Getty ImagesThe Washington Post
The period that President Trump described as “a scary time to be a man” concluded today after after most Senate Republicans, including Susan Collins of Maine and Jeff Flake of A State of Perpetual Indecision, and one Senate Democrat, Joe Manchin, declared their intentions to vote for Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation, effectively ensuring that he will become a Supreme Court Justice.
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The Scary Time for Men, a period that most scientists agree can only be seen in gaslight, ended almost as soon as it was declared. Lengthwise, it lasted one half of an FBI investigation or 0.1 Scaramooches.
As a closing ceremony for The Scary Time for Men, Senator Collins took to the Senate floor and held the nation hostage for over 45 minutes as she exhorted someone (presumably not her) to believe survivors of sexual assault, posed questions about Dr. Ford’s testimony (that could have been cleared up by an actual FBI investigation), and ultimately announced that she would vote Yes on Kavanaugh.
And just like that The Scary Time was over, almost as if it had never begun. Collins, a barely disguised shadow of her state’s governor, the execrable Paul LePage, has deservedly received a lot of ire on social media for her cynically contradictory pro-woman stance, but it’s important to remember that there are presumably 48 other Republican Senators and one Democrat—who, despite being up for reelection, has basically given the middle finger to the state of West Virginia—that share the blame for this miscarriage of justice, to coin a phrase.
On Tuesday, President Trump told reporters “it’s a scary time for young men in America.” It may surprise you (it will not surprise you) to know that he was not talking about young men of color, like Chicago’s Laquan McDonald, who was shot 16 times while walking away from a police officer. President Trump was also not talking about gay, queer, or transmen in America, like the New Jersey gay couple who were beaten until they were unconscious outside of a Brooklyn gay bar. President Trump was also not talking about men who fear that the open misogyny and antagonism that this country’s leaders have shown and continue to show will lead to the destruction of the democracy. Men who despair over how to raise children in this environment. Men who seek to be feminist allies and accomplices. No, The Scary Time for Men that the President declared with a complete lack of supporting evidence was related to straight, presumably white, men who are falsely accused of sexual assault. According to sociologist Joanne Belknap, that population makes up 0.05 percent of all rapes.
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The President, and many Republican leaders often tout themselves as champions of the underdogs or the forgotten people; perhaps this five tenths of a percent is included in that number. And, to be clear, no one should live in fear in this country. But the reality is that for Men, particularly Straight, White Men, this has not been a Scary Time. The President made sure of it.
Donald Trump, an inveterate liar who weaponizes the language of victimization, is adept at telling his acolytes, particularly the men who follow him, that they are being attacked and targeted, despite all evidence to the contrary. Republican leaders like Chuck Grassley and Lindsey Graham have picked up the narrative. Most notably, Graham recently whined “I know I’m a single white man from South Carolina and I’ve been told to shut up but I will not shut up,” inventing out of a whole cloth a universe wherein a Republican Senator who has served the state of South Carolina in various elected offices since 1993 is in some way being persecuted. These men are trying to co-opt the language of resistance. They are trying to use the tactics that oppressed people—women, in particular—use to liberate themselves. They declare that this is a Scary Time for them in an attempt to claim a monopoly on fear and inure themselves from criticism, even as they build a culture that incites terror in the lives and on the bodies of women and other oppressed people.
If a Scary Time for Men existed at all, it was only deep in the minds of these craven leaders, in the small space that they allow themselves to acknowledge the reality that, though they legislate against it, the destiny of this nation is against them. These men who would rather destroy themselves and the country they claim to love than cede space to others or listen to women. These misogynists and bigots who cling to a world that is already dead, who seek salvation not by spreading new life but more death. Indeed, when they are alone with their beliefs and the full weight of their actions, the world that these men have built for themselves must seem quite scary. May they never find comfort.