Female lawmakers allege harassment by colleagues in U.S. House
By ERICA WERNER and JULIET LINDERMAN
WASHINGTON — For years, Republican Rep. Mary Bono endured the increasingly suggestive comments from a fellow lawmaker in the House. But when the congressman approached her on the House floor and told her he’d been thinking about her in the shower, she’d had enough.
She confronted the man, who she said still serves in Congress, telling him his comments were demeaning and wrong. And he backed off.
Bono, who served 15 years before being defeated in 2012, is not alone.
As reports flow almost daily of harassment or worse by men in entertainment, business and the media, one current and three former female lawmakers tell The Associated Press that they, too, have been harassed or subjected to hostile sexual comments — by fellow members of Congress.
The incidents occurred years or even decades ago, usually when the women were young newcomers to Congress. They range from isolated comments at one hearing, to repeated unwanted come-ons, to lewd remarks and even groping on the House floor. Coming amid an intensifying national focus on sexual harassment and gender hostility in the workplace, the revelations underscore that no woman is immune, even at the highest reaches of government.
“This is about power,” said former California Sen. Barbara Boxer, after describing an incident at a hearing in the 1980s where a male colleague made a sexually suggestive comment. The colleague, using the traditional congressional parlance, said he wanted to “associate” himself with her remarks — adding afterward that he also wanted to “associate with the gentle lady.”
Boxer said the comment was met with general laughter and an approving second from the committee chairman. She said she later asked that it be removed from the record.
“That was an example of the way I think we were thought of, a lot of us. … It’s hostile […]