreme Court is that the Senate will go blue in November, but is that worth 30 years of radical right wing SCOTUS decisions? Not to anyone who cares about the people, the government, or the Constitution.


  11. I want to live in your neighborhood. I live in Texas. (job). I am tired of trying to find common group and be the better person among these white “christians.” It wears me out. We are working to get Beto elected and Ted Cruz to become a fact of history that can be left out like Hillary in the Texas textbooks.

  12. Sheila I envy you.

    I live in northern Florida amidst a teeming hoard of Trumpers. What I hear is frightening. “He’s doing just what we need.” We have to keep them Mexicans out.” “The Democrats are ruining everything he tries to do.” He’s making us great again.” etc., ad nauseum.

    One enlightened person told me when I first moved here that, “We see this area more as southern Georgia than northern Florida.

    There is not even a Democrat organization in my county of 70,000, and my efforts to start one have met with total silence from the state party.

    I fervently hope for the “blue wave,” but there are still too many ignorant, stupid and bigoted Trumpers for me to feel safe.

    Vote Blue! Please!

  13. Sexual harassment, coercion, intimidation, and bullying, takes many forms and in different places, from priests, clerics, to the Hollywood Couch, family members, teachers, bars, all the way up the ladder in corporate America to politicians.

    Power is a necessary component and it does not relax it’s grip, it seeks out the vulnerable or those who are perceived to be vulnerable. The frat-rat, or good old boy network has it’s own rules it plays by. Sexual predators inhabit our society, they are not limited in away, they are found every where.

    Some of the people on Face Book are engaging in the What – About, Got You arguments with comparisons to Ted Kennedy, Bill Clinton, Al Franken, etc.

    There was even one ridiculous photo-shop on Face Book of President Agent Orange in the Oval Office, his head down and his hands folded in prayer, praying for Kavanaugh and his family. The target audience here is Pastor Pence’s bible thumper’s. President Agent Orange was not praying to be guided by truth – Hell how could President Agent Orange pray for truth, when he distorts or lies everyday.

  14. The Republicans dealing with the sexual assault on Dr Ford is just another assault on her and now her family.

    In my opinion, Chuck Grassley, (R) Iowa, should return to Iowa and slither back into the pig sty that he came out and take his good friends Orrin Hatch and Lindsey Graham with him.

  15. Let’s not give up the ship just yet, even if Kavanaugh is steamrolled through confirmation by McConnell, because I think infuriated women and millennials of all political stripes are going to vote shortly in such numbers (I hope) to erase Republican majorities in BOTH the House and Senate and, if so, just imagine what an impeachment petition in a Democratic House against “Justice” Kavanaugh and all the testimonies of witnesses called to support his removal from the high court will do to undo Mitch’s bulldozer antics by removing him from the bench as well as perhaps signaling the demise of the Republican Party.
    As I often write, the Republican Party is headed for Whigdom anyway, but this and their total abandonment of fiscal responsibility with their tax cuts for the superrich may well be enough to end their party as a party, one that sprang from the ashes of the Whig Party in 1854 and elected a president only six years later, one Abraham Lincoln who, along with Madison and Jefferson, must be revolving in their graves today at one million RPM and hoping that today’s Republican Party goes to its political grave before sending our democracy to its grave.
    The Republican Party of today has openly abandoned all pretense of representative governing in favor of giving money, power, and even the sovereignty of the people (as proclaimed by Lincoln) to the one percent, and with the coming backlash it may not be only the Republican Party that fails but also overreaching capitalism as we know it, all against a background of looming AI and the socio-economic disruptions sure to follow from such innovation, so it appears our “troubled times” are set to continue beyond the Trumps and McConnells, Kavanaughs et al. Interesting times. . .

  16. It seems clear that Trump’s need for a stay out of jail free card is paramount for Republicans now and therefore worth a major hit in this year’s elections to secure. What does that mean in terms of what they think about Mueller’s investigations findings?

    Mitch is is pretending it’s about qualifications to be a SCOTUS Justice but he’s already established through the Merrick Garland affair that the only qualification to him is partisanship.

    To stick us with this political hack he needs every single Republican Senator to align with party over country. Every. Single. One.

    So even to those who believe that men are not accountable for their treatment of women there is plenty of other authoritarian BS demonstrated here.

  17. As a civil libertarian, Sheila, I can’t imagine you condone political opponents going after people based on something that supposedly happened 35 y ears ago and forcing the accused into a position of having to prove his innocence, i.e. prove a negative. Statute of limitations in criminal and civil cases exist for a reason.

  18. I am also deeply offended by those who insist a woman never falsely accuse men of such wrongdoing. In my time as an attorney, I have seen plenty of cases where they do in fact lie sometimes to gain leverage in a case, sometimes for no apparent reason at all. If people don’t think men are ever falsely accused by a woman, they might try talking to some Duke lacrosse players about their experience. Those false accusations have followed those men for the rest of their lives.

  19. Paul:
    Point one:This isn’t a criminal trial. He’s being vetted for an important position. And given the women coming out of the woodwork, I’d say the original vetting wasn’t very good. This clearly wasn’t one isolated instance.

    Point two:I’m not claiming there are no false accusations. But it appears that all three of these women have shared their experiences with others years ago. And all of them have called for an independent, 3d party investigation.

  20. Paul, this is not a criminal case and does not involve proof of a negative. No presumption of innocence obtains and no negative is involved. The burden of proof of fitness for office rests with the party seeking such office and the burden of proving fitness rests with such seeker.

    Of course I have had women as well as men lie in cases; it’s a bipartisan and bigender exercise, but I have never had one either as a prosecutor or defense counsel where the man or woman claimed to be lying invites the FBI to check him or her out while the prospective defendant wants nothing to do with a factual investigation. Never, as here.

  21. Remember, the Constitution is a political document crafted by politicians. SCOTUS is a political body interpretting the Constitution. Therfore, the goal is to get judges who have political views that accords with yours appointed to the Court. Even before these accusations became public I completely opposed this nominee because he will interpret the Constitution on behalf on the rich and powerful when it can and should be interpreted on behalf of the plain, ordinary people. The Constitution is what the Supreme Court says it is.

  22. Then there is this. Who on earth in the Whitehouse is so far out of touch with reality that they believed that Trump could tell a huge collections of global professional diplomats that he’s done more for the US that most Presidents without generating a huge laugh among them? That’s almost unworldly beyond comprehension.

  23. We have to address the forgotten issue: the generational issue. Trump and his ilk are from far flung time from the issues we see raised by the millennials so-called and yet it is prevalent in all degrees coming on through to our time. Evil is evil and it doesn’t change – how we handle it MUST. And to abet and abide is just as criminal. Perhaps we should legalize sterilization of predators or perhaps = castration. Too savage. Not at all; it can be done chemically. And why not? This is something that is a direct threat to our very future as a species of sentients. And it is time it was dealt with as harshly as possible. “Wreck his life…!” yeah right – but you are wrecking a lot of young women’s lives in your ignorance and allowing Orin Hatch! How dare such mentality exist among people who call themselves ‘civilized’ and then there is fuckface von klownschtick… don’t get me started!…

  24. When I was young I believe that it was very common knowledge that the Supreme Court actually consisted of the most accomplished jurists in the Federal Court system and their work was completely free of partisanship because it was based on the Constitution that was completely free of everything but a contract between all of we the people and those who we hire (and fire) to govern us accordingly.

    It’s nearly impossible for me to believe that in one lifetime we have gone from that exemplary standard to the clown circus we have now that is so far from the meaning of the Constitution as to be unrecognizable by it.

  25. Paul K. Ogden; being molested at age 5 by 2 teenage boys still causes flashbacks for me at age 81. My rape at age 16 by a Tech football player I had only met hours earlier is fresh in my mind after 64 years. The pain, fear, confusion, trying to act normal and feeling shame – we aren’t the ones to be ashamed but still we feel a deep shame that we somehow caused the rape is always somewhere in our thoughts. I am sure those teenage boys and the Tech football player from 64 years ago forgot within a few days or weeks what they had done…or relived it by retelling it to friends and they all got a good laugh. You are simply another Republican who has lost the humanitarian base once a major part of the Republican party. Protect the men at all cost. I can’t help but wonder if your wife, sister, daughter…or even possibly your mother…was sexually harassed, abused or raped but know better than to seek understanding, help or acceptance from you any more than they would from Kavanaugh or Trump.

  26. The rise of the Tea Party and now the Party of Trump have completely abandoned any and all efforts to be inclusive, culturally sensitive, or socially aware of anyone but their narrow minded discrimotary selves.

  27. Just watched the documentary “Miss Information” released about 6+years ago and currently available at Indy Public Library, or the OWN (Oprah Winfrey Documentary Club), all about how media treats women and their images….it seems especially pertinent and applicable to this time in our experience. I highly recommend it.

  28. God Bless Pete again today for his inspiring expressions of pissed-offedness.
    It’s clear how Pete and I are going to vote – can’t wait for Election Day.
    Conversely, Todd Smekens seems to be unsure about progressivism and what he calls “faux progressive”.
    Todd, is loss of peaceful sleep making you cranky?

  29. Sex is such a powerful force in life due to its mixture of hormones and risk that all of us, both genders, probably have some skeletons as well as mixed signals in our closets. The miracle is that so many survive teenagedom and end up close enough to functional. But we do.

    Kavanaugh disappoints not because he was once a teenager but because he denies being one as well as he denies being someplace between hurtful and criminal as a teenager.

    He suffers the same grandiosity as who nominated him and who is shepherding Senate 100% partisan ratification.

    It’s long past time to fire if not prosecute all of the players in replacing democracy with oligarchy. As has been detailed in numerous fictional and nonfictional accounts, screw the aristocrats. They are only grand in their own minds,.

  30. Clearly there’s only one unresolvable issue with Kavanaugh and that’s Mitch’s need to ratify the appointment before an honest Republican Senator shows up.

  31. First, what does the FBI actually do in regards to investigating these Court applicants?
    How thorough are they and how long do they take? It would be interesting to know the criteria they use.
    Today I listened to Kavanaugh’s attorney give a heart felt rendering of ‘he says he just didn’t do these things” along with the assertion that many people (including many women) are vehement in their agreement of his innocence. This attorney was so convincing and I could tell she truly believed this man. As do many others.
    The attorney also asked why didn’t this behavior (drunken parties, etc.) in the schools come to light before now? A logical but somewhat naive question on her part.
    One answer I have for her is that in those days this behavior was pretty much common in many schools. Many of us knew that there were factions of students that behaved badly in all school settings and much of it was kept quiet. If some of the students from some of the ‘best’ families were involved in situations like these it was typical for those students to be exempt from any kind of disciplinary actions. This stuff goes on now. I mean how long ago were we hearing of the problems women were having in our armed forces? This behavior is still going on and to pretend that it didn’t happen 30 years ago is just ridiculous and self serving.
    Next, regardless of political affiliation, why is there not a resounding demand for an investigation into these matters?
    Unfortunately it seems logic and reason do not prevail when people are so divided.
    What I see here is the can of worms that has been opened by this so called president. Obviously this can of worms (of hatred and intolerance) has been sitting and festering for a long time just waiting for the right time and place to explode, and explode it has.
    What will it take for us to learn to compromise or will we ever be able to?
    Voting blue may help some but how do you put the genie back in the bottle?
    I am so sorry to hear that in some areas of both Texas and Florida the behavior is so extreme, but it seems there are pockets of that everywhere in the good old USA. I guess this is who we really are. Hopefully these pockets are small.
    Does a booming economy obliterate everything else a country is supposed to stand for or is this insanity simply the measurement of how much we hate each other?
    We are a terrible mess.

  32. And: yeah, i’m on a roll..
    Gerald Stinson i hope you are right. You see people like me are not aware of all the ins and outs of how things work. However, the way things are going who’s to say anything that’s supposed to work may not. This administration has gotten away with an awful lot so just getting the majority no longer gives me the hope it used to.
    But again, you have a point.

  33. Re: That solo press conference today

    Mr. President, the psychiatric hospital called. Your suite is ready.

  34. Re: That solo press conference today

    Mr. President, the psychiatric hospital just called. Your suite is ready.

  35. The Conservative:

    News flash: MaryJo Kopechne was a tragedy; Ted Kennedy is long dead–and Kennedy never sought a lifetime appointment. He was always responsible to, and elected by the voters. Whether you understand that or not it is a BIG difference.

    Merely saying someone else is wrong is not a satisfactory defense for Kavanaugh. He must be held responsible for his own actions; Not Kennedy’s, not Clinton’s–not even Trump’s.

  36. But…Ted Kennedy was one of those on the Senate committee questioning Anita Hill about Clarence Thomas during the time he was drinking and carousing and was also a character witness at his nephew’s rape trial…all while Mary Jo Kopechne’s “different tragedy” was still fresh in our minds. I had the same thought and made the same connection to the current Kavanaugh fiasco watching the rebroadcast of the questioning of Anita Hill. Another “fox guarding the henhouse” situation.

  37. @Paul K Ogden

    I am deeply offended by all that see themselves and/or their sons in Kavanaugh, choosing “himpathy”, and would rather defend Kavanaugh no matter what. Kavanaugh is not you. Kavanaugh is not your sons. Kavanaugh is not the Duke Lacrosse players either. New York Times has a great article titled “Brett Kavanaugh and America’s Himpathy”, where people have a misplaced empathy for people that remind them of themselves.

    When you pick a nomination that frankly comes across morally questionable to begin with, and when you don’t follow the normal vetting process for nominations, this is a possible strong outcome. Kavanaugh has had much success, but success doesn’t equal moral integrity or character.

    For those especially that see their sons in Kavanaugh, and fear that the reputation of their sons could easily be destroyed by false accusations… Kavanaugh is not your son. Kavanaugh is not an otherwise honorable man. The red flags of bad boy behavior and questionable ethics were out there, he just received the privilege until now. Don’t compare your sons to Kavanaugh, your sons deserve better.

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