Letters to the editor: October 12 to 18

Mr Kavanaugh, I am angry

Dear Mr Kavanaugh, you’ve outdone yourself this time. Not only has your being appointed made survivors of assault and harassment feel invalidated and invisible — because you have used drunkenness and vague alibis as defences for your despicable actions, and had those defences accepted as valid — but you have stolen the voice from those you victimised.

You have achieved your position of power, yes — but you have also unintentionally become the ugly face of an uglier institution. It’s an institution run by those used to having the power; those who sit obese on stolen land with the bones of women, of immigrants, of queer persons and people of colour stuck between their teeth.

Brett Kavanaugh, you are a pawn — because, had you not been appointed, well, there are a thousand more men exactly like you. Pink, squealing magnates suckling from the teat of Papa Capitalism, watching as news channels air your dirty laundry … and barely breaking a sweat. Knowing your money, your church, your connections will keep you safe. Untouchable. Men like you are plentiful, and believe yourselves powerful — yet your abundance makes you replaceable.

Had you not been appointed, Mr Kavanaugh, another of your colleagues within the conservative hive mind would have filled your spot, all too ready to step up to the task of concealing the innumerable cons of a Trump-headed administration behind the pros — the quantity of which I could count on one hand.

“Unemployment rates are the lowest they’ve been in decades.” Maybe, because of the United States’s history of institutionalised racism, your censuses aren’t taking into consideration the fact that employment doesn’t always mean happy, healthy living. That many people of colour still don’t live in the “good” neighbourhoods, because of their parents’ continued struggle to recover from a heritage of slavery and oppression.

Maybe, because of the US’s ingrained patriarchy, the wage gap doesn’t always seem like such an issue when the women being polled are trust-fund babies. Maybe, thanks to the availability of safe and legal abortions, being able to prevent the births of children a woman cannot or does not want to care for helps keep people off the streets. Safe and legal abortions. A right to which all people capable of carrying children should have access. A right, Mr Kavanaugh, that your collective threatens.

Too many articles have been published since the announcement of your appointment claiming that this is the beginning of the end of Americans having autonomy over their reproductive health; the more white, cisgender, heterosexual conservatives are placed in positions of power, the more overwhelming the force of self-preserving, convenience-based thinking.

Men, as a general rule, should not have a say in whether or not people with wombs have access to abortions or other services. Take the fact that tampons are taxed as “luxury goods” whereas condoms go tax-free — as if sex is a necessity but personal hygiene is not.

But now, thanks to the ingenious powers that be within the American judicial system, not only is there another man contributing to a discussion that does not concern him, but one who, according to Dr Christine Blasey Ford, is practised at removing the autonomy of others.

These archaic men, about as intersectional as a slice of white bread, are repulsive. Brett Kavanaugh. Roy Moore. Donald J Trump. Abusers, manipulators, entitled oppressors of diversity. Who treat women as “less than”,as objects, with which anything can be done, without consequences. When we speak up for ourselves, these sorts of men elect not to listen. They turn off their hearing aids and watch our lips move, the static leaving an empty space in which they choose our words for us.

“Leave us alone,” we say. “We’re not impressed by your money.”

“Grab me by the … Call me pretty, and it’ll all be okay,” they hear.

And people call women coming forward with their stories of trauma selfish. They tell them they should have kept quiet, and that their accusations will ruin the perpetrator’s life. Ruin their career.

I am not writing this because I want praise for being “woke”. I am not “woke”. I am just angry. I am a woman lucky enough to not be living in the US, but unlucky enough to recognise that, if ever a global resurgence of conservative thinking were to occur, it would start there.

And now? It is starting. And it isn’t being started by bored little boys playing at neo-Nazism. It’s being instigated by some of the most powerful people in the world. People with heritages of oppression, of advantage-taking, and of othering. The Ku Klux Klan has grown faster since Donald Trump’s inauguration than at any time in recent memory. Neo-Nazis feel confident to hold parades in the streets. “Conservative” is rapidly becoming synonymous with “alt-right”.

Brett Kavanaugh, accused of sexual misconduct and assault by three brave, powerful women. Brett Kavanaugh, appointed to a position on the Supreme Court, despite this. Appointed for life. Congratulations, sir, on proving your own sheep wrong. Brett Kavanaugh is now on the Supreme Court, and will spend the rest of his life sympathising with those he knows to be abusers and frauds. Because he knows how it feels to press one hand to his chest, the other to a Bible, and lie bare-faced as the world watches. — Gaia Elkon, grade 10, Westerford High School, Cape Town

Kings’ return nets loyal reader

I have missed reading Sipho Kings’ articles [on environmental matters].

Keep it up — the material is well researched and is of huge educational value.

I want to encourage Kings to go from strength to strength. The Mail & Guardian is guaranteed to get weekly sales out of me as long as Kings keeps writing. — Anthony Borrel, Big Game Parks, eSwatini


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