Carlson Wins Battle with 20 Million Dollar Settlement but War on Women Rages on

It has been announced that former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson will receive a 20 million dollar settlement from 20th Century Fox in response to her sexual harassment lawsuit against former Fox News chairman Roger Ailes. Not only are they awarding her this historic settlement but they also issued her a public apology.

“We regret and apologize for the fact that Gretchen was not treated with the respect and dignity that she and all of our colleagues deserve.” Statement by Fox parent company 21st Century Fox.

It’s important to note that Gretchen Carlson did NOT sue 20th Century Fox, she sued Ailes, but yet it’s Fox who is paying Carlson. Initially a Fox rep claimed that Ailes would be paying some part of the Carlson settlement, but Ailes reps denied that implicitly.

Roger Ailes’ attorney, Susan Estrich, told CNBC that the former Fox News CEO is not contributing money to Gretchen Carlson’s settlement payout. 21st Century Fox reportedly confirmed that detail. Printed in Fortune by Tom Huddleston, Jr. @tjhuddle

I am glad that Gretchen Carlson is receiving such an historic settlement, however, we shouldn’t be as dazzled by the 20 million dollars. Carlson’s settlement for suffering harassment at the hands of her boss doesn’t look as monumental when you know that her abuser, Roger Ailes, received $40 million dollars, (essentially a contract buyout), just to leave. Roger Ailes is 76 years old, he essentially retired. In doing so Mr Ailes not only received zero real consequences for his years of abuse of Gretchen Carlson, and other women at Fox News, he actually profited from the experience to the tune of forty million dollars.

The good thing is that Ms Carlson’s suit, and presumptive success in filing it, has put the issue of sexual harassment in the news cycle. Even more importantly, the topic has been inserted into conversations at the digital water cooler, IE social media. We need to be talking about this very detrimental subject because sexual harassment is a common problem, and even more commonly it is not reported nor addressed properly.

When I was in college I was sexually harassed by my professor. I reported it and my division head removed me from my professors’ classes. However, since the harassing professor was the only instructor for two of my required classes I had to be enrolled in comparable classes at a different university in order to graduate. Sure it was good that I was taken out of the frying pan, but I still had fire to deal with. The echoes of the harassment reverberated on. I was ostracized by my classmates. I was seen as a trouble maker who refused to “go along to get along” with a beloved teacher. Never mind that his sexual harassment was the stuff of legend. Plus I was a fish out of water in my classes at the other school because I wasn’t a regular student there. I was victimized by my teachers’ actions, and then I was victimized again by my own reporting of the abuse. And that was just school. I didn’t have bills riding on income from the situation. My situation would have been even hotter for me had it taken place at my job. It is no mystery to me why women are so reticent to speak up and out. Even if you are one of the lucky few to get results, (and I would be considered one of those “lucky” people), you still suffer.

If abusers face no consequences for their actions, and our society continues to excuse their predatory behavior, these men will continue to hunt, harass and harm women. We have to change our societal narrative. We have to once and for all eradicate the perception and practice of seeing, believing and treating women as property; women’s bodies, their ideas, their names, their very existence. And we must rewrite our gender expectations, our permissions and tolerances. We need to stop teaching men, actively and passively, that their objectification of women is not just okay, but expected. Men must be taught not to harass, not to oggle, catcall, defame or intimidate women. No such behavior should be tolerated, celebrated, or made out to be amusing. We aren’t laughing. It’s not funny, it’s threatening. All of these behaviors, these actions, are actually varying degrees of violence against women, and they lay a perfect foundation for even greater violence such assault, rape and murder. It’s not as big a leap as some would like you to believe, it’s just a very small step down a slippery slope.

“Leadership and the prevention of sexual assault and sexual harassment are inextricably connected. “  Christopher Lagan @USCG

Yes, Gretchen Carlson’s suit was extremely important. Yes, I believe it will have reverberating ramifications in the business world. Yes, I think a few more women will step up to the mic and expose their harassing employers. Yes, Yes, Yes. We are making progress in this battle and that’s good. But bottom line, it won’t ever really get better until the war on women is defeated. And that’s going to take more than dollars, it’s going to require a lot more sense.

ML

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