- A Michigan state senator begrudgingly issued an apology on Wednesday after telling a female reporter that a group of high school boys visiting the capitol would “have a lot of fun with her.”
- In a Wednesday column, Michigan Advance reporter Allison Donahue recounted how Republican State Sen. Peter Lucido made the crude remark when she tried to ask him a question.
- When Donahue told Lucido she thought his comment was “unprofessional,” he did not apologise, saying he was not making a sexual insinuation but instead a reference to social mixers.
- But Donahue wrote that even if Lucido “never intended to cause harm with his comments,” it “doesn’t excuse how we normalize this behaviour from men in power.”
- In a statement to the Detroit Free Press, after initially stating Lucido said “I apologise for the misunderstanding yesterday and for offending Allison Donahue.”
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A Michigan state senator apologised on Wednesday for telling a female reporter for the Michigan Advance that a group of high school boys visiting the capitol would “have a lot of fun with her,” which she denounced as “sexist.”
In a Wednesday column for the outlet, Michigan Advance reporter Allison Donahue recounted how Republican State Sen. Peter Lucido made the crude, sexualized remark when she attempted to ask him a question outside a hearing at the state capitol in Lansing.
Donahue said she approached Lucido to ask him about a recent story in the Detroit Metro Times reporting that he was a member of a now-defunct Facebook group partly dedicated to posting incendiary and vitriolic content about Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
She wrote that when she went up to him, Lucido was with a group of students from De La Salle Academy, a Catholic all-boys school, and he asked her if she had heard of the school.
When Donahue replied that she hadn’t, she said Lucido told her, “You should hang around! You could have a lot of fun with these boys, or they could have a lot of fun with you.”
Donahue wrote that the group of boys “burst into an Old Boys’ Network-type of laughter” and she “walked away knowing that I had been the punchline of their ‘locker room’ talk.”
She described her decision to confront Lucido about his comments, writing that she’d “been the subject of locker room talk before” in her life and there had been “too many moments, big and small, that I wish I would have told someone or spoken up about.”
When Donahue told Lucido she thought his comment was “unprofessional,” he did not apologise, saying he was not making a sexual insinuation but instead a reference to the kind of social mixers all-boys and all-girls have. “It was awkward for me when I went to college and I first met a woman,” he said, according to Donahue. “I didn’t even know how to act around a woman.”
Lucido insisted that he wasn’t singling out Donahue over her age and gender, claiming he made a similar comment to an all-girls school to the effect of, “How would you like to have all the boys from the Senate come over?”
But Donahue wrote that even if Lucido “never intended to cause harm with his comments,” it “doesn’t excuse how we normalize this behaviour from men in power.”
She added that while she didn’t want to make herself the subject of her reporting or portray herself as a victim, she hoped that writing about her experience would make male legislators “think twice” before making demeaning comments to female reporters and colleagues.
It wasn’t the comment that necessarily knocked me off my feet, it was the fact that he knew he could get away with saying it.
That’s not happening anymore.
— Allison R. Donahue (@donahual) January 15, 2020
After initially saying that he didn’t feel an apology was necessary and that his comments had been “blown out of proportion,” Lucido later issued a statement to the Detroit Free Press. “I apologise for the misunderstanding yesterday and for offending Allison Donahue” he said.
Michigan Republican Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey said he was taking Lucido’s comments “very seriously,” telling the Free Press that he will “have a very intense and lengthy private conversation with the senator as soon as we’re done with the session.”
Meanwhile, Michigan Democratic leaders charged that Lucido’s latest comments are just the latest instance of him demeaning women in the halls of the state capitol.
“This isn’t a case of a person saying a stupid comment that happens when people are human,” Jim Ananich, the Michigan Senate’s Democratic Minority Leader, said. “When it’s a pattern, this becomes who you are.”
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