Thursday, April 06, 2017

Oh Really, O'Reilly? On Fox, Women and The Demand For Foxy Women

One day's worth of Fox News is sufficient to teach anyone that the requirements to get a speaking head job at Fox differ for men and women:  Men can look like a very lonely sprouting and withered potato, as long as they know how to be a pundit, but women must also be eye-candy, as this 2015 compilation of many of the Fox television faces demonstrates:

And two witnesses have stated that the women Fox employs are not allowed to wear long pants while punditing, probably because they must show some leg to those Fox views watchers who tilt older, white and male.

A discrimination case could be built against Fox News from  just the above evidence, because it looks like no competent female pundit can hope to get a job at Fox News without having the required eye-candy quotient.  That is an extra requirement applied to only female pundits.

Still, there's more:  At least two powerful men at Fox News:  Bill O'Reilly of the O'Reilly Factor, and former Fox chair Roger Ailes seemed unable to understand that all those foxy ladies the network has hired are only to be ogled at and not to be groped:

Much has happened in the three days since the New York Times published revelations that Bill O’Reilly and Fox News had paid $13 million in settlements to five women who accused the network star of harassment. On Monday, another Fox contributor filed a lawsuit alleging that she’d been victimized by former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, who she says was enabled and supported by current Co-President Bill Shine. Then, one of O’Reilly’s accusers, who never received and is not seeking a settlement, joined her lawyer in a call for a New York City or state investigation into patterns of sexual harassment, retaliation, and cover-up at Fox News.
The reason we have not heard about those thirteen million dollar settlements before is that they were private.  Now our Dear Leader has signed an executive order to make such secret settlements much more common in the future:

On March 27, Trump revoked the 2014 Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces order then-President Barack Obama put in place to ensure that companies with federal contracts comply with 14 labor and civil rights laws. The Fair Pay order was put in place after a 2010 Government Accountability Office investigation showed that companies with rampant violations were being awarded millions in federal contracts.
In an attempt to keep the worst violators from receiving taxpayer dollars, the Fair Pay order included two rules that impacted women workers: paycheck transparency and a ban on forced arbitration clauses for sexual harassment, sexual assault or discrimination claims.
 It's that last sentence (bolded by me) which matters in this context.  Forced arbitration clauses (which are now perfectly AOK again) mean that we might never learn about other places where rampant sexual harassment is part of the corporate culture, as it clearly is at Fox News.

Gretchen Carlson's original lawsuit ran around the arbitration clause in her contract by suing not Fox News but Roger Ailes directly.  Ailes's lawyers argued that Carlson had broken her contract and tried to make her go into secret arbitration.  Had they succeeded in that the many women at Fox News who had been sexually harassed might have all thought that they were the only ones.  And the culture of harassment would have been allowed to thrive.

Now Trump is contributing to that very future for all American women in the labor force.

But the news are not all negative:  The O'Reilly Factor is losing advertisers at a rapid clip.  Mercedes Benz, BMW, Hyundai and many other companies have pulled their advertising from being contaminated by close proximity to The O'Reilly Factor and its host's views about women.

Then a deeper question:  Doesn't even the most superficial watching of Fox News tell any prospective employee that the role of women in that network is not the same as the role of men? 

Women are meant to be decorative and sexually attractive, men are not (rather the reverse, in my honest opinion).  So what would make a prospective female employee believe that this difference wouldn't affect promotion chances, pay and perhaps even the odds of being expected to cater for the sexual needs of some of the powerful men at Fox News?

My intention is not to blame the victims here.  Rather, I wonder if all the television jobs share enough of that eye-candy demand for women so that the more extreme conditions at Fox News are less obvious to those in the industry than they are to me?