Opinion: Why Don’t Girls and Women Speak up in NH?

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U.S. Rep. Ann Kuster, D-NH

If you wonder why girls and women don’t speak out about sexual harassment and sexual assaults, just check out the comments on the Concord Monitor’s and the New Hampshire Union Leader’s stories about U.S. Rep. Ann Kuster’s recent disclosure that she was sexually assaulted by world-famous heart surgeon Christiaan Barnard at a luncheon when she was in her early 20s.

Reporters Lola Duffort and Mark Hayward both wrote straight-forward stories about Kuster’s disclosure about the incident that occurred when she was a recent college graduate working in a congressional office in Washington, D.C., in 1979.

On the Union Leader’s comments section all 10 comments at 10 a.m. Friday appeared to be made by men and were demeaning, insulting, disbelieving and worse. The eight commenters on the Concord Monitor site were mixed, but were generally a little more supportive of Kuster.

Kuster told the newspapers that Barnard fondled her during a lunch meeting. She was sitting between him and her then boss, Congressman Pete McCloskey. She said during the meeting, Barnard put his hand underneath her skirt.

Kuster was quoted in the Union Leader: “I was just shocked. I didn’t feel anything. I didn’t know what to do. I was in the middle of a meeting. I didn’t have the presence of mind to leave.”

These are some of the comments in both newspapers with the names the individuals used.

Steven Miller in the Union Leader comments section said, “How desperate do you have to be to indict in the press a dead world famous heart surgeon? The man died 15 years ago and can’t defend himself. Nice job Annie.”

Bill Brooks said, “I have to ask if there is anyone who believes this. For a whole assortment of reasons.”

Rick Hunt  wrote, “Sorry Anny, if anyone touched that they were doing you a favor.”

And Duane Riley wrote: “HAHA! His eye sight must have been failing him at that point! You pathetic loser! Another example that the clinton media campaign workers internal polls are showing the criminal witch clinton is the one that is 14 point behind in the REAL polls, not Trump! HA!”

None of the commenters supported Kuster.

Several women were supportive in the Concord Monitor comments section, but one showed that women are not of one mind on such disclosures. One man focused on Bill Clinton being a rapist and the other questioned the circumstances.

Shannon O’Farrell Whitney wrote: “Daughters certainly need to learn how to protect themselves, but I’m sick and tired of it only being the women’s responsibility. I want parents to teach their boys to treat girls and women with respect that they are not to touch them without asking, that we aren’t there for them to cater to their whims or look pretty or whatever. Our job is not to please every guy out there. That’s what parents need to be teaching their sons.”

Nelle Douville wrote: “My heart goes out to Representative Kuster. There are too many stories like hers, when there should be none. :(“

Ernie Bridge wrote: “How in the world does Kuster imagine that name dropping Dr. Barnard will help her reelection? And why was this obscure staffer seated next to the world famous surgeon?”

Sandra Morrison wrote: “Geez, all this stuff is getting nuttier by the minute. Now Kuster was assaulted and she waited until now to say something. Furthermore the man she accuses is dead and can’t give his side of the charges. If anyone had tried that with me, they would have been dead meat. You are a lawyer lady, why did you not file charges. Seems all these experiences are marching out of everyone’s closets to derail Donald Trump and help Hillary win. However, nobody wants to look into the Clinton Closet at the White House, with the intern that got him impeached. How quickly folks forget when it is convenient. True Bill is not running but he sure becomes part of the package if Hillary makes it.”

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