Johnson Backs Away From Sexual Harassment Remarks

Texas congresswoman said she remembered when ‘it was as much the woman’s responsibility as the man’s’

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas, walked back her comments about sexual assault. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson walked back comments she made about women sharing responsibility in sexual harassment and assault.

The Texas Democrat’s remarks were initially in response to allegations about Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein sexually assaulting numerous women.

“I grew up in a time when it was as much the woman's responsibility as it was a man’s — how you were dressed, what your behavior was,” she told Dallas TV outlet NBC5. “I’m from the old school that you can have behaviors that appear to be inviting. It can be interpreted as such. That’s the responsibility, I think, of the female. I think that males have a responsibility to be professional themselves.”

But Johnson followed up with a statement Thursday saying she did not blame victims for sexual assault.

“I do acknowledge that my comments regarding behavior and attire come from an old school perspective that has shaped how some of us understand the issue,” she said. “[B]ut that does not detract from the fact that criminals need to be held accountable for their actions.”

She credited many of the women who came forward for allowing there to be a dialogue about “systemic issues we face as a society.”

“Ultimately, we need to unequivocally support the victims of sexual assault and harassment as best we can while working to hold the perpetrators accountable for their actions,” she said. “And supporting all women in this fight will continue to be my life’s work.”

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