Millions of male minds have been flipping through their hazy high school highlight reels all week.
Red Solo cups. The keg(s). Everclear and Kool-Aid. Quarters. Ping-pong balls. Bra straps. Boxers.
What’s the big deal? Teens do stupid things, especially when they’ve been drinking. But that doesn’t mean they’re sexual predators.
Pause your panic mode, Clearasil Cassanovas of yore. The sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh during a drunken teen party 37 years ago are not about putting you and every one of your awkward, young attempts at intimacy and sex on trial.
But a lot of men have reacted that way. Many of us have had to explain to our husbands or brothers or sons why this is different. Why this isn’t about them — at least not if they’re normal, decent, noncriminal humans.
Christine Blasey Ford described a night that started like many teen nights in the 1980s.
There were high school kids and alcohol in a house with no parents around. Lots of us went to parties like this. There were hookups — and sometimes there were boys pushing girls to go further than they wanted. It’s one thing to experiment. It’s another thing to use force.
Ford came forward after decades of silence because she says Kavanaugh tried to rape her when he was 17 and she was 15 — an accusation that Kavanaugh emphatically denies. Ford alleges that Kavanaugh groped her and tried to remove her one-piece bathing suit. Then, when she tried to scream for help, she claims he put his hand over her mouth to silence her.
“I thought he might inadvertently kill me,” Ford, now a 51-year-old research psychologist in northern California, told The Post’s Emma Brown.
This is not on the mental highlight reel most men are frantically combing. Nor is the moment Debbie Ramirez described to the New Yorker, accusing Kavanaugh of exposing himself at a party when they were freshman at Yale — a charge also denied by Kavanaugh as part of a coordinated smear campaign against him.
Ramirez acknowledges that she was drunk, and there are gaps in her memory. Ford also can’t remember some details as well, including the exact day and location of the party. But if it happened the way Ford alleges — being pushed into a room by Kavanaugh and another classmate, where they turned up the music and he covered her mouth to muffle her panic — this is where fumbling teen groping ended and abhorrent criminality began.
Attempted rape isn’t boys will be boys. Attempted rape is criminals will be criminals.
Here’s a simple test, guys. Did your efforts to make out or unhook a bra or lose your virginity ever get to the point where she fought and screamed and you put your hand over her mouth to shut her up so you could have your way?
If you did this, you’re a creep and a criminal. But I bet most of you didn’t.
Sexual assault — from keg parties to family gatherings to parking lots — still happens at an alarming rate. Some statistics say an assault happens every 98 seconds in the United States. Advocates say it is grossly underreported in high school. Even so, according to the National Violence Against Women Survey, 54 percent of the females surveyed were younger than 18 at the time they were raped.
But the culture has definitely changed, and not just because of #MeToo. Today’s teens are having sex and chugging booze a lot less than the teens of previous decades.
They are driving and getting jobs later than we did, too, said Jean Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University who is the author of “iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy — and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood.”
The portion who had tried alcohol plummeted from 93 percent between 1976 and 1979 to 67 percent between 2010 and 2016. Same for sex, where the portion of high school students who’d had sex fell from 54 percent in 1991 to 41 percent in 2015, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Our kids have a chance to have different lives than we did. But only if we help them do the right thing.
It is crucial that — along with telling kids that “no means no” and talking about consent — we burn to the ground the stale boys-will-be-boys, what-was-she-doing-at-the-party thinking. Stop justifying the behavior of predators. And stop blaming victims for being attacked.