In marked contrast to the television and film industries these days, in which sexual harassers are losing jobs and lucrative contracts, the House of Representatives today responded to testimony that two of its current members are known sexual harassers with the announcement that all members must go through mandatory training on how not to sexually harass people.
House Speaker Paul Ryan announced the mandatory training today after two female members of the House appeared at a Committee on House Administration hearing about harassment to inform them women are being harassed.
California Rep. Jackie Speier testified there are at least two current members of Congress – one Dem, one Republican, both male – who engage in sexual harassment. Harassment in the House, she described, involves the men exposing their genitals on the floor of the House, grabbing women by their private parts on the floor of the House and asking women, “Are you going to be a good girl?”
Virginia Rep. Barbara Comstock testified about what she knew, saying it was “important that we name names.”
Except no names were named. Lots of people on the Hill know who the harassers are, because there is something called a Creep List, CNN reported. But, because neither The New York Times nor The New Yorker has created a watershed moment in politics the way they have in the entertainment industry with explosive articles in which women come forward to out their abusers, in Washington, the harassers’ identities remain under wraps.
CNN today walked viewers though the process by which a staffer must report sexual harassment in Congress. As described by news outlet, the victim must report the incident to the Office of Compliance. Then the victim must undergo 30 days of mandatory counseling. The survivor then must sign an NDA and agree to mandatory mediation. But before that can start, there’s a mandatory cooling-off period, at the end of which it’s been 90 days since the victim first reported the incident.
If you think the process is set up to try to discourage victims from reporting what has happened, and think it’s almost as if the process had been set up by harassers – Jake Tapper thinks so too, and said as much on his CNN show.
“Going forward, the House will adopt a policy of mandatory anti-harassment and anti-discrimination training for all Members and staff,” Ryan said in a statement after today’s stunning hearing.
“Our goal is not only to raise awareness but also make abundantly clear that harassment in any form has no place in this institution,” thre House Speaker added, clearing that up.