November 22, 2017

The publisher of the Arizona Republic joins the growing list of women accusing an Arizona state representative of sexual harassment


Mi-Ai Parrish. Via Twitter.

Earlier this month, Dustin Gardiner reported for on the increasing number of sexual harassment accusations against Arizona State Representative Don Shooter. 

At that point, many women (an original five, plus a steady trickle of others) had gone on record to accuse Shooter (a Republican from Yuma) of behavior ranging from inappropriate comments to unwanted touching. Investigations into these allegations have been opened.

More recently, Publisher of the Arizona RepublicMi-Ai Parrish, wrote a column detailing an incident in which Representative Shooter made an inappropriate comment to her. Parrish writes:

An attorney and I were meeting with then-Sen. Shooter at his office in the Arizona Senate about proposed legislation that would impact local newspapers. I was there to tell him that the bill would cut private-sector jobs, increase the size and cost of government and be harmful to government transparency. I explained that I understood he might be under pressure from leadership, but asked that he use his own best judgment in his vote.

It was March 2016 and I was the new president and publisher of the state’s largest media company. It was our first meeting. Shooter shared that he was an independent thinker, who kept his own counsel, made his own choices and had done everything on his “bucket list.”

Like a good journalist, Parrish followed up by asking what that one thing that got away was — to which he responded: “Those Asian twins in Mexico.” Parrish, an Asian-American, brushed it off at the time, but circles back in her column to be clear that that type of behavior is simply not OK.

According to Bob Christie of the Associated Press:

Shooter wielded considerable power as head of the House Appropriations Committee and is known around the Capitol as a politically incorrect jokester who threw booze-laden parties in his office on the last day of legislative sessions.

But perhaps it is time to focus much less on famous men and their famous lifestyles (which are simply a codename for serial harassment), and more on the victims and the opportunities they may have missed thanks to the boys’ club running the world. Distressingly, Parrish writes that the Shooter incident was just one more in a long line of harassments that she (and indeed, most women) has faced over her career in journalism. In her twenties, for example, an editor asked her to change her author photograph because, to his objectifying eye, a long-sleeved black shirt on an Asian woman made her “look like a dominatrix.”

Imagine the number of young writers who have called it quits right then and there.

Ryan Harrington is a senior editor at Melville House.