Lt. Gov. Matt Michels continues to staunchly resist allegations from multiple sources that sexual harassment is a big problem in our Legislature. The President of the Senate’s latest resistance stretches the accusations of a “culture” of misogyny into false universal claims:
…it is not fair when people say there’s a culture or things like that, then there must be various cultures at universities where everybody drinks. That’s not true [Lt. Gov. Matt Michels, interview, “Lt. Governor Says Sexual Harassment Incidents Need to Be Reported,” Hub City Radio, 2017.11.08].
Actually, Lt. Gov. Michels, we can refer to a culture of problem drinking on various college campuses, in which fraternity parties, tailgating, and other social events feature excessive drinking, without stating that every person on a university campus drinks, just as we can refer to a culture of misogyny in the Legislature, in which many women experience inappropriate sexual comments and advances paired with intimidation by powerful men, without positing that every man in Pierre treats every woman poorly.
No one is accusing every legislator and lobbyist of ogling, groping, or otherwise harassing women. It’s unfair and untruthful to try shifting the argument to that extreme, universal, and obviously untrue accusation. The allegations are about specific instances of sexual harassment and assault that are facilitated by power, booze, isolation, and other cultural factors that are real and should be addressed.