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  HOME | Opinion (Click here for more)

Carlos Alberto Montaner: The Age of Consent Has Arrived
Latin American genius Carlos Alberto Montaner takes a look at the state of men-women relations and the Kavanaugh case.

By Carlos Alberto Montaner

Very upset, Christine Blasey Ford alleges that 36 years ago Brett Kavanaugh groped her and tried to rape her. He couldn’t. She fled the room and took refuge in a bathroom. She says that Kavanaugh was drunk. They and other friends were in a party. She was 15 years old and he was 17. Ford successfully passed a lie detector test.

Full of anger, Kavanaugh says that, if it really happened, it was not him. It was another person. He made clear that he was not even in Washington, D.C. on that date. He added the (insubstantial) fact that he was a virgin at that time. Dr. Ford today is a respectable psychologist with impressive academic credentials. Kavanaugh today is a remarkable judge, Yale graduate, conservative, equally respectable, and has been nominated to the Supreme Court.

It is her word against his word. That happens in indirect confrontations. It is hard to find the truth. Both were very persuasive, although it is problematic to think that she lied. Does Ford want the truth to be known because she feels a social responsibility, or is it because she wants to remove a thorn that has been piercing her heart for many years? Maybe because of both reasons.

Let’s discount the political passion of the Democrats against the Republicans and vice versa. Let's even forget that another conservative judge may influence the decisions of the Supreme Court for a quarter of a century. This is very important for the debatable moral issues that divide American society.

For example, there is the growing right of people over their own bodies. The women’s right to abortion. The right of suicidal individuals to take their own lives or to submit themselves to euthanasia. The right of people dissatisfied with their nature to choose their own gender. And everyone's right to use prohibited substances like addictive drugs.

But the key question is not who is to blame. Let's say Ford is right. The important thing is whether a drunken teenager’s failed attempt to rape a girl – an attempt that has not even being examined at the court because it was not reported at the time – invalidates him to be a member of the Supreme Court of the United States.

Why not be equally rigorous with other instances of power? If the same rule applies, probably half of the legislators could not occupy their seats because during their teenage years they did terribly stupid things or pranks that bordered on crime.

Today we know that one of the features of the adolescent brain is the inability to judge the consequences of actions. That inability remains until the individual is around 25 years old. That's why the boys are so bold and such good soldiers. They don’t know fear. They don’t fear death. That’s also why sometimes they accept harmful influences that they eventually discard in a few years. When they mature they behave in a different way. They have a much more cautious perspective.

Undoubtedly, Ford went through a terrible bad experience 36 years ago, like so many women in that and other times. Surely Ford does not ignore that former slaves were granted the right to vote before women had that right. That women could not study in the university until the 19th century. That until the English Mary Wollstonecraft proclaimed in 1787 the right of women to sexual pleasure, it was assumed that the ladies’ function was none other than to provide men with a warm mucous membrane in which they could deposit their sperm.

When the Eastern tradition took hold of Rome and the somber Catholic vision became the official religion, women became creatures of the lowest class, a mere appendix of men. They could not even enter the structure of a church of celibate men, who even argued in their Councils whether women had souls or were closer to animals.

It has taken a long time, but little by little, gender equality has been achieved. What we have just seen on television is another episode of the "Me Too" movement and the urgent need to seek the full consent of the bed partner. It is the triumph of Mary Wollstonecraft exactly 221 years after her death.

Carlos Alberto Montaner is a journalist and writer. Born in 1943 in Cuba and exiled, Montaner is known for his more than 25 books and thousands of articles. PODER magazine estimates that more than six million readers have access to his weekly columns throughout Latin America. He is also a political analyst for CNN en Espanol. In 2012, Foreign Policy magazine named Montaner as one of the fifty most influential intellectuals in the Ibero-American world. His latest novel is A Time for Scoundrels. His latest essay is "The President: A Handbook for Voters and the Elected." His latest book is a review of Las raíces torcidas de América Latina (The Twisted Roots of Latin America), published by Planeta and available in Amazon, in printed or digital version.


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