By Greg Jackson
For years I have heard about the disgusting treatment of women in politics and wondered why folks stood by silently without uttering a single peep. I heard about the inappropriate comments, the inappropriate touching, the inappropriate propositions by legislators and wondered why the hushed whispers through the hallowed halls of the capital never materialized to resounding demands to treat the victims with the respect and professional courtesy they deserved.
While running for state office, I often times had the unique opportunity to be a fly-on-the-wall, so to speak, during conversations between legislative staffers and lobbyist, and to be quite frank it was as if I were listening to the recounts of a bad soap opera or an episode of the Jerry Springer Show. During those candid conversations, the thing that stood out to me most was that it was apparent that people knew about the improper behavior, but, no one said anything because the culture of inappropriate conduct is and was not only known, but widely accepted, and in some instances expected. I heard comments that nothing was said because it would not change the behavior. Some viewed it as an occupational hazard that was part and parcel of the job. However, most surprising to me was that many viewed the unsolicited, sexual advances as a sort of badge of honor, to be recognized and wanted by a person in a powerful position.
Power, sex, and corruption, whether viewed separately or together are not new, and they transcend all settings from churches to legislative chambers to law firms to physicians offices to film locations, military installations and the list could go on. We have become all too familiar with cases and stories where pastors, politicians, business leaders, educators, military generals, Hollywood elite, even presidents are embroiled in scandals all because they could not respect a woman’s right to exist free from unwanted sexual advances. But no matter the commonality or acceptance of such behavior there is no denying that it is wrong. To levy a position of power to take advantage of another human being sexually and without their consent is quite simply the epitome of bad. Not only is it bad, but it should not have a time limit, since it has been shown that once a person gets a taste of power and how to abuse that power, not only do they, and others, get comfortable with their bad behavior, but their antics more times than not continue, escalate and worsen. It brings true meaning to the words “absolute power corrupts, power corrupts absolutely.”
As a husband, father, and son, once I was trusted to lead and guide others, my position when working with the opposite sex has always been to treat women as I would want my wife, daughter, and mother to be treated. By following this simple, self-imposed rule, I have found it easy to conduct myself in a manner that would and will show respect. But, I do not want to make this about me. I want to take this time to applaud the brave women who have come forward to shed light on the disgraceful treatment of women no matter the setting. While I concede that some of the stories may be false or fabricated, it cannot be denied that even those tales have given others the courage to step forward. From a simple #MeToo post prompted by an actress, we are in the midst of a movement where politicians are now coming under fire. As women come forward in a proclamation to be silent no more, where powerful men are reduced to tears for their impropriety or asked to leave their posts, I cannot help but wonder how far this will go. But no matter if it lasts another day or twenty years I am very pleased that we live in a time when women can come forward and stand silent no more in the face of disrespect — in my humble opinion.
Greg Jackson is a former Assistant Attorney General for the State of Florida, a military veteran, current Orange County District 2 Representative on the Board of Zoning Adjustments, and General Counsel for the Community Redevelopment Agency. He has been as an active member of the Central Florida community for nearly 20 years. He was most recently a candidate for the Florida House District 45 seat.