Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) appeared on NBC’s Meet the Press last weekend to talk about her own #metoo story of being sexually harassed by a former professor when she was a young law professor at the University of Houston.
Warren has already publicly told the story of the law professor who “chased her around his desk” in a far different venue — when she eulogized him during his funeral in 1997. Back then, she treated the late Eugene Smith’s behavior as a joke; an incident she claimed to remember fondly.
Twenty years after his death, her opinion of the incident has markedly changed. “Yes, I have a ‘me, too’ story too,” Warren revealed on-camera last Sunday. “I was a baby law professor and so excited to have my first real teaching job. And there was this senior faculty member who, you know, would tell dirty jokes and make comments about my appearance.”
“And one day he asked me if I would stop by his office, which I didn’t think much about,” Warren recalled. “And I did. And he slammed the door and lunged for me.”
“It was like a bad cartoon,” Warren said, her eyes wide with fear as she retold the story to fit the new narrative. “He’s chasing me around the desk, trying to get his hands on me.”
“And I kept saying, ‘You don’t want to do this. You don’t want to do this. I have little children at home. Please don’t do this,” Warren went on, describing the near assault. “And trying to talk calmly. And at the same time, what was flickering through my brain is, ‘If he gets hold of me, I’m going to punch him right in the face.’”
Warren also posted on Facebook about her “me too” experience.
“If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘me too’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem,” Warren wrote. #MeToo
But media reports caught up with Warren to remind her that she wasn’t quite so afraid of the late Professor Eugene Smith back when she attended his funeral.
In reference to a book written by retired professor John Mixon, who wrote, “During the service after his death in 1997, Warren spoke fondly of law professor Eugene Smith and told the gathered mourners she was laughing as Smith chased her around his desk,” Boston Globe reporters asked her why her story had changed.
“It was 20 years later, and he didn’t have power over me anymore,” Warren replied.
The Globe described Warren’s changed narrative as an “evolution” arrived at “amid changing attitudes about harassment and increasing empowerment of women to speak up.”
The paper also reported that Warren failed to mention on Meet The Press that Smith was severely disabled by polio and was in a wheelchair because of his disability.