The Andrew Cuomo case is a good example of American politics
The 165-page report detailing allegations of a pattern and practice of sexual harassment by Gov. Andrew Cuomo reads like a political obituary. It is no wonder that New York state legislators are pushing for impeachment.Cuomo continues to deny the allegations. He impliedly blamed one of the women who made allegations against him in a prepared statement streamed online after the report was released.
He said he was just trying to help the woman who said she was a survivor of sexual assault. I heard him say that women who have survived assault are damaged goods and should not be trusted. He said that he is too old, too friendly, or just too eager to assist and that the sands have happily shifted under the feet of politicians like Cuomo who might have previously gotten away with this alleged behavior.
The options for women who were aware of Cuomo's reputation of unwanted touching, touching and kissing would have been limited to being forced to either work elsewhere or deal with it. The allegations of sexual harassment and retaliation detailed in James' report have implications far beyond Cuomo, and hopefully that era is nearing an end and James' report will prove the times are changing. One of the conclusions of the James report was that Cuomo created a hostile work environment for women.
Interviews with 179 people and testimony from at least 11 women resulted in that finding. The report was put together almost a year ago. Over time, the culture of sexual harassment was cultivated.
It is not likely that Cuomo's office is the only one that operates this way. Think about the women who work for men who are more than a bit friendly and free with their hands and their words, as well as the many ways in which we describe politics. It is either rough and tumble or hard-charging.
Have these phrases been used to cover bad behavior? It is surely. If people can't deal with teasing or behavior that is all in good fun, then maybe they should get out and leave politics to people who are really tough.
It's possible that all of this can contribute to the lack of gender representation in government. Eight of our governors are women. There are not more women in positions of political power because of poorly behaved politicians like Cuomo.
Of course not. Cuomo's alleged behavior isn't an isolated incident or that it doesn't have a ripple effect or that more equal gender representation in society at large is hampered by it. In some cases, people can be wrongly accused and this can leave a stain on their personal and professional lives that will never be forgiven.
Behavior can be seen in different ways. The behavior described in James' report does not appear to be a case of miscommunication. The findings of the report cannot be squared with the behavior Cuomo claims to have engaged in.
That would require the possibility of parallel universes, one in which we believe independent investigators and at least 11 women and 179 people total who were interviewed for the report, and at the same time believe a besieged politician staring down political ruin. He is facing enormous political pressure to step down. This could lead to impeachment proceedings.
The behavior described in the report provides plenty of evidence to move forward with civil suits. If prosecutors believe Cuomo's behavior is a criminal violation, they could bring criminal charges. The causes of our lack of gender representation need to be addressed beyond Cuomo.
James' report will not solve the problem, but it could help put a nail in the coffin of government offices that perpetuate gender inequality."