Women in Sacramento Call Out Culture of Sexual Harassment

Frank May/DPA via ZUMA

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Women who work in the state capitol in Sacramento have had enough:

The groundswell over sexual harassment that has rocked Hollywood moved into California’s capital on Tuesday as more than 140 women — including legislators, senior legislative aides and lobbyists — came forward to denounce what they describe as pervasive sexual misconduct by powerful men in the nation’s most influential legislature.

Women complained of groping, lewd comments and suggestions of trading sexual favors for legislation while doing business in Sacramento. Their grievances, contained in a public letter and detailed in a series of interviews, mark the latest fallout from the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse scandal.

….Cristina Garcia, a Democratic member of the state Assembly who signed the letter, said Tuesday she has been routinely accosted by men who harassed her and made comments about her appearance while she was trying to discuss legislation. “Multiple people have grabbed my butt and grabbed my breasts,” she said. “We’re talking about senior lobbyists and lawmakers.”

….Pamela Lopez, a partner at a Sacramento lobbying firm, said that for years she has dealt with inappropriate suggestions from male officials, but the most disturbing episode came early last year, at a social gathering of lawmakers and lobbyists in a Sacramento bar.

As Ms. Lopez walked into the restroom, she said, she felt a large body pressing behind her. When she turned around, she saw that a lawmaker had locked the door behind him, had undone his pants and asked her to touch his genitals. “He had exposed himself and begun masturbating,” she said. “All I was thinking was what do I do, what do I do. And of course, I didn’t want to cause a scene.”

I imagine things are roughly the same in every state capitol and in Washington DC. I hope that the groundswell of disgust about this eventually puts everyone on notice that in the future, names will be named when men engage in behavior like this. That’s quite likely the only way to put a serious dent in it.

My guess is that the three biggest cesspools of sexual harassment are entertainment, politics, and finance. So far we’ve heard from the first two. When are we going to hear from Wall Street?

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is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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