Brett Kavanaugh and Gynophobia

The same people who want to control the womb are very often the same people who don’t really have a problem with men forcing themselves on women (unless it’s his woman) – indeed, who are likely to be the men who force themselves on women. Kavanaugh represents what they’re about: the boy’s club. Their motto: “Boys will be boys.” They desperately want #MeToo to go away because they know that, while fear is contagious, so is courage, and Kavanaugh is their magic boy to stick it to all the sexual assault victims coming forward – perhaps before their own pasts are exposed.

What are they so afraid of? Women. They’re terrified of women. This is why they treat the accusations as if they amount to witch hysteria. What lies at the heart of the freakout is gynophobia, a deep and pathological fear and loathing of women. Eve gave Adam the forbidden fruit. The woman conspired with the serpent to deceive the man, the first human, to ruin paradise. But for her, he’d be pure and living at the foothills of Heaven. Women have a penchant for falsely accusing men of rape; their souls manufactured below, women use sex as a weapon. They are the corrupters of men. Their sexuality must be controlled and regulated for Heaven’s sake. When it comes to matters of the flesh, men are weak and manipulable. They can’t help themselves. Such is the lure of the siren. Men are the true victims – the victims of manifestations of Cathy Ames of John Steinbeck’s East of Eden. Psychic monsters with malformed souls.

Projection is at the core of the Abrahamic traditions. When the abusive father is having his authority questioned there is a crisis. This is contempt of natural power – the natural order of things! So desperate are the boys to preserve the patriarchy – and so many stand alongside them rationalizing it all the way, including the girls – that they can deny with a straight and angry face the truth of what compassionate and empathic observers can plainly see.

And then there is this: the keg and quaalude cohort was large in the early 1980s. They reflect on their Kavanaugh pasts, the red cup and PGA punch world they still high five over, and think “That was rape?” There is a large reserve of organic support for Brett. If he was wrong, then they were wrong. All those nights they don’t remember. It’s a lot more satisfying to sit back and think, “I could have sat on the Supreme Court.” Bart absolves them of their sins – if they were to suppose that that’s what they are. 

This is why feminism is still relevant: it is the frame that demystifies the power of the father – the power that makes boys special.

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Andrew Austin

Andrew Austin is on the faculty of Democracy and Justice Studies and Sociology at the University of Wisconsin—Green Bay. He has published numerous articles, essays, and reviews in books, encyclopedia, journals, and newspapers.

2 thoughts on “Brett Kavanaugh and Gynophobia”

  1. I think the Me Too thing falls more in line with your arguments about moral panic. I think Kavanaugh deserved better than the way he was treated.

    1. Yes, that is how I would characterize it now. Frankly, I find this essay strange in the sense that I don’t remember at that time feeling about the matter in such a way that would cause me to put it in the manner that I did. Moreover, my view on the burden of proof should not have found me so strident on the matter. I may go back and attach a note criticizing the points I made in that blog. I agree that Kavanaugh was treated unfairly.

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