It doesn't matter what coast you're on, sexism is alive and well in America. And so is sexual harassment or at least "alleged" harassment.
On the East Coast, we have Anthony Weiner, a man who disgraced his then pregnant wife, his family, his party and I'm sure himself (or perhaps not). Weiner might have thought he'd escape the sex scandal that led to his resignation from Congress in 2011, but he could not, now that new online messages to a woman have emerged that were explicit in nature.
Now, some of you might say that's old news, Leslie, but it isn't. It's the timing that is new news. Weiner admits that even after getting caught, stepping down from office and nearly ruining his marriage, he continued his online sexcapades as if he were a pre-pubescent boy. Now he has apologized and his wife said it is between the two of them and their marriage. But I don't wholeheartedly agree.
When this whole episode was in the past, I, like the voters of New York, was willing to forgive, yes (forget, no). But when you find out this man chose not to control himself even after leaving Congress, it is clear he cannot control his sexual desires or perversions. It is also clear he cannot keep his oath in his marriage, and if he cannot keep his oath to his wife, how can he keep his promises as a politician, or if elected mayor, the oath he takes when entering office to his constiuents? And how can any woman feel safe to work with him? How can the people of New York, women especially, respect him?
And on the West Coast, you have the current mayor of San Diego, Bob Filner. Filner says he is "saddened" by the sexual harassment lawsuit filed against him by a former top aide. He says he has not harassed anyone sexually and that he will prevail in this lawsuit.
"Once due process is allowed to unfold, I am certain there will be a better understanding of this situation," Filner said in a statement. "I remain committed to the people of San Diego and the work that needs to be done." And he continued: "I do not believe these claims are valid. That is why due process is so important. I intend to defend myself vigorously and I know that justice will prevail."
The plantiff in this lawsuit, Irene McCormack Jackson, said Filner created an "intimidating and hostile" work environment for other women as well. "I saw him place his hands where they did not belong on numerous women," Jackson said. She also claims that Filner asked her to be alone with him to consummate their relationship and asked her to come to work without panties.
Filner says his behavior toward women is not sexual harassment. And he said he needs help.
Jackson's lawyer, Gloria Allred, who I have known for years and greatly admire, said Filner needs to stop "treating women as pieces of meat." She said his video apology was inadequate and that his statement that "I need help" is not sufficient. "Do you need help to know that making vile and disgusting sexual comments is wrong?" she asked.
So for me, Weiner's apology falls upon deaf ears. And Filner shouldn't be asking for help, he should be submitting his resignation.
Both owe it to the women on both coasts. We as women only win if we demand that these men remove themselves from public life and learn how to treat women with dignity and respect and as equals.
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