NBC’s “Meet The Press” reached out to all 21 female senators, asking about their experiences with sexual harassment. Four senators — Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) agreed to come forward.
Warren discussed an encounter with a former colleague during her time as a law professor. When she visited his office, he slammed the door and “lunged for me,” said Warren. “It’s like a bad cartoon. He’s chasing me around the desk trying to get his hands on me.”
Warren said she begged him, “You don’t want to do this. I have little children at home. Please don’t do this.”
Although she managed to escape his attack, Warren wondered what she had done “to bring this on.”
As a young lawmaker in the Missouri state legislature, McCaskill once queried a senior member about how to get a piece of legislation out of committee. He asked if she had “brought her kneepads,” implying she’d have to provide oral sex.
“I do think he was joking, but it was shocking that he would make that joke to a colleague,” said McCaskill.
Heitcamp said a male law enforcement officer once tried to intimidate her when she was North Dakota’s attorney general. After she spoke at an event on domestic violence, the officer “pretty much put his finger in my face, and he said, ‘Listen here, men will always beat their wives and you can’t stop them.’”
Hirono said she had been “propositioned” by teachers, colleagues and others. She noted that “unwanted attention” occurred when there was “uneven power, and it’s usually the woman who has less power.”
Harassment is “not appreciated, it’s not cute, it’s not fun,” Hirono added.