Sexual harassment appears to be a cultural problem in Congress as well as in South Dakota’s Capitol. The Washington Post reports that Congress keeps sexual harassment suits against its members secret by forcing accusers to submit to counseling, mediation, non-disclosure agreements, and secret payments from the taxpayers, not from the harassers, and arrangement that even Fox News appears to find objectionable.
Democratic candidate for U.S. House Tim Bjorkman thus enters the discussion with this essay on the harms of sexual assault and other forms of abuse:
In the cases that came before me during my time as a judge, I witnessed, too many times to count, the damaging impact of violent and sexual offenses upon victims. The scars that abuse leaves behind on victims’ lives are devastating and they last for life. In fact, our prisons are populated with men and women who are survivors of childhood abuse, many struggling with addiction and underlying mental disorders. Over half the women and a sizable majority of men in prisons today were abused as children – either physically, sexually, or both.
Abuse in all its forms is highly corrosive to society; it is also a problem that, as a community, we have tolerated far too long. So let’s be frank: we have a problem across our culture with people in power and authority abusing others in ways that devastate lives and we must confront it. The conduct that has surfaced in Pierre is symptomatic of a state-wide and a nation-wide problem [Tim Bjorkman, Facebook post, 2017.11.11].
Bjorkman cheers the trend of victims coming forward and driving a discussion of sexual harassment and abuse. Bjorkman also reaches for some policy measures that could ease the gender power differentials that foster harassment and abuse:
While we’re at it, we should also strive to improve the lives of every woman by ensuring equal pay for equal work and protection from workplace and educational discrimination when pregnant. And we should support families by encouraging paid family leave, and seeing to it that all Americans, including children and their caregivers, have affordable healthcare. Finally we should ensure that all adults have access to contraceptives – including those who cannot afford them [Bjorkman, 2017.11.11].
Bjorkman also endorses the idea that we may reduce the abuse-promoting power differential by electing more women:
Ultimately, one way to address the problem of abuse and at the same time enact legislation that safeguards the rights of every person is to achieve more gender balance in government. There is encouraging news on that front: more and more women are stepping forward as candidates for the state Legislature. Having strong representation in government from both genders will strengthen the quality of our laws and play a pivotal role in creating a more conducive environment for good government [Bjorkman, 2017.11.11].
Wise guys on Team Krebs may take that comment as Bjorkman’s endorsement of his own GOP opponent. But Bjorkman here offers a more cogent and complete response to the discussion of sexual harassment in Pierre, in Washington, and throughout our culture than I’ve heard from either Krebs or fellow Republican candidate Dusty Johnson so far this grim fall.