Should We Love You When Your Bad: Nancy Pelosi and Sexual Harassment

In defense of her refusal to call her colleagues to accountability on sexual harassment, particularly Representative John Conyers, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi gives the implausible explanation that in her three decades in Washinton she has never experienced sexual harassment.

I suspect most women these days will find this attempt at minimizing an obviously systemic problem laughable, and sad.

Damaging to the Democratic party says the LA Times and Vanity Fair this week. No doubt. All her statements say is the problem is so pervasive and entrenched the people who have been there the longest and who have the most power don’t even recognize it.

Granted I run in different circles, but consider:

At fourteen I worked in a small bakery at night packaging cookies. The other women were going home but I wanted to finish my quota so I told a friend, who was older and much wiser to the working world, that I was going to stay a little longer. She cautioned me: ok, but watch out- the boss can get a little frisky. I wasn’t quite sure what that would mean but told her I was sure I’d be fine. I returned to concentrating on finishing up my cookies and next thing you know I have my old, shriveled, ghost white boss standing next to me with nothing on his bottoms, his dick sticking straight out at me and his shriveled hairy old balls hanging out. I blurted out the first thing that came to mind, “Oh that is just gross!” and he returned to his office without a word.

Sexual Harassment?

From when I first joined the military until about 2009, three years before my retirement there was a constant grinding presence:

Male soldiers fake whimpering and boohooing at us during sexual harassment training and when we responded with irritation, there constant reply, “What’s the matter, can’t take a joke!”

This example seems minor but it was all-pervasive and relentless. The message was clear, we are a band of brothers, we want to keep it that way, and we don’t have your back.

Being told in so many words over and over on my Afganistan deployment that I wasn’t equal to the male team members although we did the same job, same tasks, same danger, and horror, somehow I didn’t really understand combat and wasn’t part of the team.

Getting slammed up against a wall and groped by a superior officer while he growled at me, “You don’t belong here.”

These are just a few examples pulled out of a rich and varied life and I don’t consider myself at all unusual. I know women who have suffered worse and more continuous harassment and assault. From what the younger women have told me this has been their lot in life as well.

Many have said out of all of the recent harassment complaints Conyers, in particular, seems to be a good man. He is served in the Korean War, worked a lifetime in civil rights.

Can we excuse the sexual harassment because he seems to be an otherwise good man?

Among the men that harassed me, there were some otherwise good men, pillars of their communities, known to be moral and good.

And yet…

Why the need to objectify? That is a much longer story.

For now, the question remains: should we support you (the harassers) unconditionally, even when your bad?

About Frances Wiedenhoeft

After a lifetime in nursing, anesthesia and the Army I now write, blog, attend school for journalism and massage, and watch my 3 grandchildren. I am a veteran of Desert Storm, Iraq and Afghanistan and try to serve other vets such as myself, and to work for peace.
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