Fabiola Santiago

What’s so hard to understand? Sexual assault is about domination, not love or sex.

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has denied allegations that he sexually assaulted a classmate while in high school.
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has denied allegations that he sexually assaulted a classmate while in high school. Getty Images

One of the Republican Cuban-American women from Miami defending Brett Kavanaugh on CNN said that she thinks his accuser had a crush on him in high school.

Lourdes Castillo de la Peña speculated with a straight face that, suffering from unrequited love, Christine Blasey Ford is now taking revenge on the Supreme Court nominee by alleging a sexual assault to torpedo his Senate approval.

It’s pure fiction, a classic bad-girl plot straight out of the nightly telenovelas, but it shows the tremendous ignorance about what sexual abuse entails, even among women with enough intelligence to be active in politics. Castillo de la Peña is a Miami-Dade coordinator for Republican Ron DeSantis’ campaign for governor of Florida.

The nominee himself, in his extraordinary interview with Fox News on Monday, also seemed very confused about what’s happening to him.

He, too, discussed the serious allegations of sexual assault against him in the context of his sexual history. But I was a virgin then, he said on his own behalf.

Neither I, nor the senators voting on his confirmation, nor the nation needed to know when the nominee lost his virginity to assess his fitness to serve on the nation’s higher court.

Sexual assault has nothing to do with consensual intercourse or a person’s sexual coming-of-age. But it has everything to do with power, who holds it over another human being during a vile act of domination. Sexual assault seeks to denigrate the victim and fulfill for the perpetrator something he sorely lacks and desperately needs.

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Why is it so hard to understand that pinning a 15-year-old girl to a bed, trying to undress her against her will, and covering her mouth so she can’t scream is not about having sex? Why is it so hard to grasp that there’s no love in this equation but a desire to overpower?

Why is it so hard to understand that shoving your penis into a woman’s face without her consent is not fun and games? And no, it doesn’t matter at all that the victim was drinking, or what she was wearing, as some demand to know, or that she was playing a drinking game. The invasive act is particularly egregious because she was drinking and the aggressor took advantage of her state.

And, as far as a defense against allegations of sexual assault goes, Kavanaugh’s claim that he didn’t have sex until “many years” after college isn’t proof of anything. It only adds more doubt and concern about the real issues under consideration at this point.

Is Kavanaugh — now accused of sexual misconduct by two women, Blasey and Yale classmate Deborah Ramirez, and possibly a third woman who has retained counsel — qualified to serve a lifetime appointment in a post where he would rule on vital women’s issues?

Of course not.

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Debora Ramírez, Brett Kavanaugh. Facebook,AFP

And double the “no” when Kavanaugh, defending himself from assault allegations, resorts to his lack of a sex life into his 20s as evidence of his innocence. Well, some people might say that’s exactly why, when consuming enough alcohol dulled his inhibitions, he assaulted these women with no shame.

Although he denies all of it, Kavanaugh has been described by various people as a heavy drinker in high school and college.

His freshman college roommate at Yale, software developer James Roche, has issued a statement of support for Ramirez. He says that although Kavanaugh was “notably reserved,” he drank heavily even by the standards of those days, and when he did, became “aggressive and belligerent.” He goes on to say: “Based on my time with Debbie, I believe her to be unusually honest and straightforward and I cannot imagine her making this up. Based on my time with Brett, I believe that he and his social circle were capable of the actions that Debbie described.”

It’s looking pretty bad for Kavanaugh. The more he lies about his past to save his nomination at all cost, the more people who knew him come forward.

But with the Republican women standing by him — partisan loyalties spinning militant telenovela fantasies and pitiful “boys will be boys” excuses — he’s in good company.

Follow Santiago on Twitter, @fabiolasantiago

Although it is difficult to calculate the prevalence of sexual abuse due to underreporting, studies suggest alcohol plays a significant role in the potential for sexual abuse, according to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

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