Some women senators just can’t take a joke, or a compliment. Apparently Sen. Gillibrand considers unsolicited comments about her body from male colleagues in the Senate to be sexual harassment. The kerfuffle started when the liberal rag The New York Post released excerpts from her interview with People magazine.
“In a new interview with People magazine to promote her new book, ‘Off the Sidelines,’ Gillibrand recounts one incident when she was once working out in the House gym during renovations of the women’s facility.
“Good thing you’re working out, because you wouldn’t want to get porky!” one of her older male colleagues said. Her response: “Thanks, a—hole,” she said in an excerpt from her book.
An unidentified southern congressman once held the former upstate House member’s arm while walking her down the chamber’s center aisle. “You know, Kirsten, you’re even pretty when you’re fat,” he told her.
“I believed his intentions were sweet, even if he was being an idiot,” Gillibrand recounted.
Sure, Sen. Gillibrand might’ve pushed back in a playful manner in her memoir, but she needs to understand this is serious stuff! By taking the comments of unnamed male senators out of context, something the media didn’t do, she not only potentially hurt every single one of her male colleagues whose wives will undoubtedly now question their fidelity, but she also calls into question the validity of her claims. That’s because the bar for women is much lower in terms of proof simply because they’re much more readily believed in cases of sexual assault or harassment even though both are extremely rare.
Thankfully there are reporters like John Bresnahan of Politico who call out unfounded salacious accusations like these. They don’t rush to condemnation of unnamed male senators. Instead they reserve their judgment by discounting everything Senator Gillibrand might say without any substantial evidence to back up their assertions. They won’t check the context in which Senator Gillibrand made said anecdotes, but prematurely discount them out of hand. Reporters, more aptly called truth-feelers, like Bresnahan have no choice but to employ this tactic in order to right the scales lest innocent unnamed males be besmirched by wild accusations from a clearly opportunistic woman.
Frank Luntz, Republican pollster and paragon of veracity, tweeted his own spinhypothesis: “Is Kirsten Gillibrand only hiding the identities of the male senators who sexually harassed her because they are Democrats?” More than likely! Why else would she not name names?! Could it be that the context of the interview focused on a personal anecdote from her memoir? Could it be that she was merely offhandedly commenting on the misogynistic undertones of our society that women from all walks of life face everyday? Absolutely not! It’s clear she’s loathe to inform on her Democratic colleagues for fear of hurting her presidential aspirations, if what she says is true of course, which it probably isn’t.
That’s why Senator Gillibrand has been pressured by members of the media to name names. It’s the only way to salvage her already crumbling credibility. As Joe Scarborough of MSNBC, ally and champion of women, along with his co-host Mika Brzezinski noted it’s “weak” for Gillibrand remain silent on the identity of her alleged harassers. “She needs to name names for the sake of the women who are represented by these men, who are sexually harassing her,” Scarborough said on Friday’s Morning Joe. Precisely. It’s not as if she won’t be readily believed, or her motives won’t be scrutinized to degrees her male colleagues aren’t subjected to. It’s not as if the mainstream media wont’ impugn her integrity with even more voraciousness.
Senator Gillibrand has shown herself to be wholly irresponsible with the handling of this story. As a senator she should know that Americans, especially politicians and their sycophantic stenographers in the media, rarely like to hear uncomfortable truths. Kirsten Gillibrand isn’t an example that even women in positions of high authority and prestige are subject to crude, and immoral behavior from their male colleagues. We simply can’t know that. We refuse to know that, because without the onus of unreasonable expectations regarding proof of a victim’s assertions our society couldn’t function as it does. Without a knee-jerk reactionary media that’s caught up in victim blaming, along with taking things out of context for the sole purpose to create scandals for their own agenda we might have to reexamine how little we value the contributions of women in our society.
We just might find that women like Kirsten Gillibrand, a Senator and an attorney, along with the lowliest female congressional summer intern are worthy of the same respect, and consideration we give to unnamed males.
(Image Credit: AP Photo)