- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 19, 2017

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson suggested during an interview Wednesday that women have a “responsibility” to help prevent themselves from being sexually assaulted by not by dressing or behaving provocatively.

The Texas Democrat made the comment while speaking to a local NBC affiliate about Hollywood mogul and Democratic donor Harvey Weinstein, who has been accused by more than 40 women of sexual harassment, assault and rape.

“I grew up in a time when it was as much the woman’s responsibility as the man’s — how you were dressed, what your behavior was,” Ms. Johnson, 81, said. “I’m from the old school that you can have behaviors that appear to be inviting. It can be interpreted as such. That’s the responsibility, I think, of the female.

“I think we also need to start talking about the power that women have to control the situation,” she said. “There’s law enforcement, you can refuse to cooperate with that kind of behavior. I think that many times, men get away with this because they are allowed to get away with it by the women.

“When you have an expectation that that might happen and that’s how you got to do it to make it, that’s a mental thing that has to change with the woman,” the congresswoman added.

Ms. Johnson said she was angry with Mr. Weinstein for his alleged behavior and disappointed that his accusers didn’t come forward sooner, NBC reported.

The congresswoman issued a statement Thursday afternoon clarifying her comments, saying she believes “deeply” that sexual assault and harassment have “no place in our society.”

“I do not blame the victims of sexual assault for the actions of their assailants,” Ms. Johnson said. “I do acknowledge that my comments regarding behavior and attire come from an old school perspective that has shaped how some of us understand the issue, but that does not detract from the fact that criminals need to be held accountable for their actions.

“I will never condone those who feel they can abuse the power of their positions to sexually assault and harass women, and I will always encourage victims to come forward so that we can hold these criminals accountable,” she continued. “Thanks to the testimony of brave women like Anita Hill, students on college campuses, and most recently the victims of Harvey Weinstein’s attacks, we are able to have a public dialogue about the systemic issues that we face as a society. Ultimately, we need to unequivocally support the victims of sexual assault and harassment as best we can while working to hold the perpetrators accountable for their actions. And supporting all women in this fight will continue to be my life’s work.”


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