Slut-shaming has come to Congress.

As if President Trump’s rant at his Tuesday rally turning Christine Blasey Ford’s trauma into an anti-woman attack issue weren’t enough, on the same day the men responsible for advancing Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh’s nomination released an unvetted letter supposedly describing the sexual proclivities of one of the would-be Supreme Court justice’s accusers.

Julie Swetnick has accused Kavanaugh of misconduct toward women during his high school years and said he was present at a party where she was gang-raped. Kavanaugh has vehemently denied the allegations.

Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee, it appears, think it is acceptable to disseminate explicit details about a civilian’s most intimate activities across the country without even the pretense of confirming them. They also seem to think it’s appropriate to vilify a self-identified victim of sexual assault based on the allegation that she enjoys intercourse with multiple men.

If you consent to behavior that these sexa-, septua- and octogenarian guardians of our democracy deem scandalous, their gambit seems to suggest, you can’t possibly have been abused. After all, what wouldn’t you have consented to?

This is grimly familiar as a fact of day-to-day life for women well aware that their believability hinges on their conforming to a stereotype of perfect femininity. Ford, as many pointed out the day of her hearing, was an ideal witness because she appeared so innocent she was almost girlish. Had she instead seemed the type to, as men love to say, “put herself in that situation,” game over.

The tale of the too-promiscuous woman is a recurring theme in the Kavanaugh confirmation fight. After all, we’ve seen slut-shaming before: among Kavanaugh’s much-discussed circle of friends at Georgetown Prep.

The same day the GOP decided to slime Swetnick, a New York Times article offered a closer look at the self-proclaimed “loud, obnoxious drunks with prolific pukers among us” who surrounded Kavanaugh on all those calendar-documented summer nights.

Listen to broadcast journalist Connie Chung read a letter to Christine Blasey Ford, acknowledging publicly for the first time that she was sexually abused. (Kate Woodsome, Danielle Kunitz/The Washington Post)

Mark Judge, who Ford says was with Kavanaugh when Kavanaugh tried to tear her clothes off, wrote an underground newspaper at Georgetown Prep called the Unknown Hoya. A column in the publication proclaimed that Holton-Arms School, the all-girls school that Ford attended, was “home of the most worthless excuses for human females.” After all, according to the author, the only thing it took “to have a good time with any H.H. (Holton Hosebag)” was a library card. It was in this same environment that teenagers, including Kavanaugh, counted themselves proud “Renate Alumni.”

This almost gleeful misogyny is exactly what allows men, young and old, to justify abusing many women, or dismissing them when they say they’ve been abused: This is as much her fault as mine. She wanted it. It’s also the same thinking that may have motivated senators to try to discredit Swetnick on the grounds that she fit some centuries-old conception of a “loose woman.”

The direct line of slut-shaming from Kavanaugh and his classmates to the Republicans protecting him now is painful to observe. It’s devastating to see elected officials who are supposed to uphold the integrity of our institutions showcase how lacking they are in integrity of their own. It’s more devastating still to see that bad boys can stroll right down the path to power with the help of already powerful men who think just like they do. The Unknown Hoya, the school that housed it and the other elite institutions that incubate the entitled are all training grounds to sit at that Senate dais.

The outcome of the Kavanaugh confirmation fight will either keep the path of entitlement clear as ever or, finally, throw something in the way. If boys who behave badly are forever shepherded to success by men who behave badly, the cycle will only continue, and slut-shamers will continue to fill congressional chambers and courtrooms across America along with assaulters and harassers and men who have not hurt anyone but do not care if someone else does.

Kavanaugh’s defense in his testimony was, in large part, that he occupies a privileged position in society. He went to Yale College, and then Yale Law School, and then he had a prominent perch in the White House and on an appeals court. The implication is that only a man who had behaved honorably could have earned such laurels. But if the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that the dishonorable are often as decorated as the do-rights.

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