Recent allegations about former President George H.W. Bush groping women and making jokes about it have re-ignited the #Me Too initiative.
Women say he grabbed them from his wheelchair, while joking that his favorite magician is “David Cop-A-Feel.”
“There is no such thing has good-natured teasing when you are assaulting my body,” said Lori Jones, executive director of the Wheeling YWCA. “I don’t care how old you are!”
The former president, at age 93, is “getting a pass” by many people.
But not by those whose professions deal with sexual harassment.
“So my general stance all of the time is that sexual harassment is never acceptable,” said Megan Palmer, executive director of the Sexual Assault Help Center. “We’ve heard a lot of commentary that ‘oh he’s just an old man, he doesn’t mean anything by it, it’s all in good fun.’ “
“I always hear the excuse that he grew up in a different time, and times were different then,” noted Ron Scott, cultural diversity director at the Wheeling YWCA. “At that time, the definition of what sexual assault was, was totally different than it is today.”
People say it was acceptable in the past, but it is not acceptable now.
“It’s not now,” asserted Lori Jones. “And it wasn’t then. We just didn’t talk about it.”
“And the fact that he felt that it was something that is funny or something to make light of–that he was groping this woman and making inappropriate jokes of a sexual nature to her –and the fact that he felt it was OK to do so, is a product of our culture, the rape culture that we live in,” said Megan Palmer.
Ron Scott urges women to be aware of any comments or actions that make them uncomfortable, and then to be clear and vocal about it.
“Times will change but they will only change if they begin to tell their stories,” Scott said, “If they begin to talk about how they were made to feel uncomfortable, by who, and why.”
And finally, there’s Barbara Bush, beloved former first lady, who reportedly rolls her eyes at his behavior.
“Shame on her. Shame on her,” asserted Lori Jones. “She rolled her eyes. I heard she said ‘He’s going to get arrested one day.’ She knows what’s happening. Shame on her.”