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On entitlement and Brett Kavanaugh

July 8, 2021

Reposted from a September 28, 2018, answer on Quora. I have deleted my account there due to harassment, and will be reposting some of my favourite content here.

Originally answered: “Judge Kavanaugh made a fiery and emotional statement today, do you view his emotions as righteous anger of one who feels he is being unjustly treated, or the lashing out of an entitled man who has been cornered?”

Why can’t it be both? The very definition of entitlement is thinking that certain things (a Supreme Court seat, women, the ability to do what you want with no consequences) are rightfully yours. If your access to those things is taken away or even threatened, you will feel righteous anger. But feeling righteous anger doesn’t mean you are right, or that those things do in fact belong to you.

I tried to watch Kavanaugh’s opening statement, but I couldn’t make it more than 90 seconds in. Kavanaugh was, to the very last detail, my ex the last time I saw him. The facial expressions, the tone of voice, the way he held his body—the petulant little-boy stance of having what is rightfully his (in my case: ongoing access to me and others, my continued economic support no matter how he treated me, control of the narrative, the right to define my feelings and motivations, my silence) threatened, the complete obliviousness to (and lack of concern for) the effects of his actions on other people, the conspiracy theories, the wounded entitlement.

I remember seeing those things in my ex and simultaneously feeling viscerally afraid of him and so incredibly sad for him, seeing him in absolutely real pain and still feeling a pull to reach out and try to take care of him, make his pain go away, even while he was hurting me. And the sad thing is that I know he has women doing that for him—just as I know Brett Kavanaugh’s wife tells him every night that he’s a good man, and that he is the real victim here. I was one of those women, once.

I guarantee you that last night, Brett Kavanaugh went home and cried, and a woman held him and told him he’s a good guy. And he told her no one understands him like she does.

Brett Kavanaugh knows what he did. He knows that he drugged women, that he raped women, that he harassed and assaulted women. And yet he sits there, with full knowledge of these things, and entirely believes that he is the real victim. That whatever he did, it wasn’t that bad. That facing the consequences of his actions is every bit as harmful to him as his actions were to others—or just that that harm matters more. He matters more. Because ultimately, the women he harmed aren’t as real as he is. He’s the star character, and the rest of us are supporting cast, and simply by having our own stories, we’ve gone off script.

And I recognize this—more intimately than wish I ever had to. And I know that no matter how many women come forward, no matter what the evidence, he will never see. He will never take responsibility. He will never believe that he is not the real victim.

P.S. I just want to point out that Brett Kavanaugh “made a fiery and emotional statement,” while a couple of weeks ago, Serena Williams had “an angry meltdown.” And maybe, just maybe, that difference has something to do with why Kavanaugh believes the things he does, and has been able to get away with what he’s gotten away with for so long.

Caricature of Brett Kavanaugh by DonkeyHotey on Flickr, used under a CC BY 2.0 licence.

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