On Sunday, former Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina joined many women who are speaking out against sexual harassment and assault, specifically on Capitol Hill and said she, too, was consistently harassed during her lifetime. In an interview with Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace Fiorina criticized how Congress treats sexual harassment reports and essentially said, "me too."
The reckoning against sexual harassment and assault took the nation by storm after The New York Times reported a blistering list of allegations against film producer Harvey Weinstein on Oct. 5. Although Weinstein has denied accusations of non-consensual sex, the broader conversation on sexual violence in workplaces showed no signs of slowing down and reached the tech industry, media ranks, and of course, politics.
While speaking about the Office of Compliance's complicated system for filing a report of sexual harassment in Congress, Fiorina told Wallace, "the most helpful thing would be for Congress to change its own process and procedures." The former presidential candidate described the process, which is lengthy and often exhausting, to Wallace and said:
That whole process is designed to protect politicians, Democrats and Republicans alike, to protect the institution and to make it next to impossible for a woman, or in some cases a young boy page, to come forward. That ought to change, that would actually help.
Fiorina also spoke of her experience with sexual harassment and told Wallace that while she was not raped or assaulted, she was indeed taken advantage of. "Every woman I know was [harassed]. I don't mean I’ve been raped or assaulted in some of the ways these women have. But what, was I groped by a friend of my family? Of course. Was I propositioned? Of course. Was I introduced as a bimbo? Of course. Did I have on occasion men banging on my hotel room door and then lying about it the next morning? Of course," Fiorina said.
She told the Fox News Sunday host that while not all men are guilty of violating a woman's personal space and sense of dignity, many were complicit in the act of abusing power. "My point is not that most men are bad — most men are good and respectful. And many, many men have helped many women, myself included. But the perennial abuse of power by men over women has been with us for a long time. And everyone knows it. Women know it, and men know it," she said.
Fiorina isn't the only one criticizing the official procedure to report sexual harassment on Capitol Hill. California Democrat Rep. Jackie Speier, like Fiorina, has recently spoken out against the system and described it as hostile to victims coming forward with their complaints. The system, Speier said, was "toothless" and "not a victim-friendly process" but "an institution-protection process." It ultimately "encumbers the victim in ways that are indefensible," according to Speier. New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand echoed that and described the process as having "archaic and, frankly, bizarre rules."
In the wake of all of the accusations of sexual harassment and assault in the nation right now, female politicians on Capitol Hill and across the country have taken measures to address sexual harassment within the Congress and beyond. Initiatives include mandatory sexual harassment training for both House and Senate members, an anti-sexual harassment open letter signed by female lawmakers from the state of California, and Twitter hashtags like #MeTooCongress.
And like Fiorina called for — change on Capitol Hill — Speier and Gillibrand recently introduced new legislation called the "Me Too" Act, which would reform the way Congress handles sexual harassment complaints.