Women across the nation have spoken out against sexual harassment in recent weeks, and now current and former members of Congress are joining them. Former California Sen. Barbara Boxer said that when she was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in the 1980s, a male colleague made a suggestive comment about her while she was presenting a bill in committee.
“I went right to the chairman and said this kind of talk is not OK," Boxer says. "And he said, 'Why we were just complimenting you.' I said, 'It’s not a compliment.' ”
Boxer says harassment is about people asserting their power. She thought things would change when Anita Hill accused now-Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment in 1991. Then Boxer was sure things would change in 1995 when Oregon Sen. Bob Packwood resigned following sexual abuse claims from multiple women. But neither episode altered much. Boxer says there needs to be a culture shift.
"I do think we’re at a moment here where everybody has to take a look inside themselves," she says. "And I also think we’re at a moment where the good men have to step up and help us. We women cannot win this on our own.”
Boxer says the election of President Trump, who has been accused by multiple women of harassment, has not helped the situation. But she says she believes a majority of people oppose such behavior and will continue to speak out against it.