10/24/2017 - SALEM - On Monday, the Oregonian and OPB Think Out Loud reported on allegations of the groping of state Senator, Sara Gelser, by her colleague, Senator Jeff Kruse, that allegedly happened in front of witnesses.
The allegations of Kruse's conduct are disturbing, and if true, worthy of censure at a minimum, but the ugly episode was compounded over the weekend by body-shaming comments made by Kevin Starrett of the Oregon Firearms Federation, which published the following under the organization's byline on their official facebook page.
"Kruse denied having inappropriately touched Gelser and said that, to the best of his knowledge, the sanctions he is facing and Gelser's accusations of inappropriate touching are 'not connected.'
It is true that Kruse smokes in his office. But the allegations about him touching Sara Gelser would only mean he needs an eye test."
The post is currently up on the group's facebook page. (https://www.facebook.com/oregonfirearms/).
"This pattern of objectification is common, especially in politics where, historically, the sexual objectification of women candidates has led to an underwhelming number of women in leadership positions," said Dr. Tanya Tompkins, a Linfield College professor and political Independent, who has conducted several studies on objectification while teaching at the college.
"A male colleague feels entitled to inappropriately touch a married female colleague because she is seen as a sexual object, rather than a fully human being who is competent and worthy of respect. When the woman speaks up, she is again reduced to a body, this time body shamed as a way of minimizing the significance of the encounter because no, in fact, she is not an object that is worthy of a man's desire. These patterns can persist in the workplace or other environments because women are concerned for their jobs, do not want to be perceived in a negative light, or as this case illustrates, be subject to public body shaming for speaking out. The end consequence of objectifying actions, commentary and sexual harassment is a work environment that is hostile and exclusionary to women."
Dr Tompkins is a professor of psychology at Linfield college. She is an educator and public health advocate. Her most recent research article on objectification, "Force of beauty or beauty enforced? The influence of video makeup advertisements on self-objectification among college women" is currently in review.