A Democratic Congresswoman is under fire for suggesting that women have the responsibility of watching how they dress and act, so as not to encourage sexual harassment.
81-year-old Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) told a Dallas-Fort Worth television station that women should not encourage sexual harassment by how they dress and act, warning that they should not exhibit “behaviors that appear to be inviting.”
The comments came in an interview about the Harvey Weinstein scandal and the exposure of widespread sexual harassment. Harvey Weinstein, a major Democratic donor and supporter, reportedly harassed and assaulted dozens of women over several decades. While Johnson says she believes Weinstein’s accusers, she says women bear the responsibility to watch their dress and behavior, that could invite sexual harassment.
Johnson admits that her views are “old school,” but is blunt in her comments. “I grew up in a time when it was as much the woman’s responsibility as the man’s — how you were dressed, what your behavior was,” she said.
She then said women should watch for “behaviors that appear to be inviting” to men. “It can be interpreted as such,” Johnson continued. “That’s the responsibility, I think, of the female.”
“I think we also need to start talking about the power that women have to control the situation,” she said. “There’s law enforcement, you can refuse to cooperate with that kind of behavior. I think that many times, men get away with this because they are allowed to get away with it by the women.”
Her comments stirred outrage across the board, as some felt she was blaming victims. She addressed the criticism, but stood by her initial comments. “It created a lot of opinion. I’ve lived with opinions all my life, and I do every day. I appreciate them. They rarely sway me, because I try my best to look at the issues from a fair standpoint, and when I take my positions I roll with the punches.”
“I don’t think there’s any woman anywhere that could look at anything in my record, of my legislative record or my behavior, that indicates that I don’t support women. But I do think that as adults we all have responsibility to do what it takes to try to protect ourselves as well.”
Here is video of Johnson’s initial comments.
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