As more and more women recount stories online of times they were sexually assaulted and harassed as part of the #MeToo campaign on social media, Rep. Jackie Speier reminded people that Capitol Hill was no haven from such behavior.
The California Democrat posted Friday a video on Twitter detailing a time a senior staffer allegedly assaulted her.
“The chief of staff held my face, kissed me, and stuck his tongue in my mouth,” Speier said in the video. “So I know what it’s like to keep these things hidden deep down inside.”
The #MeToo campaign started more than a decade ago with a New York gender equality activist but caught fire in the wake of the scandal around allegations of sexual harassment and assault against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.
Four female Democratic senators, including Massachusetts’ Elizabeth Warren and Missouri’s Claire McCaskill, described their experiences to “Meet the Press” last Sunday.
Speier continued that conversation Friday, highlighting Congress’s flaws when it comes to respecting women in the workplace.
“Congress has been a breeding ground for a hostile work environment for far too long,” she said. “That’s why I’m reaching out to Congressional staff and to former Congressional staff to share their ‘Me Too’ Congress stories, if they feel comfortable doing so.”
In 2014 Speier led an effort to secure $500,000 in funding for the Congressional Office of Compliance to go toward sexual harassment prevention training for staffers and members.
“The American people expect us to conduct ourselves in a manner befitting the responsibilities and duties that we hold as members of Congress, not as if we are freshmen in a frat house,” Speier said at the time.
But she and other members of Congress were unable to secure a mandate that all offices must undergo sexual conduct training.
Such training is mandatory in workplaces all over America — including in the executive branch.
As millions of women come forth on social media with stories of their experience with sexual harassment or simple #MeToo messages, Speier renewed her calls Friday to hold Congressional offices more accountable.
“It’s time to throw back the curtain,” she said, “on the repulsive behavior that until now has thrived in the dark without consequences.”