Young Brett Kavanaugh belonged to a wild fraternity at Yale that was reviled for misogyny and drunken woman-degrading antics.
Allegations of sexual assault follow more than half a dozen DKE members, including its president. And now, Brett Kavanaugh.
This archival photograph from the year Kavanaugh was a sophomore at the University, and already inducted into the fraternity, kind of says all you need to know about rape culture.
This photograph appeared in the Yale Daily News on Jan. 18, 1985. You can view a higher resolution version on the Yale Daily News website.
Kavanaugh does not appear in the photograph. DKE pledges are “fondly known as ‘buttholes,’” according to the caption.
The Yale Daily News says the photo shows Brett Kavanaugh’s DKE fraternity brothers “waving a flag woven from women’s underwear as part of a procession of DKE initiates marching across Yale’s campus.”
DKE is a Yale fraternity known for misogynist antics, and the more than half a dozen sexual assault allegations against its members, including the fraternity's former President.
In a Facebook comment on the YaleWomen page, Jennifer Lew ’87, a classmate of Kavanaugh’s, says DKE frat bros used to raid women’s rooms when they were in class to collect their bras and panties.
Psychologist Dr. Christine Blasey Ford says Kavanaugh tried to sexually assault her at a high school party almost 40 years ago.
Although the flag may seem shocking by today’s standards, the photograph appeared in 1985 under the tongue-in-cheek headline “DKE AT PLAY.” At the time of the escapades, Kavanaugh — who does not appear in the photo — was a sophomore, already inducted into the fraternity.
In a letter to the editor published in the News three days later, a Yale student, Rachel Eisler ’86, charged that DKE’s pledge antics “demean women.” She wrote that she approached one of the pledges carrying the flag to ask whether any briefs or jockstraps were affixed to the pole. “Well, I didn’t make it,” the pledge responded, according to the letter. He then said he doubted that any “guys’ stuff” would be woven into the flag.
“‘But hey,’” he told the female student, according to the letter. “‘Your panties might be here!”
Steve Gallo ’88, a member of DKE’s 1985 pledge class, said on Wednesday that the flag “was just somebody’s stupid idea” and that the underwear was “obtained consensually.”
During the fraternity’s “pledge week,” he recalled, the frat’s upperclassmen would send the new recruits out “for fun to talk to Yale women on their behalf.” Occasionally, he said, DKE brothers would send new recruits on “scavenger hunts” to find specific objects on campus.
“Pledges might ask for help from women they knew — or maybe the guy who sent them knew — to complete an item on the list,” Gallo said. “I am almost certain that is where any women’s undergarments would have come from … women people knew donating them willingly to play along.”
In addition to DKE, Kavanaugh also belonged to Truth and Courage, one of Yale’s secret societies for seniors. Among some students, the all-male club, which was popular with athletes, was known by the nickname “Tit and Clit.”
Truth and Courage fizzled out of existence in the early 2010s. But since Kavanaugh’s graduation in 1987, DKE’s reputation for mistreating women at Yale has only grown. Yale banned DKE from campus for five years in 2011 after videos circulated of fraternity recruits chanting “no means yes, yes means anal” in front of the University’s Women’s Center.
As the article notes, there doesn't appear to be any record of Kavanaugh speaking publicly about his time in the DKE fraternity.
But Kavanaugh did give a speech to Yale Law School's Federalist Society in 2014 in which he recalled “falling out of [a] bus onto the front steps of the Yale Law School at about 4:45 a.m.” after a night of bar-hopping in Boston, according to a partial transcript.
PS: While we're at it:
A top professor at Yale Law School who strongly endorsed supreme court nominee Brett Kavanaugh as a “mentor to women” privately told a group of law students last year that it was “not an accident” that Kavanaugh’s female law clerks all “looked like models” and would provide advice to students about their physical appearance if they wanted to work for him, the Guardian has learned.