Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) is a big fan of the “me too” movement and said she has had “too many” instances throughout her life where she’s been the victim of sexual misconduct, but she said it’s going to take more than a social media hashtag to make systemic changes.
During an interview with CNN on Friday morning, Dingell spoke about a “prominent, historical” figure in Congress who she said used to act aggressively toward her. She also recounted an instance in which she said this man placed his hand on her leg and was trying to move it up her thigh before she took his hand off. A female colleague noticed the contact and switched seats with her.
“We watch out for each other. That’s the other thing we need to do, but we’ve got to change. People need to speak up, men and women need to speak up and say it’s not okay,” she said.
CNN host Alisyn Camerota pressed Dingell several times throughout the interview to share who the man was, but Dingell refused, saying there are still “consequences” to the “me too” stories.
“Women are still going to play the consequences. That’s what I want to figure out. How do we protect the survivor so that in the end they’re not labeled a troublemaker? It sounds great for the moment, but are they going to be able to get the next job?” she said.
“For too many women those ‘me too’ stories are going to have consequences,” she continued. “Economic, if you’re a waitress, if you’re on the factory floor or small business, if you target the small business, where’s their job? … I would still pay a price if I were to name some of them.”
Dingell’s remarks follow the introduction of legislation Wednesday — spearheaded by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) — that would overhaul the way Congress handles sexual harassment complaints. That bill was spurred on by a number of people who have gone public with stories of sexual harassment and assault by prominent men, from Capitol Hill to Hollywood.
After movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was accused by several prominent actresses of sexual misconduct, people across the world started sharing their personal stories of harassment and assault online, using the hashtag #metoo.
When LA radio host Leeann Tweeden shared her story of alleged sexual misconduct by Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) on Thursday, she tweeted a link to an op-ed with the same “me too” hashtag.