WHO GETS A PASS?-No one is immune to sexual harassment and misconduct. Women across the planet have been subjected to it for centuries, and many do not have a voice to speak out against it.
Fortunately, the #MeToo movement has taken flight and more and more women are speaking out against their abusers in all industries including Hollywood and the world of politics.
Few men have spoken out about being abused. The challenges that men face in reporting sexual misconduct include cultural stereotypes that question their masculinity. Men who experience inappropriate and unwarranted behavior feel shame and embarrassment but often choose to stay silent. However, the tides are changing, and men are beginning to talk about their experiences with abusers. In fact, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), there have been an increasing number of men filing sexual harassment cases.
Which leads to these questions: How many women are being accused of sexual harassment and misconduct; and how many of them are elected officials, potentially costing the taxpayers millions in legal fees?
Ramifications of sexual assault play out differently in the political world than in other areas, where boards or consumers can take swift action against the perpetrators. Ultimately, in a democracy, it is voters that hold politicians accountable through elections. Sexual misconduct in the California Capitol has grabbed the spotlight in recent months and many of those accused walk away with only verbal warnings.
Do double standards exist in politics? It is unfortunate that politicians in many cases are treated as though they are above the law. In 2016, California State Assembly member Autumn Burke was accused of sexual misconduct; she walked away without disciplinary actions taken against her.
However, Assembly member Cristina Garcia faced a sterner action. These are just two of many instances of this across the nation. No one is immune to sexual harassment and misconduct. My question is, are our elected officials above the law? If so, will taxpayers continue to be reluctant enablers and bail them out with tax dollars? The most important piece of this puzzle is, does #MeToo include Men Too?
(Diedra M. Greenaway, MS/MBA, is a Los Angeles City Budget Advocate and BA Budget Chair for the Department of Economic and Workforce Development. Diedra is a CityWatch contributor.)Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.