How D.C. Prep School Culture Builds Men Like Brett Kavanaugh
Brett Kavanaugh, who is alleged to have sexually abused Christine Blasey Ford during his days at Georgetown Prep, is not an anomaly, or an accident. An entire ecosystem for white, male children of wealthy families exists that both encourages abusive behavior and covers it up.
Deirdre Bowen would know. In a USA Today op-ed, Bowen, now a law professor at Seattle University, details the world of D.C.-area private schools and the people who attended them, including the underage drinking, the violence and the expectation that women should suffer in silence from the consequences.
“The students at these elite schools are groomed to be charismatic, upstanding leaders in society,” Bowen writes. “This, however, does not mean that the upstanding leaders of today could not have committed unspoken venialities in their youth.”
Bowen writes that she, like Kavanaugh, “was raised in Montgomery County, Maryland. Like him, I attended Beach Week, the week of debauchery when Catholic high school students take over Ocean City before the public school kids get out for the summer. Like him, I hosted and went to parties where underage drinking was the norm. To be honest, getting wasted was the norm.”
“Getting wasted,” she writes, was true for both genders. So was the expectation that because of their wealth and connections, students would have access to elite colleges and prestigious jobs. “Beyond that,” Bowen writes, “the barometer created clear gender dichotomies.”
We were socialized, as good Catholic girls, to protect our chastity, which meant we had to protect ourselves against boys. In essence, we could socialize with the boys in our prep school circles, but it was our responsibility to control the boys because they could not be relied upon or expected to control themselves. Any failure in that department was our shame alone. And alone we carried it.
Indeed, that was how male entitlement worked. Boys were taught that they could take what they wanted. It was not their job to protect females. It was their job to protect each other from their misdeeds no matter how big or alcohol-fueled. The boys kept each other’s secrets.
The students at Kavanaugh’s alma mater, Georgetown Preparatory School, called the students at Bowen’s school—The Academy of the Holy Cross—“the whores on the hill,” Bowen writes. That teenage boys treat teenage girls like sex objects isn’t news, but Bowen believes the gender-segregated schools made the situation worse, explaining, “The absent gender is more easily dehumanized. She becomes a vehicle in which sexual urges can be satisfied without any reflection on the consequences of how the task took shape.”
As Bowen observes, “Not all boys behaved in this manner,” but that’s almost beside the point. “Otherwise nice boys did engage in sexually aggressive behavior, especially when inebriated, without consequence.”
She ends with a warning for everyone watching the Kavanaugh hearings and Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony:
That Kavanaugh is an upstanding judge without even a “little blemish on his record” and thus could not have done what Ford asserts is a logical fallacy. Kavanaugh’s blemishless record is likely more a testament to the code of secrecy (or amnesia) among his school peers than a mark of his good character.
Read her entire op-ed here.