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#MeToo doesn’t just apply to Hollywood, it applies to Washington, too

(Photo via Twitter)

In the past few days, you may have seen the hashtag #MeToo in your social media feeds. Prompted by Harvey Weinstein’s sexual misconduct being brought to the light, the social media campaign aimed to highlight the magnitude of the problems of sexual assault and harassment.

Sadly, in my short 23 years of life, I have experienced sexual assault and more than one instance of sexual harassment. I’m glad that we are finally talking about sexual harassment and assault in Hollywood and how we can mitigate and put an end to it, but we need to address it in all industries. Today, I want to address it in my own industry: politics.

Since the start of the #MeToo campaign, I have seen a great many individuals come forward bravely to join the countless others in showcasing how prevalent sexual misconduct is. However, I have also seen countless others across Facebook and Twitter, politicizing this social campaign for their own bravado. However, it’s time to look in the mirror.

Not only have I witnessed men trying to take advantage of women in politics, by suggesting they can help “make connections,” or land the right positions – I have experienced this myself. After all, everyone who works or has worked in the political field knows the mantra, “Politics is about who you know.”

Sadly, some of these predators DO have power. I’ve been scared to speak up out of fear of repercussions. I’ve seen a woman’s career ruined because she refused someone’s attention. I’ve been put in an uncomfortable position by an elected official before, where all I knew to do was laugh it off and run away.

So yes, Harvey Weinstein is a pig, but we have a few swine in our own midst, basking in the swamp. And some of them are writing laws and policy, running for office, running non-profits, working on Capitol Hill, and working off of it.

To the women and men in politics who may have faced such unwanted attention, do not let these predators (men or women) scare you away from creating real change. I’ve been silent before, both about my own harassment and others, because I was just an intern who couldn’t find her voice, but that is no more.

You know what time and experience taught me? Most of the power these people wield is a facade. The power they have is the power we give them over our lives.

Sexual misconduct does not just take place in conservative or libertarian circles; it is prevalent across the political spectrum. We must support each other regardless of political affiliation. We must be willing to listen to those brave enough to speak. We must be willing to challenge those who think their positions make their actions excusable.

To the critics who might suggest that I am playing a victim to “gain attention,” I would respond that I am doing the complete opposite. This is me telling the world that I am no longer a victim, but a survivor, and a warrior.

We must be willing to have painful discussions and be brave enough to hold people accountable, especially those with power. We must raise better men and women. We must learn to protect ourselves from the scum of society. And for me, protection comes in the form of being a concealed weapon permit holder. I encourage all men and women who want to take their safety into their own hands to get one as well.

The #MeToo campaign has shown a great many things about the industry I work in but I know we can strive for positive change. After all, that is the reason I and many others chose a career in politics: to better society.

I will no longer be silent and passive on this issue and I hope other men and women will join #MeToo.

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