Not even lawmakers on Capitol Hill are exempt from sexual harassment.
Giving an inside peak into the sexual harassment squirreling its way through the political sphere, one current and three former female US representatives spoke to AP in an exclusive interview.
Former Rep. Mary Bono (R-CA) recalled the moment early in her career when one of her male counterparts repeatedly told her that he had dreamt about the two taking a shower together.
“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,'” Bono told AP of the man, who she declined to name but said still serves in Congress. “So it was a matter of saying to him, ‘That’s not cool, that’s just not cool.'”
According to Bono, the comments ended after she confronted him.
For former Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), the comments directed at her were heard by the entire House floor. Boxer recounted a time early in her career when a male colleague during a hearing, in what AP identified as a “traditional congressional parlance,” stated he desired to “associate with the gentle lady.”
Per Boxer, the comments, which she later asked to be removed from the official hearing record, were met with laughter from fellow officials.
“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,” she said, adding that the behavior “is all about power.”
Rep. Linda Sanchez, a Democrat currently serving from California, noted that the times when she was repeatedly propositioned by a member, also still in Congress, also occurred early on in her career.
“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, would repeat. And I would avoid that member,” she told the AP.
But that wasn’t all — another male colleague also touched her inappropriately on the House floor, though he tried to brush it off as unintentional. This man, however, is no longer serving in Congress.
Former representative Hilda Solis (D-CA), who currently serves as a Los Angeles County supervisor, experienced on more than one occasion harassing comments from a colleague, though she did not go into detail with the outlet.
The revelations of the four lawmakers were made after Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) spoke out about her own experiences, as the “Weinstein effect” continues to make ripples.
“Many of us in Congress know what it’s like, because Congress has been a breeding ground for a hostile work environment for far too long,” Speier said in a video posted online last week, the Hill reported.
The outlet reported that Speier has already begun to introduce legislation that would in effect require sexual harassment training for congressional staffers, instead of only making it optional.