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Some women encouraged to wear a “fake wedding ring” to fend off House creeps

Monday, Aug 26, 2019

* Finke

So, working in the Madigan operation was not necessarily a pleasant experience. Being a female working in that environment was even worse.

Here’s what the report had to say about that.

“Several female workers said that, when they started, they were warned about particular people in the Capitol workplace to avoid, either because of their inappropriate comments, crude humor, or ‘creepy’ behavior. Some female workers said that, when they started working in the Speaker’s Office, they were warned by female coworkers to take steps to avoid sexual harassment, such as not drinking alcohol with representatives, not looking ‘too available,’ and wearing a fake wedding ring. Some female workers said that they also warn new female workers about some people to avoid or give general advice to avoid being put in uncomfortable positions, including not going to after-work events.”

So the unofficial employee handbook for this operation includes wearing a fake wedding ring to hopefully fend off the creeps, which apparently included some of the elected officials? Sheesh.

Discuss.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

29 Comments
  1. - Former Downstater - Monday, Aug 26, 19 @ 2:04 pm:

    I was speaking to a female friend of mine last week about the harassment report. She easily named 8-10 male legislators who had either hit on her, or made her uncomfortable enough that she wouldn’t go to their offices alone. It was scary how quickly she could rattle of a list.


  2. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Monday, Aug 26, 19 @ 2:08 pm:

    Fake wedding ring? That is standard operating procedure for being female everywhere.


  3. - Juvenal - Monday, Aug 26, 19 @ 2:10 pm:

    This is one of the areas of the report where I think more details would be helpful.

    Were the people staff working for the Speaker, legislators, or lobbyists? If legislators, were they Democratic or Republican? If lobbyists, were those lobbyists former Democratic staffers?

    Reporting and preventing and punishing harassment depends a lot on details like these.


  4. - Rasselas - Monday, Aug 26, 19 @ 2:19 pm:

    I realize that the hook for this story is “Madigan”, but I think women who worked for the other caucuses, for state agencies and as lobbyists all have had bad encounters in Springfield with men who are legislators, co-workers, other state employees and other lobbyists.

    If you’re the only one who commissions an investigation and then the press treats it like you’re the only one with a problem, nobody else will ever have the guts to commission their own independent review, and that’s not good.


  5. - Sean - Monday, Aug 26, 19 @ 2:34 pm:

    Sounds like something reporters should actively be investigating. Constituents have a right to know if their representatives or their staff are breaking sexual harassment laws on tax payrolls.


  6. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Monday, Aug 26, 19 @ 2:37 pm:

    Looks like some of the people in the legislature are just as bad as people working for the legislature. The history of the world is littered with men abusing their power, but this is pretty pathetic. Representatives and Senators are barely famous and have pretty limited power. It’s amazing people can become so drunk on such small amounts of power.


  7. - Wonk - Monday, Aug 26, 19 @ 2:43 pm:

    Sadly, Da Big Bad Wolf is right about the rings.

    In the Capitol, precautionary behavior also includes checking who is in the elevator before you get on. Rasselas is right that the people you check for and that women warn each other about come from more than just this one office.


  8. - SpfdNewb - Monday, Aug 26, 19 @ 2:43 pm:

    -It’s amazing people can become so drunk on such small amounts of power-

    You haven’t been in academia I see.


  9. - Union thug - Monday, Aug 26, 19 @ 2:50 pm:

    I wonder if names will come out or just bury them. Will they actually do something about it?

    They do have state workers taking an annual class on sexual harassment along with the ethics.

    Funny how the fix for elected officials messing up is to have the workers take training…. Me thinks it maybe just feel good stuff


  10. - High Socks - Monday, Aug 26, 19 @ 3:08 pm:

    -they were warned about particular people in the Capitol workplace to avoid-

    I was there and this is true. There was a running list of people to avoid that included Democrats, Republicans, lobbyists and at least one prominent journalist.


  11. - Cheryl44 - Monday, Aug 26, 19 @ 3:09 pm:

    Fake wedding rings are*not* SOP. If it is in your workplace or circle of friends you need to speak up or get out.

    PS I work in academia.


  12. - Anon E Moose - Monday, Aug 26, 19 @ 3:18 pm:

    UGH


  13. - Kayak - Monday, Aug 26, 19 @ 3:21 pm:

    Without the names of those people to avoid, the report is quite incomplete. If “several female workers” or any workers for that matter wish to be helpful, they should push for these names to be published. #MeToo is much more effective with specifics.


  14. - SSL - Monday, Aug 26, 19 @ 3:33 pm:

    There have to be some people who aren’t sleeping well these days. Good.


  15. - Morningstar - Monday, Aug 26, 19 @ 3:34 pm:

    I agree with Cheryl44 that fake wedding rings are not SOP. That kind of characterization is itself sexist and carries a sort of “everybody does it” tone. Nowhere in my standard operating manual does this compute as an equitable workplace.


  16. - Newcomer - Monday, Aug 26, 19 @ 3:47 pm:

    It is also unsettling how many individuals are oblivious to the fact that they have gained this reputation themselves.


  17. - Amalia - Monday, Aug 26, 19 @ 3:52 pm:

    well all of that defensive need behavior predates Madigan. and it’s very familiar.


  18. - A guy - Monday, Aug 26, 19 @ 3:57 pm:

    Not sure that a wedding ring is a universal stop sign to a creep. In fact, history would suggest otherwise.


  19. - Suburban Mom - Monday, Aug 26, 19 @ 4:06 pm:

    As a woman in a male-dominated profession and frequently in male-dominated spaces, I absolutely wore a fake wedding ring before I was married, and it dramatically changes the tenor of most creepers’ interactions with you. Since you’re some other man’s “property,” they stick to leering and suggestive comments, instead of active sexual assault.


  20. - Get a Job - Monday, Aug 26, 19 @ 4:25 pm:

    Off topic, but I wonder, does Rich get royalties for Finke’s use of the word “Sheesh”?

    To the post, this is so sad. Women deal with this harassment on a daily basis in many professional settings but there’s no excuse for this to occur anywhere, let alone in a distinguished organization such as the State general Assembly.


  21. - anon2 - Monday, Aug 26, 19 @ 4:52 pm:

    Both caucuses have had creeps, and other members knew who they were. This is a bipartisan problem.


  22. - Suburban Mom - Monday, Aug 26, 19 @ 5:22 pm:

    Every workplace I’ve experienced has its share of men behaving badly - ranging from the clueless to the creepy. The Capitol is no exception. In my opinion, the biggest challenge for women in the Capitol - and most workplaces - is the uneven balance of power between men and women. The objectification and sexualization of women above their professional contributions are symptomatic of that. Of course, that’s not as interesting to talk about, as the media (and many of the commenters above) continue to fixate on the salacious details rather than acknowledge and address the big picture and foundation of it all - lack of equality and power in the workplace.


  23. - Mary Sunshine - Monday, Aug 26, 19 @ 5:26 pm:

    Sorry @suburban mom, didn’t mean to post as you…tried to post @ you.

    -Mary Sunshine


  24. - Mary Sunshine - Monday, Aug 26, 19 @ 5:26 pm:

    Every workplace I’ve experienced has its share of men behaving badly - ranging from the clueless to the creepy. The Capitol is no exception. In my opinion, the biggest challenge for women in the Capitol - and most workplaces - is the uneven balance of power between men and women. The objectification and sexualization of women above their professional contributions are symptomatic of that. Of course, that’s not as interesting to talk about, as the media (and many of the commenters above) continue to fixate on the salacious details rather than acknowledge and address the big picture and foundation of it all - lack of equality and power in the workplace.


  25. - Mouthy - Monday, Aug 26, 19 @ 6:44 pm:

    Decades ago there’d be the occasional creep going over the line but it was never very serious and everybody knew who the creep was. Except the creep of course. I’m just amazed by the first comment. 8 to 10 reps alone. Wow and in this day and age.


  26. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Monday, Aug 26, 19 @ 6:57 pm:

    ==Nowhere in my standard operating manual does this compute as an equitable workplace.==
    I never meant to imply that because women did this all was hunky dorey. But sometimes its just so exhausting to deal with rejecting male coworkers every day, when all you want to do is your work.


  27. - Candy Dogood - Monday, Aug 26, 19 @ 10:28 pm:

    ===which apparently included some of the elected officials?===

    For many of your readers this isn’t a surprise.


  28. - Morningstar - Tuesday, Aug 27, 19 @ 8:49 am:

    @Da Big Bad Wolf - Agreed. Such an environment is exhausting, intolerable, and wastes human potential.


  29. - Arock - Tuesday, Aug 27, 19 @ 8:59 am:

    Once again deflection by some to take the heat off Madigan. But we are talking about Madigan’s operation with this investigation so sorry the buck stops at Michael Madigan. He doesn’t get a pass just because everyone else was having the same problem he is suppose to be the big bad leader. It appears he turned a blind eye to sexual harassment in his own organization until it became public knowledge. Once again the man is ethically challenged and needs to go.


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