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On Catholic Boys, Kavanaugh, Women, and Belief

It seems to me now, the way men perceive women is how they perceive life itself.

The Georgetown Prep Basketball team. Brett Kavanaugh is second from left in the front row. (Photo: Kevin Dowd)

Having been one, and having been exposed to Catholic 17 year old young men in Our Lady of Lourdes high school, Dr. Ford’s account sounds accurate. As a writer, I was preternaturally inclined toward observing. Also, having been raised with two dynamic sisters I found myself, even then, horrified at the way 17 year old Catholic young men, who were given religious instruction every day, would talk about “girls.”

A vivid memory I have was at a senior high dance. In the “boys” room Mike G. was at the urinal and he extended his middle finger for his pal Doug S. to smell, letting his pal know that he had just fingered a girl. Doug S. was awestruck - “Oh Man!” (Much like Billy Bush was enthralled with the way Trump talked about women.) 
 
I thought about the girl - I thought about my sisters. I thought, did this girl like Mike G. - did she trust him? For Mike G., as far as I could tell then, the girl was simply a proving ground; a kind of merit badge to proclaim manhood of a certain kind to a supplicant. 
 
In retrospect, I wonder how much religious training helped to shape young men’s views of sex. I also observe now, culturally, what women mean to men. It seems to me now, the way men perceive women is how they perceive life itself. Is “grab” a guiding and noble approach to women - or life?
 
At 17, I would hear Catholic boys/young men, talk about girls and grade their looks - their breasts - how easy they were. This somehow, as far as I could tell then, secured a level of masculinity in the eyes of cohorts. Catholic boys were often at a disadvantage in the wider urban, secular universe and felt, by the time they reached the age of 17,  they had more to prove. And sometimes they needed booze to cancel out the religious scruples that might interfere with their plan of attack.
 
Culturally, at the time, and I’m not sure how much has really changed, girls were meant to submit. As far as I could tell, this was the thinking: "Men need to dominate and girls want them to dominate and if you don’t show your natural ability to dominate, no girl will want anything to do with you." Protests to the contrary from a girl was just a posture to be overcome by the young man. As we’ve seen in movie after movie a man will grab a woman, kiss her, she resists, he persists - she slaps him - he kisses again - she pushes but finally her arms relax around him and then she is pulling him into her and returning fiercely his kisses. "She just needs to resist to be respectable but really….."
 
Putting his hand over her mouth, as described by Dr. Ford, sounds likely. You’re here for one reason only - to be used as a marker of emerging “manhood.” You barely exist. You’re here so my pal, Judge, can see what I’ve got. I’m doing this for him actually, the way Mike G. needed to demonstrate something to Doug S. about his capabilities by letting him get a whiff of his conquest.
 
The actual truth of the event that has been planted in our mind’s eye this past week may or may not be provable, but from my observations on the front line, it is believable.

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Bill C. Davis

Bill C. Davis

Bill C. Davis is a playwright.  Archive of his Common Dreams' articles here. His personal website here.

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