Women Rally, Demand Action at Sexual Harassment Protest at State Capitol

November 17, 2017 06:41 PM

The call to action against sexual harassment first gained real traction online through the #MeToo movement.

Soon after, it wasn't just high profile Hollywood figures being accused. It moved into the realm of politics.


"I have had dozens of women reach out to me with horrific stories about the harassers I named and other people," Rep. Erin Maye Quade at a demonstration at the Capitol rotunda Friday. 

Quade and others have recently come forward accusing Sen. Dan Schoen and Rep. Tony Cornish of sexual harassment in government.

RELATED: DFL Leaders Say They've Asked Schoen to Resign; No Way to Force Him Out

"We knew that we would have you guys and that is why we felt safe enough to step forward," Lindsey Port said, another woman who has accused Schoen of inappropriately touching her at a political event in 2015.

They were just two of several women who stepped up to the microphone to share intimate and emotional stories of situations that have made them feel less-than in the past.

"Just about every woman I know has a sexual harassment story and women are now sharing those things," Lisa Waldner, an associate dean and professor of sociology at the University of St. Thomas. Among other topics, she studies social movements and how timing can invoke real change in a society that has tolerated bad behavior for decades.

RELATED: Dayton Calls for Government-Wide 'Tightening' of Response to Sexual Harassment

"When I was a teenager in the 1970's, it was common for boys to walk down the hallway and snap your bra," she said. "That was what they did. And they were often friends with you, but it really wasn't OK," she said. "Still, it was accepted as boys just being boys."

As the years have passed, something has now changed as people come out from behind their computers and put their faces in front of the cause.

"The worst part about this is not that my harassers harassed me," Maye Quade said. It's that they don't think what they did is wrong. And the people who don't think what they did is wrong are in the way. And they need to get out of the way."

Waldner believes action like the protest at the Capitol on Friday is necessary for a movement to move beyond the boundaries of the internet and into real policy change.

The 50 plus men and women at the demonstration want to see the Equal Rights Amendment added to the Minnesota Constitution and are demanding legislative leaders take further action against Sen. Schoen and Rep. Cornish.

Both accused lawmakers deny allegations of sexual harassment.



Katherine Johnson

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