Women who supported the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh have been ripped on the left as brainwashed, shameful, privilege-defending gender traitors, and it’s starting to annoy them.
Anti-Kavanaugh activists saved their most virulent post-confirmation screeds for women who refused to condemn Justice Kavanaugh — especially the white ones — another indication of the resistance’s growing irritation with centrist and conservative women putting due process over feminist solidarity.
“I find the idea that ‘as a woman’ I must think a certain way extremely patronizing,” said Allie Stuckey, host of CRTV’s “Relatable.” “If these so-called feminists really believed in female empowerment, they’d be encouraging women to think with their brains rather than their anatomy.”
Rants against “white women,” “stupid Stepford wives,” “gender traitors,” and “brainwashed women” erupted on social media after the confirmation, as well as references to the 53 percent, the oft-cited percentage of white U.S. women who voted for President Trump.
To Ms. Stuckey, the barrage looks a lot like bullying. “People don’t like to be bullied for their beliefs by people who claim that our gender, socioeconomic status, race, etc., must determine our opinions,” she said.
The intragender tangling hit the mainstream with a weekend op-ed in the New York Times by public-relations consultant Alexis Grenell headlined, “White Women, Come Get Your People,” which unloaded on Justice Kavanaugh’s female supporters.
“These women are gender traitors, to borrow a term from the dystopian TV series ‘The Handmaid’s Tale,’” said Ms. Grenell in the article. “They’ve made standing by the patriarchy a full-time job.”
The broadside drew a mix of disbelief, outrage and chortling on the right. “I always love being a traitor to my gender,” quipped right-of-center activist Laura Carno, who heads I Am Created Equal.
She dismissed the idea that women must fall in political lockstep based on their gender.
“I think when reporters and columnists say things like that — women are traitors to their genders — I think it’s very disrespectful to women who actually think through things like the future of our country fairly deeply,” said Ms. Carno, author of “Government Ruins Nearly Everything” (2016).
Joni Inman, director of the right-tilting Colorado Women’s Alliance, said many women who refused to denounce Justice Kavanaugh did so over concerns about placing the burden on him to prove his innocence on a sexual-assault allegation dating back to his teen years.
“I would hope that women would not see this as a judgment of his guilt or innocence because none of us were there,” said Ms. Inman. “But I think what you see with the women in support, I think it’s more of a support for due process. There’s some confusion about believing him versus support for due process in this country.”
Activists have made “believe the women” a rallying cry, even as others have pointed to cases where sexual-misconduct allegations made by women were either withdrawn or disproved.
“You look at things like the Duke lacrosse case — those boys were brutalized in the press, and then she [the accuser] comes back later and says, ‘I was not telling the truth,’” said Ms. Carno. “So when we say ‘believe women,’ that might indicate to somebody that there has never been a woman who either lied or had a different memory of what actually happened decades ago.”
While the #MeToo movement has taken to task dozens of prominent men for sexual misconduct, the Kavanaugh episode has reinforced the fears of women worried that their husbands, sons and fathers could be ruined by unproven allegations.
First Lady Melania Trump weighed in on the #MeToo movement during her goodwill trip to Kenya, saying that women who make sexual-misconduct allegations “need to be heard” and supported, but that there must be “really hard evidence.”
“I support the women and they need to be heard. We need to support them. And, you know, also men, not just women,” said Mrs. Trump in an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” as reported by the Associated Press.
Even though #MeToo has heightened awareness, a Colorado Women’s Alliance survey of 2,000 female swing voters found that only one percent listed sexual harassment as a top issue, well behind rising healthcare costs, education, jobs and affordable housing.
Slamming pro-Kavanaugh women may rouse the base, but right-of-center women are unlikely to be won over by those who call them traitors.
“I never think that calling somebody a name or trying to bully them into a position is effective,” said Ms. Inman. “And that in fact is an attempt at bullying women who were not opposed to his appointment into changing their position.”
What about singling out white women for derision? “I think that’s absolutely irrelevant to the discussion,” said Ms. Inman.
Amy Siskind, president of The New Agenda, tweeted that the Kavanaugh nomination actually moved women to the Democratic Party, saying the issue was “the final straw.”
She cited a CNN poll released Tuesday that showed 63 percent of registered women voters said they would vote for Democrats in November.
On the other side, Republicans have pointed to polls showing that their voters, including women, have been energized by Justice Kavanaugh’s treatment at the hands of Senate Democrats and protesters. Ms. Stuckey said she’s seen it with her friends.
“I can’t speak on behalf of conservative women, but the dozens of conservative women who have reached out to me have told me they are more worked up over this Kavanaugh madness than they have over any political issue in their lives.,” said Ms. Stuckey.
She said that in Justice Kavanaugh, “we saw our brothers, husbands, dads, friends and sons, and we’re determined not to live in a world in which good men are ruined by unsubstantiated allegations … They’ll see us at the polls.”
Ms. Carno had a request for anti-Kavanaugh groups taking to the streets and shaming conservative women: Don’t stop.
“I have yet to hear someone say, ‘Oh, my gosh, they’re totally right. Look at them banging on the doors of the Supreme Court,’” said Ms. Carno. “So I do want them to keep doing this. I think it says to ordinary voters who don’t pay a ton of attention to politics, ‘What are these crazy people doing over here?’”
• The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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