The suburban dimension to the Kavanaugh hearings

The testimony from Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh all revolved around a suburban high school social scene. Some suburban features of the matter at hand:

-Kavanaugh lived in Bethesda, Maryland. This community just northwest of Washington D.C. is largely white as well as very wealthy and educated. Ford also lived in the Washington D.C. suburbs.

-Kavanaugh described his summers in high school as involving working (having his own lawn mower business, working in construction) and getting together with friends. It sounds like they were able to drive themselves places. They had some measure of independence to engage in teenager activities. Ford described spending many summer days at the country club pool.

-Both Kavanaugh and Ford went to private schools in high school and highly ranked colleges (Yale and the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill).

-The partying and drinking scene at people’s houses and other settings (like the beach) sounds like descriptions I have heard about parties in wealthier suburbs as well as occasional stories relayed to me from my own suburban setting.

-Kavanaugh described himself as working really hard at school even as he also came from a family with good jobs and resources. He also described participation in a number of high school activities including football.

-Kavanaugh had a decent-sized group of friends who hung out and knew each other fairly well (even if they have not kept up so well over the years since high school).

-A number of the physical settings mentioned in the hearing are common in suburbia. The alleged assault took place at a two-story suburban house in nearby Chevy Chase (also a very white and wealthy suburb) that probably does not stand out much from neighboring houses. Ford described running into Mark Judge at a local supermarket.

-Both Ford and Kavanaugh ended up in successful careers that might be considered befitting of their wealthier suburban origins: Kavanaugh has a law degree and is a judge and Ford has a Ph.D. and is a psychologist.

The descriptions of this suburban life from the allegation and the denial seem like they could come from any number of wealthier American suburbs. These are places where teenagers often have a good measure of independence and some access to vehicles, money, and alcohol (and/or drugs), the teenagers generally end up as successes, and some mischief or misdeeds are allowable for kids from good families (and perhaps even encouraged). On one hand, these are the sorts of places where teenage life can look pretty good. On the other hand, as the hearings imply, wealthier suburban life can go horribly wrong in ways that resources and success can not easily remedy.

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