Female lawmakers in California wore black to the Senate and Assembly floor sessions on Monday, extending a protest from Sunday night’s Golden Globes ceremony that aimed to broaden the conversation about workplace sexual harassment.
Cristina Garcia, a Bell Gardens Democrat who chairs the Legislative Women’s Caucus, said the wardrobe choice was a way to show solidarity with their “sisters” in low-paying professions, such as farmworkers and maids, who are vulnerable to harassment and assault but have little recourse.
“I haven’t done enough to use my spotlight for those workers,” Garcia said. “These women, when they speak up, they risk losing their jobs.”
The Capitol has been roiled by debate over its sexual misconduct policies since October, when a group of nearly 150 women published an open letter denouncing a “pervasive” culture of harassment and abuse in California politics.
While pushing for changes to the reporting, investigation and discipline process at the Capitol, Garcia said female lawmakers have also been following related movements in other industries. At the Golden Globes, actresses walked the red carpet in black to promote Time’s Up, a new legal defense fund for individuals who have experienced workplace sexual harassment.
Inspired by a tweet from activist Blair Imani, Assemblywoman Wendy Carrillo, D-Los Angeles, rallied her colleagues to continue the #WhyWeWearBlack campaign at work the next day, Garcia said. Lawmakers have also introduced a handful of sexual misconduct-related bills this session, including proposals to prohibit confidentiality clauses in settlement agreements and provide “panic buttons” for hotel workers.