Quote of the Day: “Sexual harassment is bipartisan”

If the events that have unfolded at FitzGibbon Media over the last week have surprised you, you haven’t been paying attention.

I am twenty-four years old and in my two short years of post-college employment, more friends than I can count on two hands have suffered harassment and assault at their jobs at so-called “progressive” organizations. They have grinned and borne it, transferred offices, attempted to unionize, or quit; not one has reported it. Some were outspoken just a year prior about sexual assault on their campuses, but when it came to speaking out in the workplace, they found it much harder.

Yesterday Emily Crockett published a powerful piece over at Vox, in which she spoke to women at progressive organizations about their experiences with sexual harassment and assault. Harassment, one woman said, is “bipartisan and almost like a rite of passage in D.C…. Trevor [FitzGibbon] certainly isn’t the only one in the progressive space who has done this to me or women I’ve known, and he won’t be the last.”

Another woman said:

In more than a decade in the movement, I’ve never worked at a progressive organization or campaign where sexual harassment wasn’t an issue of some kind. I think it’s a lot harder for progressive organizations to create a space that’s free from that than people think it is.

Victims of workplace harassment choose not to report for so many reasons. But one — perhaps particular to progressive spaces, perhaps not — is an expectation (of each other, of ourselves) that we put the issues we work on and care about before our own comfort and safety. There’s a sentiment I’ve heard, that if we speak up about the discrimination we’re facing in our workplace, we’ll distract from the plaintiff whose discrimination case we’re arguing, that if we call out an abuser in the office, we’ll take time away from the victims we’re trying to support outside of it. Advancing the progressive issues that brought us to the work becomes about keeping quiet when they break down in our midst. And abusive employers count on it.

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New Haven, CT

Dana Bolger is a Senior Editor at Feministing and the co-founder of Know Your IX, the national youth-led organization working to end gender violence in schools. She's testified before Congress on Title IX policy and legislative reform, and her writing has appeared in a number of outlets, including The New York Times, Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. She's also a student at Yale Law School, and you can find her on Twitter at @danabolger.

Dana Bolger is a Senior Editor at Feministing and a student at Yale Law School.

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