Kavanaugh’s high school yearbook: A textbook case of toxic masculinity

This is awful:

Brett Kavanaugh’s page in his high school yearbook offers a glimpse of the teenage years of the man who is now President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee: lots of football, plenty of drinking, parties at the beach. Among the reminiscences about sports and booze is a mysterious entry: “Renate Alumnius.”

The word “Renate” appears at least 14 times in Georgetown Preparatory School’s 1983 yearbook, on individuals’ pages and in a group photo of nine football players, including Judge Kavanaugh, who were described as the “Renate Alumni.” It is a reference to Renate Schroeder, then a student at a nearby Catholic girls’ school.

Two of Judge Kavanaugh’s classmates say the mentions of Renate were part of the football players’ unsubstantiated boasting about their conquests.

(Snip)

“I learned about these yearbook pages only a few days ago,” Ms. Dolphin said in a statement to The New York Times. “I don’t know what ‘Renate Alumnus’ actually means. I can’t begin to comprehend what goes through the minds of 17-year-old boys who write such things, but the insinuation is horrible, hurtful and simply untrue. I pray their daughters are never treated this way. I will have no further comment.”

I don’t know whether Kavanaugh is guilty or innocent of the sexual improprieties he is accused of. But I do know that this NYT story about his yearbook could be Exhibit A in a presentation of What We Mean When We Talk About Toxic Masculinity.

Listen to this:

Some of Judge Kavanaugh’s high school peers said there was a widespread culture at the time of objectifying women.

“People claiming that they had sex with other people was not terribly unusual, and it was not terribly believable,” said William Fishburne, who was in Judge Kavanaugh’s graduating class and was a manager for the football team. “Not just Brett Kavanaugh and his particular group, but all the classmates in general. People would claim things they hadn’t done to sort of seem bigger than they were, older than they were.”

I don’t think this is unusual. The “boys will be boys” defense practically writes itself. But that’s why it’s a problem! Letting a young woman’s name be sullied for decades on the pages of a yearbook, preserved for all history, for the sake of a joke and boasting? Gross and wrong.

 

This piece is cross-posted at joelmathis.blogspot.com.

Author: joeldermole

Joel Mathis is a freelance writer who lives in Lawrence, Kansas with his wife and son. He spent nine years as a syndicated columnist, co-writing the RedBlueAmerica column as the liberal half of a point-counterpoint duo. His honors include awards for best online commentary from the Online News Association and (twice) from the City and Regional Magazine Association.

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