The exploitation of women… On injury in the General Assembly

“…the exploitation or injury of any person because of the power, status or social standing of another person is wrong.  In every instance it is wrong.”
Larry Drain “A personal statement” (Hopeworks Community)

The use of women as objects, as pieces of meat, as existing purely and totally for the sexual convenience of men is wrong. It is violence. And the widespread “blindness” of those that are aware of it is shameful. When injustice becomes usual, when exploitation is excused with “oh that is just the way things are….”, when people see and refuse to say and finally when they refuse to see at all something is terribly wrong.

There is a problem in the Tennessee General Assembly.

The links above tell a little of the story of Rep. Jeremy Durham. It appears, at least according to these stories and others I have read, that he is at minimum guilty of the sexual harassment of women who work at the General Assembly.

Stories I have read say his behavior was an open secret for a while.

He says he does not “remember” sending the emails in question or making any questionable remarks. One married colleague resigned in disgrace after their reported affair became public knowledge. Some colleagues according to reports justify their inaction by saying no “official” complaints had been filed. It seems to me that if you are being harassed, if you are being made to work in fear and if you had even a suspicion that the people in charge knew and were turning a blind eye you might decide that “official” complaints were pointless if not down right dangerous.

Reportedly this behavior had been known for about a year. A couple of months ago the accusations became public knowledge and Speaker Harwell and the Republican leadership has went into damage control.

They would like to see Rep. Durham go away. Those are not the election year questions they want to try to answer and it seems likely they have not given up on trying “to help” him decide to resign. His response is to say he “doesn’t remember” doing anything wrong and that the entire thing is a liberal plot to still a “leading conservative voice”.

Resign? He says he is running for reelection. And doubtless “the liberal conspiracy” will be a big part of his election effort.

It won’t be long until Speaker Harwell will begin telling everyone what a great legislative session they had. We have an official state rifle now. The Bible is the official state book (there is no requirement for lawmakers to read it). And the state doesn’t have to worry about having it’s lawmakers embarrassed by giving 280,000 Tennesseans health insurance. And the women who work there understand that there is one legislator who is prepared to ride the harassment and exploitation of the women he knew to victory and another term in the legislature.

I remember going into a committee meeting in the legislature and the chairmen talking about the importance of the audience respecting the dignity of the legislature.

Perhaps it is time to look in the mirror.


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