Women say misogyny rampant in NJ politics. Men, not so much.
A survey that asked people about sexual misconduct in New Jersey politics found harassment and misogyny are widespread.
A brief summary of the survey results was described in an online hearing held last week by the Workgroup on Harassment, Sexual Assault and Misogyny in New Jersey Politics. A complete report on the survey results is expected next month, with the workgroup’s final report after that, perhaps in July.
Marissa Marzano, a spokeswoman for the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault, said the survey received more than 500 responses.
“Overall, 39% of respondents identify that they believe misogyny is extremely prevalent in New Jersey politics and 36% said that sexual harassment is very prevalent,” Marzano said.
“Forty-six percent of female respondents identified that misogyny is extremely prevalent, compared to 13% of males, and 30% of female respondents reported that sexual harassment is extremely prevalent, compared to 11% of males,” she said. “And I share this not at all with the intent to blame or shame male respondents, but rather to highlight the really wide gully in the way that one’s identity shapes and influences their experiences and their perception of the world around them.”
An elected official was most commonly cited as the type of person responsible for engaging in harassing behaviors, at 22%, Marzano said.
“The most frequently reported behavior was verbal remarks of a sexual nature, including jokes directed at them or in their presence, which 23% reported experiencing,” Marzano said. “Twenty-two percent reported experiencing sexist or misogynistic comments, and 15% of respondents reported unwanted touching. Three percent of respondents reported that they were sexually assaulted or raped.”
Two women testified about their experiences – a former congressional candidate, Tiffany Kaszuba, who described being “stalked, harassed, surveilled, bullied and publicly berated and humiliated” in 2019, and one whose written testimony was read into the record and included being forced to perform oral sex.
A second, private hearing was held last week at which people could testify anonymously and without the press invited to observe. A few more meetings are planned.
“I would say that interest certainly has not waned or the desire to share stories has not waned, and I’m glad that we were able to have this meeting,” said Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, D-Bergen, who organized the workgroup.
More from New Jersey 101.5:
Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.