"It's About Power" - Congresswomen Discuss Being Sexually Harassed By Male Colleagues

The national conversation surrounding sexual harassment in the workplace shows no signs of slowing down - if anything, it is spreading from beyond the media and entertainment industries, where the revelations about alleged serial predator Harvey Weinstein triggered a wave of accusations against him and many other powerful industry figures, including directors Brett Ratner and James Toback, as well as actor Kevin Spacey.

In a stunning report published earlier today, the Associated Press reports about four Congresswomen who shared their stories of harassment by male colleagues, some of which even unfolded openly on the floor of the House.

Three of the women have since left elected office, though one - California Rep. Linda Sanchez - continues to serve. The three who left are former California Senator Barbara Boxer, former California Rep. Mary Bono (who won the seat formerly held by her late husband, Sonny Bono, after his death) and former California Rep. Hilda Solis.

As reports flow almost daily of harassment or worse by men in entertainment, business and the media, one current and three former female lawmakers tell The Associated Press that they, too, have been harassed or subjected to hostile sexual comments — by fellow members of Congress.

 

The incidents occurred years or even decades ago, usually when the women were young newcomers to Congress. They range from isolated comments at one hearing, to repeated unwanted come-ons, to lewd remarks and even groping on the House floor. Coming amid an intensifying national focus on sexual harassment and gender hostility in the workplace, the revelations underscore that no woman is immune, even at the highest reaches of government.

 

“This is about power,” said former California Sen. Barbara Boxer, after describing an incident at a hearing in the 1980s where a male colleague made a sexually suggestive comment. The colleague, using the traditional congressional parlance, said he wanted to “associate” himself with her remarks — adding afterward that he also wanted to “associate with the gentle lady."

The women declined to name their harassers - but at least two of the men continue to serve in the House. And none of the women reported what happened, and some noted it was not clear where they would lodge such a complaint."

“When I was a very new member of Congress in my early 30s, there was a more senior member who outright propositioned me, who was married, and despite trying to laugh it off and brush it aside it, would repeat. And I would avoid that member,” said Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Calif.

 

She added that she would warn other new female members about the lawmaker in question, but she declined to identify him, while saying he remains in Congress.

 

“I just don’t think it would be helpful” to call the lawmaker out by name, Sanchez said. “The problem is, as a member there’s no HR department you can go to, there’s nobody you can turn to. Ultimately they’re employed by their constituents."

 

Sanchez also said that a different male colleague repeatedly ogled her, and at one point touched her inappropriately on the House floor, while trying to make it appear accidental. She declined to identify the lawmaker but said he was no longer in Congress. 

Bono said she chose not to report her harasser because he stopped his demeaning behavior after Bono confronted him about it.

Bono said she ultimately confronted her colleague on the House floor after he’d made repeated harassing comments.

 

Bono, who arrived in the House at age 36 to replace her husband Sonny Bono after he died in a skiing accident, said it seemed like the lawmaker didn’t know how to talk to a woman as an equal. “Instead of being ‘how’s the weather, how’s your career, how’s your bill,’ it was ‘I thought about you while I was in the shower.’ So it was a matter of saying to him ‘That’s not cool, that’s just not cool.’"

 

Bono declined to identify the lawmaker, saying the behavior stopped after she finally challenged him. He still serves in Congress, she said.

 

“It is a man’s world, it’s still a man’s world,” Bono said. “Not being a flirt and not being a bitch. That was my rule, to try to walk that fine line."

Another lawmaker, Rep. . Jackie Speier (also of California), said she was sexually assaulted by a male of chief of staff when she was an inexperienced staffer on the Hill.

Rep. Jackie Speier of California has recently gone public with an account of being sexually assaulted by a male chief of staff while she was a congressional staffer. She has criticized the vague rules in place on the issue and is preparing legislation to mandate sexual harassment training for congressional offices, among other changes. In a video posted to Twitter last week, she called Congress “a breeding ground for a hostile work environment” and encouraged others to come forward.

 

Yet when it comes to lawmakers themselves, Speier said: “I think the women in Congress are big girls. The equalizer that exists in Congress that doesn’t exist in other settings is that we all get paid the same amount and we all have a vote, the same vote. So if you have members that are demeaning you it’s because you’re letting them."

To be sure, lawmakers have certain advantages that the women say should limit the possible repercussions of taking a stand against harassment.

Yet when it comes to lawmakers themselves, Speier said: “I think the women in Congress are big girls. The equalizer that exists in Congress that doesn’t exist in other settings is that we all get paid the same amount and we all have a vote, the same vote. So if you have members that are demeaning you it’s because you’re letting them."

One former representative went even further, saying there is no harassment in Congress because female and male lawmakers have equal power. Though academics strenuously pushed back against this notion.

Former Rep. Ellen Tauscher of California flatly argued that harassment can’t take place between members of Congress. “Female members and male members are equals, they don’t sexually harass each other,” Tauscher said.

 

In fact, the law specifies that harassment can occur between equals, said Jennifer Drobac, a professor at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, who teaches a course in sexual harassment law.

 

“Formally, two members of Congress may have the same status. That doesn’t change the fact that sexual harassment can occur between peers,” Drobac said, noting that numerous other factors can come into play, including the difference in age and length of service between the members, and the mere fact that men have more power in society than women.

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, accusations of sexual harassment by male lawmakers have exploded into a full-blown crisis involving dozens of MPs, something that's become a major problem for Theresa May's government as it struggles to reach an agreement on the terms of the UK's exit from the European Union.

Considering the political fallout in the UK, we imagine many male lawmakers on Capitol Hill are nervously tugging at their collars this morning as they worry that more lawmakers and staffers might come forward and start naming names. With Republicans' tax-reform push looking more tenuous by the day, another scandal is the last thing the White House and its partners in Congress need right now.

Comments

Chupacabra-322 The_Juggernaut Fri, 11/03/2017 - 16:25 Permalink

Want to see the Mecca & Center of Pedophilia, Child & human trafficking & sexual abuse?

Walk the halls of these Pure Evil War Criminal Treasonous Seditious Psychopaths in CONgress.

Pure Flith.

All the Hollyweird sex abuse scandals breaking daily is low information, low hanging fruit to distract.

What these Pure Vile Evil Psychopaths wont reveal are themselves in Congress.

The Elite level Pedo

In reply to by The_Juggernaut

SixIsNinE The_Juggernaut Fri, 11/03/2017 - 19:26 Permalink

the DEA and drug cops squads are full of rapists and abusers.and by that i mean there are women who rape and abuse,  it's an equal opportunity to abuse the law, and abuse men -  when they have the badge on their side and the LEOs to cover for them.Parallel Construction is a Friend for The Women RapistsYour time is coming Female Rapists and Abusers and Terrrrrrrists For REAL, BitChEZZZ 

In reply to by The_Juggernaut

Lost My Shorts Creepy_Azz_Crackaah Fri, 11/03/2017 - 18:06 Permalink

Yes, it's reached the point where hitting on a woman is harassment.  Even if you don't touch.  Even if you take no for an answer.  It represents total victory in the gender war -- criminalizing being male.  Almost every man hit on someone, somewhere, sometime in the past.  So almost every man can be ruined on a whim, career ended, put on the street, any time they want.You might notice a paradox:  on one hand there is much gnashing of teeth over the decline of western civilization.  But at the same time, when you look at where western civilization as arrived, why should it survive?  How could it?  Would you even fight for this civilization, and why?  It will all be different when the Taliban take over (which they will, inevitably.)  So what.  Houellebecq is the prophet of our age.

In reply to by Creepy_Azz_Crackaah

oooBooo Lost My Shorts Fri, 11/03/2017 - 20:59 Permalink

It has reached that point.I was watching a reaction to a you tube video of a harrassment quiz. Everything from looked at her on up was a point of harrassment.There's a jpg circulating on social media that men should be a like a trained dog and sit and wait for permission.Trouble is, permission, explicit permission, never comes.Women have attacked the most productive element of western society and ripped from it any reason to  be productive. Anything a man makes is to be taken to support women. Women have no obligations to men in relationships. All socialital obligations are on men, none are on women. Women have choices. Men have obligations.And they wonder why men are killing themselves and becoming less productive while a few here and there on 'depression' drugs flip out in violent rampages. It's the guns they say. This society is done. It attacks and punishes the prudent and productive for being prudent and productive. That's what kills a society and pushes it into grinding proverty and keeps it there.   

In reply to by Lost My Shorts

Escrava Isaura Juggernaut x2 Fri, 11/03/2017 - 16:42 Permalink

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Kardashians and Trump have a lot in common such as TV personalities and alarming capability of self-promoting. Katy Perry is an artist. Kardashians and Trump are not artists, maybe con artists, but not artists. Sharia law as a model? Model for what?

In reply to by Juggernaut x2

HRClinton Bill of Rights Fri, 11/03/2017 - 17:47 Permalink

I don't know what she said, cause her face bothered me too much.Look at her face in 2 views:  Top half and Bottom half.The Top half (above her cheeks) looks feminine.  The Bottom half (cheeks and jaw) look decidedly masculine.  NOT sexy.  If she has a similar 1/2 and 1/2 split inside, I can see why she's a real pistol to deal with.Smart hetero guys will avoid women like this.  Nothing but trouble, while they're still dealing with their Daddy issues in their forties and fifties.

In reply to by Bill of Rights

Dig Deeper1 Rainman Fri, 11/03/2017 - 18:06 Permalink

You sure.  The amusement factor in this is running high."“When I was a very new member of Congress in my early 30s, there was a more senior member who outright propositioned me, who was married, and despite trying to laugh it off and brush it aside it, would repeat.And I would avoid that member...""She was really avoiding that member's member.  Now all the "members" avoid her.  

In reply to by Rainman

vulcanraven Fri, 11/03/2017 - 15:35 Permalink

"Everything in the world is about sex except sex. Sex is about power."-Oscar WildeNow just imagine how easy it is to control those in power who have a fetish for sex with children.

shimmy Fri, 11/03/2017 - 15:32 Permalink

Were they all dumbocrats? If so, you can be sure the men they say harrassed them that they refuse to name are also dumbocrats. No way they'd stay silent if the men are republicants.

Ex-Oligarch shimmy Fri, 11/03/2017 - 22:28 Permalink

Jackie Speier, Linda Sanchez and of course Barbara Boxer are all Democrats.(Though I think Boxer was flattering herself that the innocuous comment reported above was "sexual harassment.")Mary Bono is a Republican.  You will note that she is the only one whose approach to the problem was to confront the man involved, which ended the behavior that made her uncomfortable.  The others apparently prefer to play the role of helpless victims, refusing to confront the men out of deference to seniority or to some nebulous social protocol, which of course allows them to claim that all of American society is permeated by sexism and exploitation in line with the dogma of their party. 

In reply to by shimmy

techpriest Fri, 11/03/2017 - 15:34 Permalink

I remember a particular lobbyist who told me that once he earned enough money, he was moving deep to the Appalachians and never talking to anyone in politics again.

The reality is, Washington is a meat rack, and in normal times a guy with enough power will have nearly every woman say yes to whatever he says. And, according to the above lobbyist these Congressmen think of it as having "arrived," or as a perk.

I guess the guy suddenly grew a conscience in his 30s, because he got out not long after telling me that.

Milton Keynes techpriest Fri, 11/03/2017 - 16:06 Permalink

I have a good friend who was hill staff, said the same thing.He said "Senior personnel offered him an assigned girlfriend, and when he passed, the next dayhe was offered an assigned boyfriend"... He explained that he thought both were kind offersbut he was rather preferable to finding a partner on his own. He left the hill a few years later and moved to Oklahoma and does IT now.  

In reply to by techpriest

NoWayJose Fri, 11/03/2017 - 15:33 Permalink

Congresswomen 'too afraid'? Slap the dude across the face or kick him in the balls. If you cannot take the heat - how are you gonna represent your voters?

BurningBetty Fri, 11/03/2017 - 15:36 Permalink

What was supposed to be cases exposing pedophilia/child trafficking is now about every single person who may have been harassed at work in high places!? Yes, it may all be connected in some way but seriously, WTF?As an adult you have options to express yourself! If you are afraid to lose your job because you are afraid to come out and tell the truth then that's your personal problem. I guarantee you that most places suffer from sexual harassement. I am not saying it isn't a problem but let's just focus on the Moby Fucking Dicks instead of these spermlooking tadpoles! Seriously! 

techpriest Hikikomori Fri, 11/03/2017 - 15:43 Permalink

Look at it this way: ancient emperors always kept a harem, but ancient empresses did not. This is one of the key examples to understanding masculinity and femininity.

For women, sex is about love or power, or more specifically access to powerful men. For men, sex can be about love, simple enjoyment, and also about the accomplishment of being able to attract and bed a beautiful woman.

I haven't heard of a single long-term, highly sexual relationship between a man and woman where the man was using sex to control the woman. I have heard of plenty of marginally-sexual relationships where the woman was using sex to control the man. I think the feminazis are projecting on this one.

In reply to by Hikikomori

Miffed Microbi… techpriest Fri, 11/03/2017 - 16:16 Permalink

We all want the same. Truth, Forgiveness and Love. And to be with one who loves and appreciates us as we are.

A gorgeous woman can use her looks and find safety in a powerful man. She will never be happy or satisfied. A man can fuck 1000 beautiful woman and never be happy or satisfied. Hugh Hefner said in a sad interview he had never found his soulmate looking for love in the wrong places. We get sucked into the superficially of the fancy lifestyle and not see the pain underneath. What man would not say he wanted to lead a life as Hugh Hefner?

A quiet desperation to avoid dying alone unloved, gazing as the vultures consuming what few assets remain, to which we still cling.

Miffed

In reply to by techpriest