Before the “Shitty Media Men” was created to warn other woman about serial abusers and sexual harassers in New York City’s media and literary industries, women who work in the Texas statehouse kept a shared document of their own for a similar purpose—tracking abuse and inappropriate behavior by elected male lawmakers and staffers, according to reporting by The Daily Beast.
Although it’s not known how many women contributed their experiences to the shared spreadsheet, dubbed the “Burn Book of Bad Men,” anonymous contributors named 38 lawmakers, legislative staffers, and campaign aides whose alleged conduct ranged from creepy remarks to sexual assault and harassment. The Daily Best didn’t obtain the full list but reviewed excerpts of the document this week.
The men named are also mostly Democrats, as Democratic women were the first to create and circulate the list. The story details stunning allegations of sexual harassment, like a story shared by Karen Brooks, a former political reporter at The Dallas Morning News, who told the site many of the Texas legislature’s “lecherous” men propositioned her during her 16 years on the Capitol beat:
One state senator allegedly asked, “Why don’t you come over to my apartment and let me chase you around the room?”
A state representative told her, “I’ve been undressing you in my mind all session.”
Brooks also said she was assaulted by a “low-level Republican state representative” who “physically trapped me up against the bar and groped me” at a bar just off the statehouse grounds.
When the elected official went from groping her breast and thigh with both hands to reaching between her legs, she recounted pushing him away with a chair until other state representatives and lobbyists intervened, but the man allegedly yelled after her: “Bitch, I’m not done with you yet!”
A male friend of one of the women, dubbed John, also recounted a chilling instance of sexual harassment from a “powerful House member.”
From the Daily Beast:
“Two sessions ago, in 2015, late one night, myself and a colleague and a lobbyist were drinking whiskey in the office with a powerful House member. And I see his hand go on [the lobbyist’s] thigh under the table,” he said. “My first thought was: ‘Well, do I need to be discreet? Maybe this is consensual and I need to act like I don’t see it?’”
“And then, while she was sitting across the table from us, she sends us a text message that says: ‘Please don’t leave me alone with him.’”
It’s far from the first time we’ve heard about how the halls of government are far from safe spaces for women. In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein revelations, statehouses across the country have seen an explosion of sexual harassment allegations. And last week, current and former female members of Congress shared their stories of being sexual harassed by their male colleagues with the Associated Press.
Each rash of new stories feels, somehow, more demoralizing than the last. But it’s only by speaking out—and naming names, if you feel safe doing so—that we’ll begin to affect broader cultural change.