October 7, 2018

I've been thinking a lot about this since Kavanaugh's overwrought performance at the hearings a week ago: Who gets to be angry?

If Christine Blasey Ford had come in snorting and raging, challenging senators in her testimony, would that have made her more compelling? Of course not. Women aren't allowed to be emotional in public settings without it diminishing whatever they say. Emotionality makes their statements suspect.

What if the accuser was a Person of Color or LGBT? Could they have snarled their way through this process? Please.

It took me too long to realize that the people most inclined to say “You sound angry” are the same people who uniformly don’t care to ask “Why?” They’re interested in silence, not dialogue. This response to women expressing anger happens on larger and larger scales: in schools, places of worship, the workplace, and politics.

A society that does not respect women’s anger is one that does not respect women, not as human beings, thinkers, knowers, active participants, or citizens. Women around the world are clearly angry and acting on that emotion. That means, inevitably, that a backlash is in full swing, most typically among “moderates” who are fond of disparaging angry women as dangerous and unhinged. It is easier to criticize the angry women than to ask the questions “What is making you so angry?” and “What can we do about it?” — the answers to which have disruptive and revolutionary implications.

But anger in a man is instantly validating his righteousness. Kavanaugh's anger, as carefully stagecrafted by Don McGahn as it was, emboldened the Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee to dump their human shield in Rachel Mitchell and turn the hearing into praise for the poor, victimized white males.

The Journal’s report seems to confirm a separate account of the backstory behind Kavanaugh’s testimony. According to CNN, it was President Donald Trump (no stranger to allegations of sexual assault, or shouting incoherently himself) who told Kavanaugh to “be aggressive and forceful in your denials. Don’t be afraid to push back on these allegations” in a phone call with the nominee while Kavanaugh waited his turn to testify.

Despite coming off like coddled baby throwing his first big-boy tantrum, Kavanaugh’s rage-fueled testimony may ultimately salvage his nomination. Following his appearance before the Judiciary Committee, Republican senators began circling the wagons around their nominee by latching onto his extremely “angry white guy” shtick in their full throated defense of him. That’s how this should work, right?

No, it shouldn't work that way.

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