North Texas Daily

Fox News’s place in the sexual harassment plague

Fox News’s place in the sexual harassment plague

Fox News’s place in the sexual harassment plague
April 11
22:03 2017

Gabriela Macias | Staff Writer

Last week, The New York Times exposed several sexual harassment allegations against Fox News’ biggest star, Bill O’Reilly. The investigation found that the network has stood behind the No. 1 cable news host regardless. The report also found five women who either O’Reilly or the network paid in agreement to either not pursue legal action or to not make the allegations public. The total amount in those settlements was reportedly about $13 million.

It is not surprising since last year, the network had a similar case involving its former CEO, Roger Ailes, when he was accused of harassment by at least 20 women. We also have a president who bragged about grabbing women inappropriately and against their will. But still, he was elected to the highest office in the land.

Over and over again, we see powerful men getting away with perpetuating violence against women and being rewarded for it. They are given opportunities no one would imagine. They are given infinite amounts of second chances. Because when the news breaks, it is not the men who get dissected or their actions judged. It is the women – victims and survivors – who are taken apart, whose intentions are questioned and whose clothes get analyzed to an appalling degree.

We live in a country where 75 percent of people who experience sexual harassment do not report it. Where, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, over half of the sexual harassment claims in 2015 resulted in no charge.

Given all this information and the importance of action, what is most alarming about the reporting is not that O’Reilly and Ailes got away with it. What is most surprising is how unmoved we seem towards new reports of women being abused. How numb we as a society have become, but not out of indifference. Because in a way violence against women has been normalized so often by movies and TV. It looks glamorous and also temporary. It is something that happens once and is overcome, quickly forgotten later on.

What we do not see on the screen is the real toll it takes on the person. The permanent mark it leaves. We should address sexual violence, not as a taboo but as a reality that every women can face, and how men need to be held accountable for their actions, regardless of their position or potential for recovery.

We need to acknowledge that we live in a time where the term “rape culture” is a clear depiction of the environment surrounding women. In her essay “The Careless Language of Sexual Violence Roxane Gay brilliantly explains, “This phrase denotes a culture where we are inundated, in different ways, by the idea that male aggression and violence towards women is acceptable and often inevitable.”

We cannot accept this behavior as a norm. We need to create an environment in which women can feel safe everywhere, especially in work spaces. As a society we need to care, not because it could have been our mothers, sisters, friends or aunts – we need to care because women are human beings who deserve respect and dignity. We need to protect each other because it is not just “locker room talk,” it is an admission of power abuse. Women’s bodies can and will be abused if we all stand by and continue letting it happen.

Featured Illustration: Samuel Wiggins

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Gabriela Macias

Gabriela Macias

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