Like so many of you, I was deeply moved when I read that Time Magazine named The Silence Breakers as Time's Person of the Year. Our country is waking up because women (and men) are speaking up and speaking out. By raising our voices, we can hold perpetrators of sexual harassment and assault accountable.
This treatment of women is more than a single perpetrator or incident; it is an engrained part of our culture that has created a gross imbalance of power in which the burden is placed on women to hold their perpetrators accountable, while powerful men settle claims in back rooms with "hush money," create impediments to justice, like 90-day waiting periods to report an incident, and literally threaten women's lives and livelihoods.
We are fortunate here in New Mexico to have leaders like Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse, who has recently committed to tackling this problem head on in our own State Legislature. I am inspired by women in New Mexico who have come forward to say, 'enough', and to hold accountable men who have used their power and position to harass, assault, and manipulate.
In Congress, I will do everything in my power to expose these same injustices, and place the responsibility on perpetrators to be accountable to their behavior.
- No taxpayer dollars should ever be used by a Congressperson to pay off their victim,
- We must have accessible tools in place to report and investigate incidents when they happen -- and empower and encourage women to use them,
- Women who come forward must be protected from retaliation and "blacklisting,"
- Sexual harassment training must be more than just check in the box; Members of Congress need to hear real stories and real impacts, and both women and men need to learn how to intervene so that we all are empowered to stop this behavior, and
- We must recognize that sexual harassment is more than just a perpetrator or problem that can be fixed through policy and procedure. These things absolutely matter; but until women are embraced, treated, recognized, and rewarded as fully equal members of our society, including having the ability to achieve the pay, position, and power that is rightfully ours, we will only be using bandaids to cure what is the widespread cultural illness of misogyny and sexism.
Like so many women, I've worked hard and climbed the ladder in my career, and I've faced many moments in which I was told to get to the back of the line and had my accomplishments diminished. I've fought my own battles to get to where I am today, and it wasn't easy. I spoke up, and thankfully, so many courageous women are speaking up and being heard. It's inspiring and motivating.
Ultimately, the best way to stop sexual harassment in Congress, and in every workplace, is to hire and elect more women.