By now, if you pay attention to the local news, you’ve heard about the 4 women who have come out and told their stories of sexual harassment and assault by then State Representative Brendan Williams.
Brendan is someone I’ve followed closely and gotten to know fairly well since his time at the legislature. We message each other fairly regularly, kvetching about politics mostly, and have had a good rapport. His progressive politics and straightforward and direct approach was something I appreciated.
Yesterday, before the article naming him and his victims, Brendan commented on a Facebook post of the original Olympian article that called out the culture of harassment at the legislature. He applauded one of the women who spoke out for her bravery. One woman who was a victim of Brendan replied to the comment, bravely telling her story and calling him out as a hypocrite. He soon deactivated his Facebook account in response.
I was made aware of it all and at the urging of a friend I texted Brendan. I told him that if he made mistakes in the past hiding from them won’t change them. I told him I support him in being honest about it and offered to help him use his experience to educate other men and start to change the culture. He responded by blaming the victim, painting a picture of her being erratic and making bad decisions. He also claimed to be one of the only legislators who would actually report misconduct in their workplace.
Given the opportunity to come clean and do the right thing, Brendan chose to hide and blame the victim. That’s not ok.
can must do better. I want to know who is with me in creating a culture where we no longer tolerate this kind of behavior from our fellow men. A culture where we own up when we screw up and we support women, don’t call them crazy, dismiss them, or make them feel like their jobs are at risk if they speak up.
The path ahead is pitch black. I don’t know how to move forward. We have to work on this together. This is me fumbling for the flashlight.