The process she is describing involves, among other things, undergoing 30 days of counseling before filing a formal sexual harassment case against a congressional staffer or member of Congress. After a month has passed, the complainant then goes into “mediation” with someone who represents the office of the person they are accusing, for up to another 30 days. Finally, after mediation, if by some miracle you have not been successfully bribed or otherwise browbeaten into remaining silent — or just quit your job in frustration in the meantime — you have the privilege of waiting yet another 30 days before you are allowed to have a hearing either with Office of Compliance or, if you’ve been very patient, in federal district court. No wonder, as Lett explained, some 85 percent of cases never go to litigation.
We need to stop pretending that the circumstances described in a recent CNN report, in which the halls of Congress are a flesh market in which it is unremarkable for legislators to flirt with and grope members of their staff and even one another, in which a list is circulated samizdat-style of “creeps” who have to be avoided, can be dealt with using posters and bureaucratic legalese. We also need to stop fetishizing the idea of people in power as glamorous hedonistic perverts à la House of Cards, a show that, astonishingly, utilized the talents of a real-life hedonistic pervert to realize its only slightly exaggerated vision of D.C.