For those who thought the revelations in the lawsuit by former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson about the way that Fox News head Roger Ailes’s sexually propositioned her were disgusting enough, you ain’t heard nothing yet. Gabriel Sherman interviewed six women who experienced similar things, one of whom was just 16 years old at the time, and their descriptions are revolting.
What is significant is that these are women who were propositioned decades ago and resisted his advances and escaped, even though their careers were harmed. They resisted the pressure and yet four of them still feel so ashamed of their experience that even now they do not want to use their real names. It says something about the power dynamic at play in sexual relations of the pervasive sense that people feel that even if they were the victims and resisted, they get victimized a second time by blaming themselves or feel that society will blame them, that they must have somehow “asked for it”.
What can one infer about those who, for whatever reason, felt the need to accede to this disgusting man’s demands? How many of them must there be who will never come forward because of the intense shame they feel?
More revelations are expected as more women come forward. As Sherman says:
And it appears she won’t be the last, either. In recent days, more than a dozen women have contacted Carlson’s New Jersey-based attorney, Nancy Erika Smith, and made detailed allegations of sexual harassment by Ailes over a 25-year period dating back to the 1960s when he was a producer on The Mike Douglas Show. “These are women who have never told these stories until now,” Smith told me. “Some are in lot of pain.” Taken together, these stories portray Ailes as a boss who spoke openly of expecting women to perform sexual favors in exchange for job opportunities. “He said that’s how all these men in media and politics work — everyone’s got their friend,” recalled Kellie Boyle, who says Ailes propositioned her in 1989, shortly after he helped George H.W. Bush become president, serving as his chief media strategist.
Although these are just allegations at this point and have not been legally proven, my own sense is that these charges ring true in general if not in all the details. The culture of the entertainment business (and let’s be honest, Fox News is in the entertainment business more than it is in the news business) has long been notorious as one in which sexual favors were demanded in return for career advancement. Ailes seems like just the kind of person who would take advantage of that.