Lawmaker walks back comments on 'woman's responsibility' in sexual assaults

Hollywood talked about Weinstein years ago
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Story highlights

  • The congresswoman said her words were meant to encourage females
  • Her words have a striking similarity to those used by Weinstein to defend himself

Washington (CNN)Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson on Thursday walked back comments she made earlier this week in which she appeared to blame female victims of sexual assault partially due to the way they dress.

"My comments regarding behavior and attire come from an old school perspective that has shaped how some of us understand the issue, but that does not detract from the fact that criminals need to be held accountable for their actions," Johnson, a Texas Democrat, said in a statement.
Weighing in on the Harvey Weinstein sexual assault scandal on Wednesday, Johnson told an NBC affiliate in Dallas that she "grew up in a time" in which warding off harassment was "as much the woman's responsibility as it was a man's."
    Johnson, 82, went on to explain that that included how a woman was dressed and behaved.
    "I'm from the old school that you can have behaviors that appear to be inviting. It can be interpreted as such. That's the responsibility, I think, of the female. I think that males have a responsibility to be professional themselves," she said.
    The congresswoman said her words were meant to encourage females because women have the power "to control the situation."
    "I think that many times, men get away with this because they are allowed to get away with it by the women," she added.
    Her words have a striking similarity to those used by Weinstein to defend himself against accusations. He issued a statement earlier this month to The New York Times that in part blamed the "culture" he grew up in.
    "I came of age in the '60s and '70s, when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different," Weinstein stated. "That was the culture then."