Sexual harassment is something that women are faced with on a daily basis, but choose to stay silent about for fear of losing their job or being alienated. They often blame themselves thinking that they provoke this type of behaviour from their abuser, especially in male-dominated industries. Men from Hollywood to academia, technology to politics have been publicly accused of harassment in the workplace, and relatively few of them ever receive any kind of punishment.
Here’s a look at some of the scandals that made the headlines and have encouraged more women around the world to share their stories and shame the powerful monsters that rule the working world.
1. Harvey Weinstein
Harvey Weinstein, the famous film producer began his sudden fall from grace when the New York Times published revelations about his sexual attack on over 30 young actresses. Famous women including Cara Delevigne, Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie and Alyssa Milano all started sharing their own stories about Weinstein accusing the producer of sexual misconduct and rape. Weinstein was quickly fired from the Weinstein Co. which he co-founded but continues to deny all allegations. What’s interesting is that this scandal sparked a viral #metoo campaign on social media by the famous actress Alyssa Milano, encouraging women all around the world to share their personal stories.
2. Bob Weinstein
It seems that bad blood runs in the family as Bob was also accused of sexual harassment in the workplace, following the accusations of his brother. “The Mist” showrunner Amanda Segel has stepped forward, accusing Weinstein of sexual harassment during the production of the show. Bob has denied any inappropriate conduct just like his brother.
3. Roger Ailes
Roger Ailes was ousted as the chairman and top executive of Fox News when a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against him by former anchor Gretchen Carlson led to reports that he approached multiple other women for sexual favours in return for opportunities to advance their careers. Fox news paid a settlement to the women that accused Ailes. He passed away in May 2017 while the case was still open. What’s heartbreaking is that it took over two decades for the victims to find a voice and speak out about their distressing encounters with their boss.
4. Bill O’Reilly
This scandal also lies within the walls of Fox news with TV host Bill O’Reilly. He has reportedly paid $13 million in settlements against women who have accused him of sexual harassment since 2002. CNN reported that “the revelation was especially hard for younger female employees who feared that they are working in an archaic, Mad Men-era work environment and have no leverage against powerful on-air talents like O'Reilly.” The story quickly led to O’Reilly being fired from the network.
5. David Lettermen
Letterman's sexism charges stem beyond his jokes and seemingly unfiltered quips. The funny host has been accused of running a sexist working environment behind the scenes, a charge that was seemingly validated when Letterman himself admitted on air in 2009 to having extramarital affairs with several female staffers. In October 2009, the same month that Letterman made his confession, former Late Show writer Nell Scovell — one of the few female writers in the show's history — wrote a tell-all account for Vanity Fair, in which she describes her less-than-pleasant experience on his staff:
“There’s a subset of sexual harassment called sexual favouritism that, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, can lead to a “hostile work environment,” often “creating an atmosphere that is demeaning to women…And that pretty much sums up my experience at Late Night with David Letterman.”
6. Roy Price
In the wake of the Weinstein scandal, Amazon studio chief Roy Price was suspended after executive producer Isa Hackett told the Hollywood Reporter that she had reported Price for repeatedly propositioning her and making lewd comments while promoting the show at Comic-Con in 2014. She had made it clear she was not interested, but Price persisted and even approached her at the party later and shouted "anal sex" in her ear. She reported his behaviour to studio executives, who launched an investigation. He has since resigned from Amazon Studios.
7. L.A. Reid
The man we watched and loved on the American X Factor also has some dirty skeletons in his closet. Antonio Reid left his post as chairman of Epic Records in May after accusations made by a female colleague that he had sexually harassed her every day for over a year. She said that he had made inappropriate remarks and physical advances, including asking her to hug him in bed during a business trip.
8. Rohit Varma
USC medical school Dean Rohit Varma was ousted from his position in October 2017 after being accused years earlier of making unwanted sexual advances toward a young researcher and retaliating against her for reporting him. USC reprimanded Varma in 2003, and the university paid the researcher more than $100,000 to settle the incident. Just as The Times was preparing to publish an investigation of the incident, he was fired; USC Provost Michael Quick said the decision was based on “previously undisclosed information.”
9. Donald Trump
In addition to the leaked 2005 "Access Hollywood" tape that included audio of Donald Trump bragging about making unwanted sexual advances on women, including grabbing them by their genitals, multiple women have accused Trump of varying levels of sexual misconduct. He has denied all allegations and is still taking top seat in the White House.
10. Larry Nassar
The USA gymnastics doctor that was once idolised by many was accused of sexually assaulting ten gymnasts including Olympic gold medalist McKayla Maroney. She reported that he molested her for several years starting when she was 13. Nassar, who is already in jail awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to possession of child pornography this summer, has also been sued by more than 125 women and girls alleging abuse.
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Johnson East, famous American gymnast told People Magazine that in both the Weinstein and gymnastics cases, brave women are to thank for bringing down powerful men. “The more voices that come out, the more people can start relating to it, and saying, oh, there actually is an issue that we need to fix.”
I’m hopeful that the movement of women finally speaking up and facing their abusers will put an end to any shape or form of sexual harassment, and that woman and men all over the world find their voice to speak up and share their story.
How do you feel about these high-profile scandals? Do you think that we are starting to see a change in sexual harassment? If you have any stories you’d like to share to encourage other readers, leave them in the section below…