Robin Progrebin and Kate Kelly’s The Education of Brett Kavanaugh wants to be an investigative account of the confirmation process that landed Brett Kavanaugh (Kavanaugh) on the Supreme Court. If you followed the process, especially the parts of it involving Dr. Christine Blacey Ford’s (Ford) allegation that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her while they were in high school, the book won’t provide a lot of new insight. The books, epilogue, though, leaves readers with the book’s most important point.
In the epilogue, the authors conclude that Kavanaugh likely mistreated Ford and Deborah Ramirez (Ramirez)when the three were teenagers. But the authors add they found nothing to indicate Kavanaugh mistreated others in similar ways. Their conclusion is basically that Kavanaugh matured.
That conclusion, offered by two women, highlights the sexism that still permeates American society. While Kavanaugh was busy learning how to have a good time without drinking to the point of blackout and/or committing sexual assault, Ford and Ramirez spent decades trying to find their voices and redefine their self-worth on their terms.
While Kavanaugh was going from one dream job to another in an ultimately successful effort to land on the Supreme Court, Dr. Ford was fighting with her husband because she needed two front doors on their home to feel safe.
While Kavanaugh was regularly held out to the public as a virtuous, religious man, Ford and Ramirez were hoping almost no one discovered the secret our sexist society taught them to feel as their private shame.
While Ford and Ramirez were regularly told they couldn’t corroborate their claims, Brett Kavanaugh was defended after committing perjury and launching basis political attacks on Democrats under the idea of what would you do?
While Ford and Ramirez were counseled not to cry or show much emotion, Kavanaugh’s lies, yells, and tears were seen as appropriate ways for him to defend his honor.
Today, Kavanaugh has his dream job. Today, Kavanaugh is once again coaching youth sports.
Today, Ford must still deal with the feelings that must arise in someone who is sexually assaulted. Today, Ford is dealing with those feelings while reflecting on the numerous death threats she received. She is remembering the weeks she spent away from her home and family because of those threats to her life.
Today, Ramirez has trouble trusting people. Today, Ramirez tries to use her experience as a surviver to make things easier for other survivors.
While The Education of Brett Kavanaugh highlights important information about the process (most notably the FBI’s pathetic excuse for an investigation), the real story is that Brett Kavanaugh’s education has reminded anyone willing to learn that privileged white men have the privilege to move on from their mistakes–no matter how egregious. On the other hand, those they abuse for their selfish gratification are often doubted and dismissed.
Privilege has allowed Brett Kavanaugh to ignore the pain he caused and realize his dreams. The women he abused have spent decades running from nightmares that in some ways upended their dreams.
The Education of Brett Kavanaugh is worth reading if you want to learn about the history of what happened, or you don’t want to forget the lessons the process failed to adequately teach. But The Education of Brett Kavanaugh is too weak and accommodating to discuss the underlying sexism and privilege that Kavanaugh’s confirmation tried to make America consider.