September 30, 2018

What’s a wife to do when her husband is accused of sexual assault?

This column may contain strong language, sexual content, adult humor, and other themes that may not be suitable for minors. Parental guidance is strongly advised.

As US Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh unravelled on live TV—and what a fascinating, if shrill and painful display of utter arrogance, stupidity, self-righteousness so typical of white male privilege in its death throes—I couldn’t help but wonder if this was the moment the penny dropped for his wife, Ashley, that her husband was a total f*cking asshole who probably did assault Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. Or had she, on some level, always known?

After Dr. Ford’s compelling and credible testimony, I had expected that Kavanaugh would be smart enough to at least pretend that he wasn’t an entitled jerk. But then again, jerks can’t help themselves, and he came out roaring and sniveling and ranting with the suicidal zeal of a Japanese soldier getting ready to commit hara-kiri. Turns out, Brett Kavanaugh was far more concerned about self-preservation (and the preservation of the white male patriarchy) than truth or justice, because it was all about him. And clearly, he’s not very smart; if he were, he would have seen past his own how-dare-she outrage and used a different tactic.

Instead, he decided to take a page from the playbook of King Jerk himself, Donald Trump, he of the small hands and mushroom d*ck, whose ego is so fragile, whose intellect is so wanting, and whose alpha maleness is so threatened that he needs to assert his imagined superiority at every opportunity.

So out came Cowboy Brett armed for a final shoot-out at the OK Corral, guns blazing, indignation overflowing and belligerence on full display. The choirboy was replaced by the cowboy–and a drunk cowboy at that. He may not have been drunk on the beer he repeatedly mentioned he liked since his days as a keg-guzzling high school boy, till the present day, as a crybaby man-boy, but on the day of his Senate testimony, he was definitely drunk on outrage and entitlement.

And there was violence seething beneath the surface. It was apparent in his angry insistence that he did nothing wrong, yet refused to allow an independent FBI investigation of his accuser’s allegations. It was apparent in his sneering disregard for the Democratic senators who questioned him, especially the female senators. And it was apparent in the way his face twisted into ugly smirks and pure hatred. Even choirboys who claim to be spending all their time being number one in academics and athletics are just as capable of sexual assault.

And there was Ashley Kavanaugh behind him, watching her husband star in this spectacle of the unhinged. Another one of those stand-by-your-man wives, she tried to keep the expression on her face impassive, but there were moments of incredulity, horror and even sadness. While I can’t say what really went on in her mind as she listened to her husband fulminate with the self-righteous, at times tearful self-victimizing fury of a priest in the pulpit who turned out to be molesting young boys and girls behind the altar, I can imagine her thinking, Oh my God, who is this man I married?

Had her husband not been accused, I find it hard to believe she would not have been moved by Dr. Ford’s heart-wrenching testimony. Had her husband not been the accused, I find it hard to believe she would not have called for an FBI investigation. Had her husband not been the accused, I find it hard to believe that she would not have joined the ranks of other women demanding that the senators vote against his confirmation.

It made me wonder, too, if her husband had actually had one too many beers in the course of her marriage and attacked her. Not necessarily physically or sexually, but even verbally. Or perhaps he had blacked out instead. This man who claims to be respectful of all women–the model dad of two daughters, the kind coach to a girls’ school basketball team, the supportive friend to many female friends–did not hesitate to snarl in contempt when challenged by a female senator. So much for the chivalrous choirboy pretense.

Isn’t it ironic that women are often accused of being hysterical, emotional, shrill, unbalanced, weak and hormonal, and therefore unreliable and of little significance in the scheme of things, yet a man who is being considered for the highest court in the US acts, in one Senate hearing, just like a “woman”? And yet while his unhinged behavior clearly demonstrates that his temperament alone–never mind his alleged history of sexual assault as a young man–renders him unfit for the position to which he has been nominated.

And yet that is of little concern to the Republicans who continue to support Kavanaugh. Because they are all like Kavanaugh–entitled, privileged but endangered, and therefore dangerous.

The co-director of activist social change network, CREDO Action, Heidi Hess, described his behavior as such: “Right now, we are watching one white cisgender man fall apart on national television from the rage, terror and fear he is experiencing over the loss of his entitlement, privilege and lifetime free pass from accountability for his actions.

“This is a microcosm of how all the intertwined systems and people that maintain systemic misogyny and patriarchy are reacting to losing their power. We are going to win, but they are not going to let go without a fight.”

Another woman (@alwaystheself) put it more bluntly on Twitter: “Kavanaugh is not crying because he has any sense of remorse or because he empathizes with Dr. Ford.  He’s crying because his lifetime of male/elitist entitlement is being challenged. He’s crying because because the ugly truth about him and his behavior has been laid bare for all the world to see.”

And it is rather an unattractive sight. Pity poor Ashely Kavanaugh. She has to sleep beside him every night.

B. Wiser is the author of Making Love in Spanish, a novel published by Anvil Publishing and available in National Book Store and Powerbooks, as well as online. When not assuming her Sasha Fierce alter-ego, she takes on the role of serious journalist and media consultant. 

For comments and questions, e-mail

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of, or any other entity of the Inquirer Group of Companies.


Art by Marian Hukom

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Filed Under:

Ashley Kavanaugh, Brett Kavanaugh, culture, Donald Trump, patriarchy, Sex and Sensibility, women

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