KENNEDY MEN TEND to be vile, and never more so than when they are abusing women. It is one of the revolting truths of our age that the most flattered and fawned-over family in American politics breeds men who treat women like dirt. It is even more revolting that women reward them for it.
In her new book, Shattered Faith, Sheila Rauch Kennedy has very little to say about her 12-year marriage to US Representative Joseph P. Kennedy II of Massachusetts. Most of the book is an unsparing dissection of the American Catholic Church's annulment policy, which each year declares tens of thousands of former marriages to have never existed in the sight of God. But the few words she does devote to her former husband evoke the familiar Kennedy misogyny.
"My former husband was powerful and popular," she writes. "I was, as he so often reminded me, a nobody; and nobody in his town would be on my side." During her marriage, Sheila Kennedy recalls, she "rarely stood up to Joe." She "kept quiet." Not because she had no spine — her ongoing battle to keep the church from annulling her marriage shows spine aplenty — but for a more elemental reason: "I had simply become afraid of him."
Time after time, this is what women have experienced at the hands of Kennedys: fear, and being treated as a nobody. . .