Tag Archives: sexual harassment

Sexual Harassment and Accountability: Al Franken vs. Roy Moore

Two politicians, on polar opposites of the spectrum, were disgraced with charges of sexual harassment this month.

First, we had Roy Moore, the brash, Bible-thumping, Supreme Court-ignoring former Alabama chief justice. Before five women came forward with stories of being molested by Moore in their teens, he was poised to beat Democrat Doug Jones in the race to fill the Alabama Senate seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Second, enter Minnesota Sen. Al Franken, who was accused of molesting Los Angeles-based KABC radio anchor Leeann Tweeden during a 2006 USO tour, two years before he was elected to the Senate. In her statement, Tweeden recalled the former “Saturday Night Live” comedian had written some sketches as part of the show, including a scene where the two kiss.

On the day of the show Franken and I were alone backstage going over our lines one last time. He said to me, “We need to rehearse the kiss.” I laughed and ignored him. Then he said it again. I said something like, ‘Relax Al, this isn’t SNL … we don’t need to rehearse the kiss.’

He continued to insist, and I was beginning to get uncomfortable.

He repeated that actors really need to rehearse everything and that we must practice the kiss. I said ‘OK’ so he would stop badgering me. We did the line leading up to the kiss and then he came at me, put his hand on the back of my head, mashed his lips against mine and aggressively stuck his tongue in my mouth.

I immediately pushed him away with both of my hands against his chest and told him if he ever did that to me again I wouldn’t be so nice about it the next time.

I walked away. All I could think about was getting to a bathroom as fast as possible to rinse the taste of him out of my mouth.

I felt disgusted and violated.

In addition to Franken’s behavior backstage, he took a photo during the flight home, smiling at the camera with his hands over Tweeden’s chest while she slept. His response to her accusations was immediate, issuing an apology and assuming responsibility for his actions:

The first thing I want to do is apologize: to Leeann, to everyone else who was part of that tour, to everyone who has worked for me, to everyone I represent, and to everyone who counts on me to be an ally and supporter and champion of women. There’s more I want to say, but the first and most important thing—and if it’s the only thing you care to hear, that’s fine—is: I’m sorry.

I respect women. I don’t respect men who don’t. And the fact that my own actions have given people a good reason to doubt that makes me feel ashamed.

But I want to say something else, too. Over the last few months, all of us—including and especially men who respect women—have been forced to take a good, hard look at our own actions and think (perhaps, shamefully, for the first time) about how those actions have affected women.

For instance, that picture. I don’t know what was in my head when I took that picture, and it doesn’t matter. There’s no excuse. I look at it now and I feel disgusted with myself. It isn’t funny. It’s completely inappropriate. It’s obvious how Leeann would feel violated by that picture. And, what’s more, I can see how millions of other women would feel violated by it—women who have had similar experiences in their own lives, women who fear having those experiences, women who look up to me, women who have counted on me.

Coming from the world of comedy, I’ve told and written a lot of jokes that I once thought were funny but later came to realize were just plain offensive. But the intentions behind my actions aren’t the point at all. It’s the impact these jokes had on others that matters. And I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to come to terms with that.

While I don’t remember the rehearsal for the skit as Leeann does, I understand why we need to listen to and believe women’s experiences.

I am asking that an ethics investigation be undertaken, and I will gladly cooperate.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did just that, calling for an ethics investigation.

As with all credible allegations of sexual harassment or assault, I believe the Ethics Committee should review the matter. I hope the Democratic leaders will join me on this. Regardless of party, harassment and assault are completely unacceptable—in the workplace or anywhere else.

Al Franken was among the Democrats who joined him. The first to condemn him was embattled Republican candidate Roy Moore, who responded via Twitter.

 

Al Franken admits guilt after photographic evidence of his abuse surfaces.

Mitch: “Let’s investigate.”

In Alabama, ZERO evidence, allegations 100% rejected.

Mitch: “Moore must quit immediately or be expelled.”

President Trump, who has remained silent on the accusations leveled against Moore, was quick to comment on Franken’s case through Sarah Huckabee Sanders, with the spokesperson telling reporters the Senate ethics probe is the “appropriate action.”

These events come on the heels of a bipartisan effort this week to reform the way sexual harassment is treated on Capitol Hill. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., unveiled separate bills addressing the complaint process and boosting transparency. The actions came a day after Speier (who revealed her own #MeToo story in October) testified in congressional hearings Tuesday on the subject following last week’s passage of a Senate measure calling for more sexual harassment training.

Speier said:

I have had numerous meetings with phone calls with staffers, both present and former, women and men who have been subjected to this inexcusable and often illegal behavior. In fact, there are two members of Congress, Republican and Democrat, right now, who … have engaged in sexual harassment.

These harasser propositions such as, ‘are you going to be a good girl,’ to perpetrators exposing their genitals, to victims having their private parts grabbed on the House floor. All they ask as staff members is to be able to work in a hostile-free work environment. They want the system fixed, and the perpetrators held accountable.

Speier went on to note that Congress paid out $15 million of taxpayer money in harassment settlements over more than a decade with guilty parties remaining anonymous. A member of the first House Administration Committee’s hearing to review sexual misconduct policy in the House, Barbara Comstock, R-Va., brought the point home:

There is new recognition of this problem and the need for change of a culture that looks the other way because of who the offenders are. Whether it’s Bill Cosby, Bill O’Reilly, Mark Halperin, Roger Ailes, Kevin Spacey or one of our own, it’s time to say no more.n

Now that the sexual harassment issue is public, what kind of impact will new measures and prevention training make? The hope is that the #MeToo moment is not squandered.

By Jordan Riefe/truthdig

Posted by The NON-Conformist

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Coverage of sexual harassment claims carelessly blurs lines between minor misconduct and real abuse

It is undeniably a great thing that abusers like Harvey Weinstein are finally receiving their comeuppance, however overdue it may be. But in the aftermath of Weinstein’s downfall, we’re at risk of broadening the definition of sexual harassment too widely.

There is a vast difference between genuine sexual harassment, abuse or rape — and minor misconduct, flirting or otherwise inappropriate behavior in the workplace (or anywhere else). Yet, in recent weeks, the two have been dangerously conflated.

Since the deluge of Weinstein revelations, we’ve seen other ‘scandals’ emerge whereby some man or other may or may not have flirted inappropriately without reciprocation years ago. The fact that these kinds of minor accusations are making headlines and being portrayed as sexual misconduct or outright harassment is disturbing, to say the least. Not to mention, the irresponsible conflation of the two is an injustice and an insult to women — and men — who have experienced real harassment or rape at the hands of a genuine abuser.

Trial by social media

In the past couple of weeks, I’ve seen so many people in my social media feeds posting #MeToo statuses that what started as an important reminder that sexual abuse is indeed far too prevalent, has lost all meaning. When you see someone posting a #MeToo status today, are you to assume they were raped or that someone sent them an inappropriate text once?

UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon resigned last week over allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior. What started out as one accusation that Fallon inappropriately touched the knee of a journalist many years ago was revealed to be a genuine pattern of inappropriate behavior (attempting to kiss one journalist and making lewd remarks to another). Fallon’s resignation is appropriate in that context — but what is fascinating is that so many people were willing to condemn him when the only piece of information we had was that he had touched a woman’s knee.

That Fallon has indeed turned out to be a bit of a pervert is beside the point. He has admitted his behavior was wrong and resigned — but others have denied allegations being made against them. Nonetheless, we’re supposed to condemn them anyway. Have we just decided to do away with the presumption of innocence, or at the very least the idea that these matters should be dealt with through lawyers and courts, not on Facebook and Twitter? Are we supposed to completely ignore the possibility that just maybe, an accusation could be false?

This kind of trial by social media is dangerous. A simple tweet can brand a person as a rapist who deserves to lose their job and have their lives utterly destroyed in an instant — on nothing more than the say-so of another person.

Sterile culture

A couple of weeks ago, Adam Sandler found himself in the firing line when he touched actress Claire Foy’s knee twice during The Graham Norton Show. Some viewers were so outraged by the contact Sandler had made with Foy’s knee that she was forced to release a statement saying she was not angry or offended by Sandler’s gesture. If this kind of behavior is classed as sexual harassment or as outrageously inappropriate as some viewers suggested, we appear to be on our way toward living in a completely sterile, robotic and puritanical world where nobody can say or do anything for fear of pious backlash from the political correctness police.

There is also an insulting, sexist and patronizing element to all of this which makes women out to be weak-minded, overly sensitive creatures who can’t even handle a sexual joke being told in their presence. Or who are so vulnerable that they simply can’t be left alone to fend for themselves. One POLITICO journalist recently suggested that a good way to limit sexual harassment would be to make closed-door meetings in the workplace a fireable offense.

Small, practical step to limit sex harassment: Make holding closed-door meetings with ANYONE a fire-able offense. https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/i-dont-want-to-sit-on-your-lap-she-said-but-mark-halperin-insisted/2017/10/26/0baa883c-ba64-11e7-9e58-e6288544af98_story.html 

‘I don’t want to sit on your lap,’ she thought. But, she alleges, Mark Halperin insisted.

A star TV journalist falls from his perch amid multiple sexual harassment allegations.

It is frankly insane to think this is how to prevent sexual harassment. It is almost like saying that women are too vulnerable and weak to stand up for themselves behind a closed door — and men are too disgusting and perverted to resist harassing them when they are in a private setting. I for one would hate to work in an environment where you could get fired for closing a door, just in case someone might have harassed you.

Singer-songwriter Marian Call tweeted that all women want to live in a world where strangers and coworkers “never flirted” with them again. Well, how exactly does she know what all women want? Many a happy relationship has begun as the result of workplace flirtation or a chance meeting with a stranger. One has to wonder how Call feels about women who initiate flirtatious behavior themselves— because as shocking as it may be for some, this happens on a regular basis.

This obsession with defining every sultry glance or flirty comment as sexual harassment has got so out of hand that there are now even sexual consent apps available online to download. Yes, you are now supposed to stop in your tracks and click an “I consent” button on your phone before having sex. How romantic.

Can’t get it right

I recently witnessed an interesting discussion in an online forum. A man had asked if it was appropriate to apologize to a woman in the case of minor inappropriate behavior (making unwanted advances, flirting inappropriately, making sexist jokes, etc.) — or whether it was best to say nothing, move on and do better next time. He was attacked from every angle by women who acted like he was suggesting that men send an “oops, sorry” apology text for rape. Almost every single woman told him that an apology would be useless and inappropriate and he received a barrage of comments about how he just didn’t understand and was essentially an idiot for even posing the question.

Yet, the question was well-intentioned and coming from a man who seemingly wanted to examine his own behavior in light of recent events, and who simply wondered if an apology for very minor inappropriateness would be an excellent first step. Is that not what this is all about? Is it not a good thing that many men are thinking about this more seriously for the first time? I thought that’s what everyone wanted — but apparently not.

There is of course an expectation that both men and women will behave appropriately in the workplace. It is totally unacceptable to abuse or harass anyone or to make overt and inappropriate advances where there has been no indication they would be well-received. There is also no doubt that if someone has been made aware that his or her behavior has made someone uncomfortable in any way, the behavior should be stopped. It is also absolutely a good thing that the Weinstein scandal has made women feel more comfortable talking about cases of real, genuine abuse and harassment.

But, at the same time, we need to take a step back and think about what kind of world we want to live in. Do we want it to be one where a harmless flirtation or a sexual joke — or a social media allegation of a single inappropriate touch — can destroy your whole life and elicit comparisons with serial abusers like Harvey Weinstein?

There is no clear rulebook here, but we have to do better at distinguishing between true abuse and minor inappropriateness. To conflate the two does no one any good.

By Danielle Ryan/RT

posted by The NON-Conformist

HBO drops Mark Halperin project after sexual harassment allegations

HBO has dropped its upcoming movie deal with Mark Halperin following allegations of sexual harassment.

HBO drops Mark Halperin project after sexual harassment allegations
Image: Getty

“HBO is no longer proceeding with the project tied to the untitled book co-authored by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann on the 2016 Presidential election,” the network said in a statement, according to CNN. “HBO has no tolerance for sexual harassment within the company or its productions.”

Halperin, an NBC senior political analyst and frequent guest on “Morning Joe,” said Thursday that he would “step back” from his role after five women accused him of sexually harassing them while at ABC News.

“I now understand from these accounts that my behavior was inappropriate and caused others pain,” Halperin said in an apology statement to CNN.

NBC said in a statement that it finds the CNN report and allegations “very troubling.”

“Mark Halperin is leaving his role as a contributor until the questions around his past conduct are fully understood.”

The allegations include sexual overtures to lower-ranking employees, kissing without consent and grinding up against three women while pressing an erection against them.

Halperin’s bestselling book about the 2008 election, “Game Change,” was adapted by HBO into a film starring Julianne Moore and Ed Harris.

More from The Hill

Posted by Libergirl

 

 

Will Bill O’Reilly Survive at Fox News?

Bill O'Reilly screenshot
Image: Talking Points Memo

While America is still recovering from the shock of learning that Barry Manilow is gay, we shouldn’t forget another “stunning” recent revelation. Bill O’Reilly’s show on Fox News is in big trouble: Advertisers are fleeing due to news that the network has had to reportedly pay at least $13 million to protect him from sexual harassment lawsuits, mostly from women who worked with him.

As of this writing, dozens of major companies have pulled advertising from the show in some form. Ironically, or perhaps relatedly, reports indicate that Fox renewed O’Reilly’s contract in the midst of all of this, which may have actually helped provoke more outrage.

More from Mediate

Posted by Libergirl

New York court declares unpaid interns can’t file sexual harassment charges against employers

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York dismissed Lihuan Wang’s sexual harassment suit against Phoenix Satellite Television today because, it said, she was not a compensated employee.

Image: thechicago-injury-lawyer.com

Wang was two weeks into her internship at the Chinese-language media company when, she alleges, her supervisor and bureau chief, Liu Zhengzhu, asked her to accompany him to his hotel room after a business lunch so he could drop off some things and talk about her performance. Once in the hotel room, according to the complaint, he started to strip and threw his arms around her while saying “Why are you so beautiful? Why?”

She further alleges that he then tried to kiss her, and squeezed her buttocks, at which point Wang left the room. When she later asked about her performance, the complaint asserts that Zhengzhu invited her to join him on a trip to Atlantic City.

More from the Raw Story

Posted by the NON-Conformist

Filner Set To Return To City Hall Amid Recall Effort

According to the age-old saying, time heals all. But for Mayor Bob Filner, his troubles have only continued to mount while he was away in therapy.

Image: AP, Gregory Bull

Even the local Hooters restaurants have posted signs saying he is not welcome there.

Filner is expected to appear at City Hall on Monday, when he has said he will return to work after undergoing an intensive two-week therapy program.

More than a dozen women, including a university dean and a retired Navy rear admiral, have gone public with accusations. Some contend he cornered them, groping and slobbering them with kisses.

Filner’s former communications director, Irene McCormack Jackson, filed a lawsuit claiming that he asked her to work without panties, demanded kisses, told her he wanted to see her naked and dragged her in a headlock while whispering in her ear.

The latest accuser spoke Thursday — a 67-year-old volunteer city worker who assists senior citizens.

Filner, a Democrat, returns to louder calls for his resignation, and an even stronger fight to boot him out if he does not step down. He’s now confronting his biggest challenges yet, some say.

A recall campaign started its petition drive a day before his return. Meanwhile, more women went public during his absence with lurid claims. He also returns to investigations over his handling of city finances, including questions over a trip to Paris.

More from AP via TPM

Posted by Libergirl

Bob Filner’s lawyer: San Diego may be blamed

The attorney for San Diego Mayor Bob Filner says the city could well be liable for “failing to prevent harassment” in the sexual harassment lawsuit brought against its mayor.

“If there is any liability at all, the City will almost certainly be liable,” Filner’s attorney, Harvey Berger, wrote in a letter Monday to San Diego City Attorney Jan Goldsmith.

Berger explained that San Diego is obligated to provide its management-level employees with sexual harassment training, which he said the city failed to do for Filner.

Eight women have accused Filner of sexual harassment and the first to do so, his former communications director Irene McCormack Jackson, filed a lawsuit against the mayor last week. Berger’s letter refers to this lawsuit.

More at Politico

Posted by Libergirl