Another day, another woman demeaned by a man in power. So discouraging, so degrading, so common!
Sen. Dan Schoen’s response to the allegations that he has sexually harassed multiple women — including that they are “either completely false or have been taken far out of context. It was never my intention to leave the impression I was making an inappropriate advance on anyone” — just goes to show how removed he is from the experiences of women in our society.
How could someone who is commenting on a colleague’s “ass” not know it was inappropriate? Even more chilling was his text to an unknown person that referred to his predatory behavior as if it were hunting season in Minnesota — a mostly male sport with a clear objective of “bagging” the chosen prey.
We are sick of this!
Of course, anyone accused must be given a chance to defend themselves, but strong leadership would have insisted on immediate repercussions for this kind of behavior. Once multiple women came forward (which is NOT an easy thing to do), these incidents should have been made public, Schoen should have stepped down, and leadership should have made it clear to all who walk those hallowed walls of our Minnesota Capitol that demeaning behavior toward anyone will not be tolerated!!
This means elected officials, lobbyists, or citizens who are just there for the day. Our public buildings are meant to be a place of safety, of free expression. It is intimidating enough for people to go to the Capitol to try to engage with policy-makers. If we think that we will subjected to prurient evaluation, or worse, why even bother trying to make our voices known? This behavior by our leaders simply serves to strongly discourage citizens from taking an active role in the fate of their state and/or communities.
This is not a game to the public. It is not an opportunity for “locker room” commentary. It is not a place for “boys to be boys.” We’re angry. We’ve had enough. We will not take this anymore.
So stop. Stop now. And, Sen. Schoen, get the hell out of our lives!!!
Pam Neary is a former state legislator and a member of the St. Croix Valley Women’s Alliance.