On October 22 in CALmatters, Dan Walters takes on a particularly hot topic: sexual harassment by superiors in the workplace.
In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, Sacramento’s women in politics began to sound off on their own experiences in the male-dominated Capitol. This sentiment coalesced in an open letter, signed by over 140 women working at all levels of politics, which expressed disgust with the continued pervasiveness of inappropriate sexual behavior in the political field.
The letter explains their inaction to this point: “Why didn’t we speak up? Sometimes out of fear. Sometimes out of shame. Often these men hold our professional fates in their hands. They are bosses, gatekeepers, and contacts. Our relationships with them are crucial to our personal success.”
It seems quite likely that these men in powerful positions intentionally used those positions as insulation from the consequences of their actions. Women were often forced to cooperate as their positions of power made them difficult to deny. If the women did successfully refuse, the man could probably rely, at best, on having the issue covered up by the Legislature and, at worst, could retaliate against the woman who denied him.
In his column, Walters recounts this culture — a remnant of past decades – and considers its effects today.
To read more from Walters, see here: Weinstein sex scandal reverberates in California’s Capitol