Last Wednesday, Gretchen Carlson shocked the nation by announcing that she had filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against her former boss Roger Ailes. Ailes is the Chairman and CEO of Fox News and the Fox Television Stations Group.
In a statement released through a public relations firm, Carlson, said she “refused to sleep” with Ailes and “reported disparaging treatment in the newsroom,” including what she said was a "sexist and condescending" way her co-host, Steve Doocy, interacted with her.
“Ailes has unlawfully retaliated against Carlson and sabotaged her career because she refused his sexual advances and complained about severe and pervasive sexual harassment," according to the complaint. “When Carlson met with Ailes to discuss the discriminatory treatment to which she was being subjected, Ailes stated: ‘I think you and I should have had a sexual relationship a long time ago and then you’d be good and better and I’d be good and better,’ adding that ‘sometimes problems are easier to solve’ that way.”
This is incredibly problematic because Carlson felt unsafe at her workplace. No woman or person in general should ever be put in compromising positions like this.
And how did Carlson’s colleagues react? Did they stand up and say that they don’t support workplace harassment? Did they unite to show that they would try even harder to create a safe and accepting workplace environment? No. In fact, they did just the opposite. Her colleagues all rushed to defend Ailes and takedown Carlson’s character. Geraldo Rivera posted a tweet that said, “I've known him 40 years. He's about as flirty as the grizzly in #TheRevenant. I stand with Roger Ailes”. Greta Van Susteren told People magazine that Carlson filed the lawsuit out of spite because she lost her job. Jeanine Pirro called Carlson’s accusations “absurd.” The list goes on and on. Almost every single Fox employee was quick to rush to protect the person who didn’t need the protection in the first place.
How can we continue to be shocked by cases like Brock Allen’s when one of the largest media outlets in the world is publicly shaming a former coworker for filing a sexual harassment lawsuit? She is not being treated with any sort of respect, and all of her years of work at Fox are being tarnished simply because she had the courage to break from the pack and bring to light the treatment that she received.
What shocks me them most is how her female coworkers are the ones who are doing the worst victim blaming. They were so quick to tear down Carlson’s character in defense of their male boss without showing an ounce on empathy.
Women will never truly receive respect and sexual harassment and rape will never be taken seriously if women don’t unite and unamiously agree to support each other when one says that she is being sexually assaulted.
In my opinion, FOX is a toxic, unsupportive work environment that can discard its employees the minute they critique the company they work for. Not only it that a shame, its flat out dangerous.
Jillian James is the Opinions Editor for the Central Florida Future. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.