California Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier is encouraging other Congresswomen to don black for President Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech next week, in an effort to express solidarity with sexual harassment victims, the way A-list actresses at the Golden Globes did.
Christening the movement, “#MeTooCongress,” Speier and her colleagues at the Democratic Women’s Working Group are inviting men and women “across the political spectrum” to join in the show of support, which, of course, just happens to target the president (though, to be fair, among other members of the federal government accused of sexual impropriety).
“This is a culture change that is sweeping the country, and Congress is embracing it,” Speier told the Huffington Post.
To date, several members of Congress have been among the men targeted by the #MeToo movement, and two — Rep. John Conyers and Sen. Al Franken, both Democrats — have resigned their posts after they were accused of sexual harassment and gender-based discrimination.
Several other members of Congress, including Texas Republican Rep. Blake Farenhold, have been asked to repay tens of thousands of dollars paid out by a Congressional fund to settle sexual harassment and discrimination suits leveled against them by former aides.
The president, as Huffington Post helpfully reminds its readers, has also faced accusations of sexual harassment and abuse by a number of women who came forward with their claims ahead of the presidential election in 2016. Despite extensive media scrutiny, and more than a year’s worth of investigative reporting, however, many of those claims have yet to be verified, and the president denies the allegations.
Unfortunately for Speier and others, the “Time’s Up” black dress code may be as much of a farce in Congress as it was in Hollywood, where women who palled around with Harvey Weinstein for decades believed donning a designer black frock would suddenly wash away their culpability in covering up his allegedly abusive behavior.
Both Speier herself — and Democratic Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi — cast doubt on Conyers’s accusers in the face of public outcry, with Pelosi going so far as to call Conyers an “American icon” and defending him on Sunday morning talk shows. Other Democratic Congresswomen, like New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, refused to believe Sen. Al Franken’s accusers, applying their “zero tolerance” standard against sexual harassment only when Franken was accused of misbehavior by more than a dozen women.