Whether it’s chalked up to Schadenfreude or hypocrisy doesn’t really matter. Once the camel* sticks his nose under the tent, he’s gonna see whatever happens within. And that means any #MeToo groper could end up exposed. For California Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, this is particularly ugly given her stance against men.
In December, when Time magazine announced that “Silence Breakers” who spoke out against sexual harassment were its Persons of the Year, Garcia’s face was prominently included in the art accompanying the cover story.
Garcia was out front in the fight for California’s Legislative Whistleblower Protection Act, and wasn’t the least bit shy about letting everyone know that “she persists.” Maybe too much.
Garcia was one of hundreds of Sacramento women who signed a letter with the hashtag #WeSaidEnough protesting harassment, and told the New York Times that she had been the repeated victim of sexual harassment by men in the Capitol in the course of her legislative work.
And ending this sexual harassment became her cause.
Signed, sealed and delivered to @JerryBrownGov. Proud to have worked with @asmMelendez as she persisted on this essential legislation that was long overdue. Persistence has prevailed! #WeSaidEnough #TimesUp #Ab403 pic.twitter.com/ot9AMeNtzg
— Cristina Garcia (@AsmGarcia) February 5, 2018
As it turned out, Garcia might not be quite as pure as the driven snow herself.
But Daniel Fierro of Cerritos told POLITICO that in 2014, as a 25-year-old staffer to Assemblyman Ian Calderon, he was groped by Garcia, a powerful Democratic lawmaker who chairs the Legislative Women’s Caucus and the Natural Resources Committee.
He said she cornered him alone after the annual Assembly softball game in Sacramento as he attempted to clean up the dugout. Fierro, who said Garcia appeared inebriated, said she began stroking his back, then squeezed his buttocks and attempted to touch his crotch before he extricated himself and quickly left.
And Fierro wasn’t the only man to claim he was touched by Garcia.
A prominent Sacramento lobbyist says she also accosted him in May 2017, when she cornered him, made a graphic sexual proposal, and tried to grab his crotch at a political fundraiser. He spoke to POLITICO on the condition of anonymity out of fear of reprisals.
The lobbyist, who represents a major industry association, said that Garcia appeared to have been drinking heavily at a fundraiser hosted by Governor Jerry Brown for state Senator Josh Newman at the de Veres bar in Sacramento. He said he was heading out the door in part to avoid the assemblywoman — who had been increasingly “flirtatious” and had called him on a few occasions before for late night drinks which he repeatedly declined.
If this was merely an opportunity to cry hypocrite, it would be petty to make too much of it. So one woman pol in California may be up to her eyeballs in the same misconduct she accuses of others? It may reflect poorly on her, but doesn’t alter the nature of the problem. But then, that’s not what makes this worthy of note.
When it comes to sex, people get stupid. Not rape stupid, but along the spectrum of lesser “offenses,” from gropes to pushing for sex stupid. Bad jokes, stupid. Misreading signals stupid. If one heeds the narrative, this is only about men, who “think” with the wrong part of their toxic anatomy.
Ain’t necessarily so. Women too. Women grope. Women coerce. Women even beat men, though the social construct of fists hitting a face seems entirely different when they have nail polish on the fingernails.
And then there’s the introduction of booze into the mix. If humans are stupid on their own, an altered state of consciousness doesn’t make their choices any smarter. Yet alcohol is legal, ubiquitous and, most of the time, fun. Women get to imbibe just as men do, even though they’ve tried desperately to build a wall around female drunkeness, behind which women get a free pass for being shitfaced while men are condemned as rapist monsters.
The point is that poor choices are made by people, not by genders. Women can touch people sexually who don’t want to be touched, just as can men. And with liquor added to the mix, the possibility of a breakdown in inhibitions grows exponentially.
The problem isn’t that Garcia is a terrible person if it’s true that she groped, and groped again. It doesn’t make her a good person, and in light of her pandering persistance, it clearly makes her a target for her #TimesUp attacks. But the hyperbole that comes with the knee-jerk outrage of politicians like Garcia was a fun exaggeration when it only applied to the targets of her gender narrative.
Now that it’s boomeranging against her, the lesson to be learned is that everyone does stupid things, women included, and that every stupid thing they do isn’t the end of the world.
Garcia will have to face up to her hypocrisy if these allegations are proven true, which is an offense that should be taken far more seriously than her drunken grope. The guys she groped didn’t ball up in the corner and cry from the PTSD of her touch. It was wrong. It wasn’t “horrifying.” It wasn’t the worst thing that ever happened. And it isn’t just men who do it. Will Garcia still persist?