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Allegations Of Sexual Harassment Against Movie Mogul Spark Global Conversation


The allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault against Harvey Weinstein have sparked a national conversation that is way bigger than Hollywood. And it's a tough conversation and explicit sometimes. So take note, this segment delves into that kind of sensitive material. But all you have had to do in the past few days is log on to your social media feeds, and odds are you'd see women sharing their stories or just simply posting the words, me too. In California, more than 140 women involved in the state's politics - we're talking about legislators, staff political consultants, lobbyists - they all signed this letter calling out what they describe as a culture of sexual harassment. Rebecca Luby was the controller for the California Republican Party, and I asked her why she felt compelled to sign this letter.

REBECCA LUBY: It seemed to me to be obvious. I personally have never been assaulted, say, but the harassment is constant. When I first moved to California and I got a job, I was probably 25 years old. And I had a legislator who would text me after 10 p.m. regularly asking to come and hang out at his apartment. Now I never went, so I don't know for sure what he meant by that, but that seemed inappropriate to me. I've had lobbyists follow me into the bathrooms. I've had people text me and say they're outside my hotel room when I go to events, and what am I doing?

MARTIN: Were these colleagues of yours or these people you just know professionally?

LUBY: These are people that I know professionally. And when you live and work in Sacramento, so much of the political industry is social. After work, you spend a lot of time going to fundraising receptions and meet-and-greets and just spending time socially together because it's a relationship-based industry.

MARTIN: She told me about one instance that happened several years ago.

LUBY: He's a consultant - political consultant. I don't really deal with him very much. And we were at an event at a convention, and he asked if I would come to his condo so that he could masturbate in front of me, which I was shocked and, of course, assumed he was joking.

MARTIN: He said those words?

LUBY: Yes. So I just sort of laughed it off and moved on. But what I think is the most alarming about that is - similar to what I read about with Harvey Weinstein - is if I saw this man today, I don't even think he knows who I am, which to me says that that was not an isolated incident.

MARTIN: Did you feel like you had any recourse?

LUBY: I don't think that I didn't think I had recourse. I just - I just thought it was part of life. I think that part of the problem is when the lines are blurred between, you know, social behavior time and work and all of this that, where do you know when is the time to report something? If they were, like wounds - you know, if you were attacked, that's like a stab wound, and you definitely want to report that. But all of these things have mostly been, like, paper cuts. So at what point do you say, oh, OK, now I've been cut too many times?

MARTIN: Yeah. So with this letter, what do you want to come from it? What can come from it?

LUBY: I don't really know. This happens in front of people all the time that are now acting shocked about this. And so I think it's just that they have blinders on. The only thing I can really hope that comes from this is that normal, nice people that aren't doing these things are aware of it and know that, no, that wasn't funny. That wasn't a joke. You should have said something.

MARTIN: Rebecca Luby is one of 140 women who've worked in California's legislature and signed a letter condemning sexually harassing behavior there. Rebecca, thanks so much for talking with us about this.

LUBY: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.