Her, too

The young law professor, excited about her new post, thought nothing of it when an older colleague asked that she come to his office, even though the man had a penchant for commenting on her appearance and telling off-color jokes in her presence. But in the privacy of his office, she said, it was like “a bad cartoon.”

The older professor chased her around the desk, “trying to get his hands on me,” as the young mother of two pleaded with him to stop. She said she was ready to punch him in the face if he caught her but she was able to escape. In what has become a familiar refrain in many of these anecdotes, instead of reporting him, the then-young woman said she questioned her own responsibility.

“I went back to my office and I just sat and shook and thought, ‘What had I done to bring this on?’” she wondered..

While the story could have been told in recent days by any number of anonymous or unknown women, the speaker was US Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who along with three other female senators told stories of being victims of sexual harassment and assaults. They joined a growing list of high-profile women who have come forward in #MeToo fashion to support each other in the wake of the explosive Harvey Weinstein case.

But one thing Warren and her colleagues who spoke with NBC’s Meet The Press have going for them is, in addition to giving voice to the growing movement, they can do something to change the laws, if not the attitudes. But, as is evidenced by the reaction of some, it’s going to be a long haul.

US Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri said when she was a young state legislator, single and in her early 20s, she went to the House speaker to ask how she could move one of her bills out of committee. His response stopped her in her tracks, she said.

“He paused and he looked at me and said, ‘Well, did you bring your kneepads?’” McCaskill said.

McCaskill’s revelation echoes what a young state representative in Rhode Island said recently. Rep. Teresa Tanzi said when she was first elected in 2010, a “high-ranking” lawmaker told her “sexual favors would allow my bills to go further.” Tanzi’s allegation prompted stunned leaders to launch an investigation, along with Rhode Island State Police, but it also triggered the kind of response from a former male legislator that too often makes women keep their mouths shut when they are victims of unwanted and uninvited comments and actions. Joe Delorenzo, the vice chairman of the state Democratic party to which Tanzi belongs, questioned her veracity, based on his two decades in the state legislature in the 70s and 80s.

“My first reaction is it goes right into the narrative that the far left wants portrayed out there,” Delorenzo said in a local radio interview. “Everything is sexual harassment today. If a woman walks into my office and I say to her, ‘boy, you look really nice in that dress,’ – sexual harassment. A woman walks in that I know – and we do this all the time, John – put your arm around her, give her a kiss on the cheek – sexual harassment, sexual harassment.”

Allow yourself to pause for a second and reread that quote, substituting “man” for “woman” and “him” for “her.” Somewhat difficult, since that rarely, if ever, occurs when one man compliments or puts his arm around and kisses another on the cheek. And now we’ll answer that for the clueless pol: yes, it is most definitely sexual harassment.

The #MeToo movement doesn’t feel like it’s something that is going away anytime soon. With a president who has admitted he sexually assaulted women, and high-profile cases such as Weinstein, ousted Fox News employees Bill O’Reilly and Roger AilesBoston celebrity chef Todd English, and other influential and powerful men trying to take advantage of their positions and women, the voices of the victims are rising.

Fidelity Investments, for one, has taken the bull by the horns. The company has hired a consulting firm to address the atmosphere caused by long-simmering reports of sexual harassment that resulted in the dismissal of at least two executives. What’s interesting to note is the sea change at Fidelity is being pushed while a woman, Abigail Johnsonis now at the helm of the legendary investment firm started by her grandfather and run by her father.

Between Warren and her colleagues and corporate executives such as Abby Johnson in a position to institute changes, maybe there will finally be some lasting shift. Lord knows, men haven’t done much about it.

JACK SULLIVAN


BEACON HILL

A report by state Auditor Suzanne Bump said regional school districts should be given taxation authority. (Telegram & Gazette)

A Boston Herald editorial takes lawmakers to task for refusing to earmark any of the potential revenues from the sale of legal marijuana for addiction treatment.

Sens. Jason Lewis and Barbara L’Italien say Alzheimer’s is a growing public health crisis in Massachusetts. (CommonWealth)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Developers are pouring more than $300 million into Worcester’s core downtown area, remaking the city. The Telegram & Gazette is launching a series on the city’s rebirth.

A minority law enforcement group is seeking to recruit Latino candidates for the Boston police force, where Hispanics make up only 9 percent of the department despite being 20 percent of the city’s population. (Boston Herald)

Despite the state’s strict gun control laws, there is no easy way to determine how many guns and rifles are in a community because licenses only track owners and there is no limit how many someone can own. (MetroWest Daily News)

Boston has seen a sharp spike in the number of discarded needles in parks in all of the city’s neighborhoods as a result of the ongoing opioid crisis. (Boston Herald)

With dog ownership on the rise, pet owners are flexing their muscles in lobbying for public dog parks and accommodations from developers in housing complexes. (Patriot Ledger) A 7-year-old boy in Lowell climbed over a fence into an enclosure with two pit bulls and was killed. (Lowell Sun)

Wayland selectmen are studying new reports that recommend changes in governance structure and in the town’s “fragmented” financial management. (MetroWest Daily News)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

US Rep. Stephen Lynch says he is working to repeal a bill passed by Republicans that curbed the authority of the Drug Enforcement Administration to crack down on opioid distribution. He said the measure was done by “sleight of hand.” (Keller@Large)

While President Trump has given himself and his administration an “A-plus” and a “10” for its response to hurricane relief, residents of Florida and Texas say they are waiting weeks for visits from FEMA inspectors and spend hours on hold in calls to the agency. (New York Times)

Sen. John McCain, who has fashioned himself into a major thorn in Trump’s side with a series of rebukes, took a not-so-veiled swipe at the president’s medical deferment for bone spurs in his heels to avoid getting drafted during the Vietnam War. (Time)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he would go for a bipartisan health bill if Trump will support it. (Associated Press)

A Colorado Cub Scout was exiled from his den, according to his mother, after he asked a state senator pointed questions about gun control and health care in a video that was picked up by local media. (New York Times)

ELECTIONS

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who is facing a reelection fight in Massachusetts and possibly considering a White House run, changes her tack with the media. She is now willing to talk to reporters in less unscripted moments. (Boston Globe)

Boston City Councilor Tito Jackson has gained name recognition and his favorables are up, but he’s behind by 35 points in his bid to defeat Mayor Marty Walsh. The same Suffolk University poll indicates only 22 percent of those surveyed are likely to purchase marijuana when it goes on sale legally. (Boston Globe) A Globe editorial backs Walsh’s reelection, applauding his efforts to build more housing and encouraging a focus on the city’s schools in a second term.

Boston Herald columnist Joe Battenfeld reports that Walsh called off a voluntary door-knocking campaign after the Herald began raising questions about it.

House Speaker Robert DeLeo stumps in Haverhill for Democrat Andy Vargas in the special election to fill the seat vacated by Brian Dempsey. (Eagle-Tribune)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

A shortage of auto mechanics is looming for car dealerships across the state, portending  a crisis for service and repairs. (Patriot Ledger)

Fidelity Investments hires a consulting firm to investigate whether the culture of its stock-picking division is hostile to women. (Boston Globe)

Film production spending is on the upswing in Georgia — $2.7 billion last year, up from $672 million five years ago  — since passage of a generous tax incentive that has drawn 16 film and TV studios to locate or expand facilities in the Peach Tree state. (U.S. News & World Report)

EDUCATION

Officials and taxpayers are dealing with sticker shock for the cost of building a new Cape Cod Regional Technical High School in Harwich, with the price rising to $128 million, bringing the per pupil cost with debt service to more than $25,000, higher than sending a student to a state university. (Cape Cod Times)

The empowerment zone in Springfield, where schools are given more flexibility in hiring and management, is expanding by adding an underperforming school and an honors program. (MassLive)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Edward M. Murphy says a deal between Abbvie and Amgen keeps Humira, the drug that’s become a money-making machine, rolling along. (CommonWealth)

TRANSPORTATION

Is House Speaker Robert DeLeo pushing a connection between the Red and Blue Lines? In a commentary supporting the Suffolk Downs bid for Amazon, the speaker said he is “enthusiastic about the opportunity to connect the East Boston-Revere coastal corridor to Kendall Square.” (WGBH)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

The Environmental Protection Agency canceled a scheduled appearance for three of its scientists today at a Rhode Island conference on climate change. (New York Times)

A ruling by a federal trade commission that low-cost imported solar panels caused serious injury to American manufacturers has triggered increased prices for homeowners to install panels through programs in three Metrowest communities. (MetroWest Daily News)

Researchers at the annual North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium say the increasing number of deaths in the mammals’ population is “apocalyptic.” (Cape Cod Times)

CASINOS

Twin Rivers Casino in Tiverton, R.I., just over the Fall River border, has pushed its opening date back three months because of construction and permitting delays, a move that will have implications for the Ocean State’s budget. (Providence Journal)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

District Court Judge Thomas Estes left the bench in August to perform administrative duties, which may be related to a sexual harassment allegation by a social worker once assigned to his courtroom. (Berkshire Eagle)