Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 2019


We love to hate these boogeymen. When the societal narrative creates these invisible boogeymen, people can pour their rage against sexual abuse into these faceless antagonists. At the same time, the enraged survivors and protectors avoid conflicts with family, neighbors, colleagues, and social acquaintances who might actually commit or enable sexual abuse. We can dodge sticky questions regarding how a churchgoer, a judge, or an Ivy Leaguer could have committed a heinous act. The survivors can avoid all the victim-blaming backlash, threats of violence, and invalidation that accompanies reporting a sexual offense. Moreover, having less power on their own, survivors can continue to draw power and resources from the offenders and enablers aided by this narrative. ...

Thus, Kavanaugh gave his audience an invisible boogeyman to blame. The cultural story has trained his audience to accept this stranger rape narrative. They can empathize with Ford, exculpate the religious Yale graduate, and still feel righteous rage towards the monster under the bed who attacked a teenage Dr. Blasey-Ford.

Yet, even the monster under the bed often symbolizes something or someone real that a child actually fears in real life. If society wants to stop sexual abuse, then it must quit blaming strangers in dark allies. Society must be willing to hold movie producers, family members, Yale graduates, and even Supreme Court nominees responsible when they sexually abuse.