I am writing this letter following the public hearing on L.D. 1842, An Act To Require Education and Training Regarding Harassment For Legislators, Legislative Staff and Lobbyists.

Lobbyists who testified Wednesday about their experiences of sexual harassment at the State House gather for a group photograph outside a committee room. Associated Press/Marina Villeneuve

The support for the bill was overwhelming, with many people stepping forward at the hearing Wednesday to share examples of what they have experienced at the Legislature.

However, several legislators at the hearing displayed a sad lack of insight into their own behavior, including one person who expressed confusion related to a sexual harassment training that had taken place during the month prior to the hearing. He said that he felt some of the examples used during the sexual harassment training were simply examples of compliments that he would give to women.

If you are ever at a sexual harassment training and you hear an example and think, “Oh, that’s just how I compliment women,” you are the problem. Why do you feel the need to comment on someone’s appearance at all? There is absolutely no reason for you to comment on, touch or talk about someone’s body, especially when you are working.

Age and the way you were raised are not excuses to engage in sexual harassment. Just because you got away with disgusting behaviors 20 years ago doesn’t make it right for you to continue to engage in those same behaviors now.

I honestly do not know what I found more outrageous: the blatant sexism displayed by the legislator who fondly recalled the days when people were more modest (of course, he’s not victim blaming, you understand), or the legislator who expressed shock at the many disturbing examples of sexual harassment, because, of course, he doesn’t tolerate such things.

The idea that anyone has never, at the very least, witnessed some form of sexual harassment is truly unbelievable. The statements made by legislators at the hearing show just how necessary sexual harassment training is.

Carrie McCarter

Westbrook