Various congresswomen have come forward with allegations of sexual harassment and groping from their fellow lawmakers, adding to the cascade of women coming forward against powerful men.
A current lawmaker and three former ones told their own stories of harassment, ranging from groping to inappropriate sexual comments to the Associated Press in a series of Friday interviews.
Former California Sen. Barbara Boxer alleged that one congressman made a sexual comment to her during a hearing in the 1980s. The congressman said he wanted to “associate with the gentle lady,” prompting laughter from those gathered, Boxer alleged. She later asked that the remark be taken out from hearing record.
“This is about power. That was an example of the way I think we were thought of, a lot of us. … It’s hostile and embarrasses, and therefore could take away a person’s power,” Boxer told the AP.
Since a series of bombshell reports on allegations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, women from all walks of life have leveled charges of harassment and assault against men, including literary editor Leon Wieseltier, an NPR news chief Mike Oreskes and political analyst Mark Halperin.
Another congresswoman, Rep. Linda Sanchez, alleged a lawmaker harassed her when she first started in Congress. While she warns other young women about this male lawmaker, she declined to name him, noting that he still works in Congress.
“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 Sanchez.
Other female members told the AP stories of being ogled by male colleagues and experiencing sexually suggestive comments. Both women decline to reveal the identity of the men.
“I don’t think I’m the only one. What I tried to do was ignore it, turn away, walk away. Obviously it’s offensive. Are you supposed to be flattered? No, we’re adults. Not appropriate,” Former Rep. Hilda Solis told AP.
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