My local news has been buzzing about bad boy Bob Filner, a decorated war veteran, former congressman and San Diego’s embattled mayor. It appears that Mayor Filner is a serial sexual harasser. Much to everyone’s chagrin, he continued his bad boy behavior into the mayor’s office (obviously ignored or accepted by the military and Congress), and has been “outed” by three highly articulate and credible women.
The women’s testimonies, given through interviews with the media, outline Filner’s unwanted sexual advances and, in some cases, sexual assaults. When you force a woman against her will to kiss you by laying your hands on her face and forcing her to submit; that is assault. As a woman, I am not merely angry I am incensed that the mayor of San Diego has not been arrested. What makes me even crazier is that the City Council and the citizens of San Diego cannot get rid of him without a costly and lengthy recall petition.
Refusing to resign, Mayor Filner has hunkered down in his office while spewing out excuses, apologies and threats, which only support the allegations of the women he has abused. It shows him to be the same coward who cornered women (who knows how many) and used his position of power to harass and intimidate them. His arrogance knows no bounds.
This whole Filner kerfuffle has brought to my mind the many times I was sexually harassed in my career.
At a radio station I was interviewed by the male program manager and sales manager. We met in a restaurant and I was shown to a booth and moved against the wall, while the sales manager sat next to me and the program manager sat opposite. While the program manager asked me questions, I kept feeling his foot under the table moving up my leg. I thought I was misinterpreting the leg action. All doubt was dispelled when the sales manager placed his hand high on my thigh and squeezed it while he asked, “Do you consider yourself a team player?”
Then there were the times my former boss, who had been a colleague at one time, but had been promoted over me, would pinch my breast as I passed him in the hallway. It was annoying, but not enough for me to go to HR. The final straw was when he took to grabbing my shoulders and kissing me on the mouth — never when anyone was around. The first time he did this, I was so shocked I stopped talking. He laughed and said, “I knew that would shut you up.” I needed the job and since it was his word against mine, I kept silent and avoided him.
I also had a boss who was so horrible that I didn’t last long with him. While I was at work, he would look over my shoulder and criticize everything I did, from the way I sat in my chair to what I was typing. He didn’t like my dress. He didn’t like the way I organized my desk. He didn’t like anything I did. He would shout at me and call me names until I was nearly in tears. At 12 noon on the dot, he would invite me to lunch. He took me to the nicest restaurants in town. He gave me his arm, pulled out my chair, spoke very kindly, and then he went from table to table to talk to his business acquaintances. As soon as we returned to the office, he would start shouting and belittling me. I admit that I was somewhat naive as it took me a week to realize that I was the “eye-candy” to show off to his colleagues. It was humiliating. I quit.
Now that Gloria Allred has filed suit against Mayor Filner, representing San Diego’s Communication Director Irene McCormack Jackson, the pressure is on. Jackson not only witnessed Filner’s frequent sexual harassment of other women, but she was also a victim of it. He got her in a headlock, while whispering sexual comments. He asked her to work without her panties. He treated her like a “sexual object” or “an idiot.”
Two other women reinforce Jackson’s testimony. Morgan Rose, a psychologist for the San Diego Unified School District, met with Filner when he was a congressman. He accosted her in a booth at the restaurant where they were meeting. He tried to kiss her against her will four times. Laura Fink, a political consultant, said that at a campaign event Filner humiliated her when in front of others he patted her buttocks and commented that she had “worked her butt off.”
The mayor would like us all to believe that he didn’t know any better. He even said that he “needs help.” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told reporters at a press conference, that his actions are “disrespectful of women” and that what’s even more stunning is that he is “clueless.”
In other words, Mayor Filner, resign and get some therapy while you prepare for trial. We women who have suffered under bosses like you for long enough would like to see some justice.