Tim Kaine wants “America to be better” when it comes to sexual harassment and assault.
The democratic senator from Virginia published a guest post in Esquire on Nov. 2 in response to the rampant sexism he says he’s witnessed in the past year. From watching the misogynistic way people spoke about Hillary Clinton during his time as her running mate in 2016 to the recent allegations of sexual harassment, assault and rape against Harvey Weinstein ― Kaine thinks men need to do more to fight sexism.
“Men need to step up and accept our central role in combating the sexism and harassment that stand in the way of true women’s equality,” Kaine wrote.
He added that he witnessed firsthand the misogynistic merchandise sold at Donald Trump rallies and the onslaught of sexist remarks Clinton received during the 2016 presidential election.
“In 2016, I was proud to be Hillary Clinton’s running mate. After a lifetime of strong women being key to my success in work and politics, I hoped my own service might normalize the role of strong men supporting strong women leaders,” Kaine wrote. “But the attitudes toward Hillary that we saw on the trail ―- the ‘lock her up’ chants, the ‘Killary’ and ‘Shrillary’ memes, the proliferation of bogus conspiracy theories and vulgar attacks ― showed how far away American men are from respecting women and accepting our own role in combating sexism.”
Kaine wrote that he’s committing himself to do more every day to combat sexism, including calling out sexual harassment and pledging to speak out against “locker room talk” (the phrase Trump used to brush off his comments about grabbing women “by the pussy.”)
“I will forcefully condemn sexual assault and harassment, wherever it occurs. I will not turn a blind eye to sexism and will call it out as unacceptable whenever I see it,” Kaine wrote. “I pledge to hold the men around me accountable and not dismiss lurid descriptions or grotesque conduct as ‘locker room talk’ or ‘boys being boys.’ It’s not enough for us to write that we condemn these despicable behaviors. We should use the advantages, opportunities, and, all too often, passes that are given to us by virtue of being men to fight back and speak out against sexism and abuse.”
Men in positions of power need to advocate for women in all environments, Kaine added.
“We need to listen to women, hire women, promote women, and work for women (who, by the way, will make us better at our own jobs),” he wrote. “We must permanently end the culture where a woman who speaks out faces doubt or retribution and where a woman who seeks power is defamed. I pledge my vocal support to women everywhere who fear ― and indeed, know ― that coming forward or speaking out will have negative consequences.”
Head over to Esquire to read Kaine’s full essay.