WOMEN ACCUSE KNIGHT LANDESMAN, ART WORLD MAINSTAY, OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT (cont’d)

“We will do everything in our ability to bring our workplace in line with our editorial mission, and we will use this opportunity to transform Artforum into a place of transparency, equity, and with zero tolerance for sexual harassment of any kind,” the statement said.

Mr. Landesman’s resignation was the latest shocking turn in the wave of accusations that have inundated powerful men in Hollywood, politics and the literary world in recent weeks. Earlier this month, The New York Times and The New Yorker published articles describing decades of sexual predations by the film producer Harvey Weinstein. Two weeks later, women in the California Statehouse began making public their own experiences with sexual harassment. On Tuesday, The Times published an article in which Leon Wieseltier, the former literary editor of The New Republic, admitted to committing “offenses” against his female colleagues.

For decades, Mr. Landesman, 67, had been a pillar of the international art scene, a man-about-town known from the galleries of Manhattan to the Art Basel fair in Switzerland for his primary-colored suits and deep connections in the industry. The brother of the renowned Broadway producer Rocco Landesman, who once served as the head of the National Endowment for the Arts, he started at Artforum in the 1980s and until Wednesday had run the magazine with his three co-publishers, Anthony Korner, Charles Guarino and Danielle McConnell.

Mr. Landesman, a mainstay of the international art scene, in 2011. He resigned from Artforum on Wednesday afternoon, hours after the lawsuit was filed. Credit Julie Glassberg for The New York Times
The lawsuit that preceded his departure was filed in State Supreme Court in Manhattan and included accusations that he had harassed nine women, groping them, attempting to kiss them, sending them vulgar messages and, on occasion, retaliating against them when they spurned his advances. The accounts were from both former employees at the magazine and women Mr. Landesman met at art events, all of whom said he took advantage of them at “the start of their careers” when they were “economically and professionally vulnerable.” The suit also accused the owners of Artforum, one of the art world’s premier publications, of being aware of his behavior but doing little to stop it.

The only named plaintiff in the suit is Amanda Schmitt, a New York curator who started working at Artforum in 2009 when she was 21. Shortly after Ms. Schmitt took the job, the suit contended, Mr. Landesman “singled her out for unwelcome sexual attention,” subjecting her to questions about her sex life while “touching her, uninvited, on her hips, shoulders, buttocks, hands and neck.”

Ms. Schmitt left Artforum in August 2012, but two weeks later, after she had started a new job in sales, Mr. Landesman sent her an email, reviewed by The Times, in which he praised “brown nosing” as a sales technique before veering off into a different — and sexually explicit — description of the practice. Not long after, Mr. Landesman invited Ms. Schmitt to tea, ostensibly to discuss her career, and grabbed her by the shoulders, trying to kiss her, the suit said. It also cited another incident in which Mr. Landesman is said to have told Ms. Schmitt that she needed to be “more open to physical contact to succeed” and demonstrated by running his finger down her body.

In December 2012, while both were attending Art Basel Miami, Mr. Landesman barraged Ms. Schmitt with text messages asking that she meet him alone and kiss him for “three seconds,” the suit claimed. When Ms. Schmitt refused, Mr. Landesman sent an email saying: “Give yourself to me! ALL of you = to all of me.”

Although Ms. Schmitt tried to cut off contact, Mr. Landesman continued sending notes, asking if she was making herself “climax” and was “ready to make it a bit physical.” Over the next two years, when he saw Ms. Schmitt at art events, the suit said, he would often whisper to her about masturbation and spanking, and touch her without consent.

In May 2016, Ms. Schmitt met with Mr. Landesman, pleading with him to stop. But according to the suit, he responded by reaching his shoeless foot out to caress her. The following month, Ms. Schmitt sent him a text message saying: “You have been sexually harassing me since 2012 and continue to do so. I want it to stop.” Mr. Landesman wrote back promising “professionalism in the future,” but then asked if they could “get on the same page,” adding, “I’d like to be an ally.”

On June 15, 2016, Ms. Schmitt met with two of Artforum’s other publishers, Ms. McConnell and Mr. Guarino, showing them some of the messages Mr. Landesman had sent. That same day, Mr. Guarino sent Ms. Schmitt an email promising “he was taking action to insure that whatever may have transpired never happens again.” But according to the suit, Mr. Landesman continued sending messages, and Artforum stopped inviting Ms. Schmitt to its events.

Then in May, the suit said, Mr. Landesman accosted Ms. Schmitt at a restaurant while she was eating with her romantic partner and an art critic. Sitting at the table uninvited, Mr. Landesman claimed that Ms. Schmitt had “unfairly accused” him of harassment and demanded she discuss it with him in front of her guests, the suit contended. Ms. Schmitt walked off, but then returned and “listed for Landesman his many acts of harassment.”

Three months ago, Ms. Schmitt’s lawyer, Emily Reisbaum, sent Artforum a letter detailing those acts as well as the accounts of other women who claim Mr. Landesman harassed them. The letter demanded that the harassment stop and that Artforum pay Ms. Schmitt’s legal and therapy bills. Negotiations broke down last week, Ms. Reisbaum said, partly because Artforum demanded that Ms. Schmitt not speak to the media.

Her lawsuit includes the other women’s accounts, although none of them joined it as plaintiffs. While their stories suggest a pattern of harassment, it remains unclear if they can be considered as corroborating evidence since some of the accusers never worked for Mr. Landesman.

One of them, Elisabeth McAvoy, did work at Artforum — on and off from 2010 to 2013 — and described how Mr. Landesman often subjected her to “unwanted touching.” Ms. McAvoy, who was in her 20s then and shared a bedroom with her sister, said that Mr. Landesman once encouraged her to get her own apartment so that her sister could masturbate herself to sleep.

Jordana Zeldin, a former Manhattan gallery owner, met Mr. Landesman at an art opening in 2012 and said that when he saw her boyfriend giving her a back rub, he began to pressure her for back rubs in a series of emails over the next several weeks. When Ms. Zeldin finally put her foot down, Mr. Landesman sent her an email saying she should ask for forgiveness. “How about a small apology,” the email said. “‘Knight I feel a little guilty that somehow I may have lead you on into thinking I’d give you a great backrub.”

Valerie Werder, who worked in a gallery, said that Mr. Landesman groped her after introducing her to one of her favorite art writers at an industry gala last year. Another gallery worker, Alissa McKendrick, said he did the same to her at the Whitney Biennial in 2012.

In an interview this week, Ms. Schmitt said that she never wanted to sue, but that she did so not just to protect herself, but also “the countless young men and women starting out in the art world.”

“I had no power and no voice then,” she said. “I don’t feel that way anymore.”

Alan Fueur
New York Time

The failure of Italian feminism (cont’d)

So, yes, we have room for improvement when it comes to gender relations. And yet something doesn’t ring true to me in the idea that this episode is another example of my country just being male-run, sexist Italy.

It hasn’t, for instance, been in the male-dominated world of newspapers where Ms. Argento has been on the receiving end of the worst attacks. While there have been some widely cited examples of egregious behavior — the editor in chief of a right-wing tabloid said Ms. Argento “must have liked it” — these are exceptions. The bulk of the Italian press has been on Ms. Argento’s side. It has, rightly, treated her gently: The newspaper La Stampa published a 2,000-word interview with her in which she denied that she’d maintained a five-year relationship with Mr. Weinstein, despite having previously acknowledged one in The New Yorker; the interviewer never challenged her on this. Prominent male columnists have come to Ms. Argento’s defense — this, in a country that has a total of zero national newspapers edited by women and zero female columnists in its main national papers.

Where the reaction to Ms. Argento’s account has been truly vicious has been on social media. And there, it has primarily come from women.

There was the woman who wouldn’t believe Ms. Argento because she did not find her likable when she was competing on “Dancing With the Stars”; the one who claims “Asia asked for it” because she once filmed a scene in which she French-kissed a dog; the one who says — as if it matters — “I’ve simply never liked her.” (I won’t link to the likes of them here.)

What this tells us about Italian feminism isn’t clear, but it’s certainly ugly.

There’s something under-ripened about the state of feminism in my country. In other countries, to proclaim oneself a feminist is taken to mean that you are a person who defends the rights of women to live as they like, to have equal rights and opportunities, and to be in charge of their sexuality. In Italy, those who call themselves feminists treat what is supposed to be a fundamental component of one’s worldview as a sort of battle between high-school cliques: I will fight for your rights — as long as we’re friends. If a sexual assault victim has been unfriendly, we will side with the next one, the one who answers our phone calls. Our sympathies are determined not by who has suffered but by who has invited us to her dinner parties.

I’ve seen this face of Italian “feminism” before, in other episodes, and it has a genuinely stifling quality. The debate, for instance, over whether surrogacy should stay illegal in Italy — a topic worthy of serious, engaged discussion — long ago devolved into something more like a catfight. In the case of Ms. Argento, there are plenty of real discussions to be had: about the line between a relationship gone wrong and harassment, about the statute of limitations, about power plays and workplace relationships. We are not having those discussions.

Perhaps it has something to do with the broader place of women in Italian public life, where there’s a sense that we have to fight for scraps; there’s room for only one sort of feminism here, and it’s mine (or my friends’). Surely it’s no coincidence that the most significant Italian novelist of the past few years is Elena Ferrante, whose Neapolitan series, as the scholar Tiziana de Rogatis puts it, illustrates “the terrible amalgam of envy and elective recognition which inevitably constitutes the friendship between two women, two subservients in search of their emancipation.”

Or perhaps it has to do with — Italian cliché though it may be — our history with the Mafia. Our attitude toward life mimics the Corleone family’s: Our family, our friends, our clique will always come before abstract concepts of right and wrong. It’s a variation on “the devil you know”: The patriarchy you know will always be more appealing than a triumphant feminism in which none of your acquaintances are involved.

In 1902, an 11-year-old named Maria Goretti, the daughter of a farming family living outside Rome, was threatened with rape by a neighbor with a knife. Rather than submit, she let herself be stabbed to death. The Roman Catholic Church made her a saint. Sometimes it seems she’s the ideal paradigm for Italian feminism today: The only woman everyone here can agree is a victim is the one who got herself killed. The one we do not need to compete with.

Guia Soncini, Op-ed contributor
New York Times

Will Harvey Weinstein’s fall finally reform men? (cont’d)

Several of these men have accepted some degree of responsibility for their behavior. Former President George Bush, now 93 and using a wheelchair, apologized last week after multiple women said he groped them and whispered a crude joke during photo ops. He described it as an “attempt at humor.”

Let’s not forget — let’s not ever forget — Bill Cosby, Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly, three giants of American popular culture who treated women despicably for decades, and paid a price, whether through criminal prosecution, public humiliation, job loss or forking out tens of millions of dollars in hush money. #MeToo, indeed.

This reckoning is all to the good, even if it is far too late. It feels as though a real and lasting transformation may be afoot — until you remember that this isn’t the first time women have sounded the alarm.

Remember Anita Hill, who told a firing line of skeptical senators the story of constant harassment by her boss, Clarence Thomas, more than 25 years ago. The lawmakers, every one of them male, seemed less concerned with the alleged misconduct of a Supreme Court nominee than that a woman would drag such a tawdry subject into the halls of Congress. While Ms. Hill’s brave testimony prompted a sharp rise in sexual-harassment claims, she was vilified in public; nearly twice as many Americans said at the time that they believed now-Justice Thomas’s account of what happened over hers.

Remember former President Bill Clinton, whose popularity endures despite a long string of allegations of sexual misconduct and, in one case, rape — all of which he has denied. Mr. Clinton did eventually admit to the affair with an intern, Monica Lewinsky, that nearly toppled his presidency, but he pointed out that it was not illegal.

Then, of course, there’s the current occupant of the Oval Office, who won the election only weeks after the public heard him brag about grabbing women’s genitalia, and who once said that if his daughter were ever sexually harassed at work, she should go find a new job. That president leads a party intent on passing laws that would re-establish gender norms and hierarchies from the middle of the last century (Defund Planned Parenthood! No abortions after six weeks!) — making it harder for women to attain the social equality and economic independence that would go a long way toward reducing sexual harassment in the workplace.

In other words, even the highest-profile opportunities to change America’s endemic culture of sexual harassment, which is overwhelmingly, though not exclusively, committed by men against women, can somehow be lost or swept away. How do we keep that from happening again?

And how do we ensure that progress filters down to average American workplaces, where sexual harassment occurs all the time but rarely gets media attention? The answer is part cultural, part economic and part legal.

The most conservative estimates say 25 percent of women have experienced sexual harassment at work, although the real number is surely much higher, since only a small fraction of such behavior is ever reported. As many as 90 percent of workers who are harassed never file a formal complaint, according to a 2016 report by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which receives more than 12,000 complaints of sex-based harassment each year.

The reasons for this silence are obvious: Women fear retaliation, indifference or disbelief if they speak up. If it’s hard for rich and famous people, so many of whom kept silent in the face of Mr. Weinstein’s well-known depredations, imagine how much harder it is for someone with no political or economic power. But the Weinstein saga also illustrates what a difference it can make when women join together — and men join with them — to confront harassers openly.

HOW TO CHANGE THE CULTURE The key is to foster work environments where women feel safe and men feel obliged to report sexual harassment. “People need to be afraid not just of doing these things, but also of not doing anything when someone around them does it,” Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook, told The Times’s Nicholas Kristof last week. “If you know something is happening and you fail to take action, whether you are a man or a woman — especially when you are in power — you are responsible, too.”

But speaking up only goes so far if employers don’t make reporting harassment easy or the consequences for harassers swift and clear. Treating sexual harassment seriously is essential, not to protect against liability or to safeguard the bottom line, but because it’s wrong for anyone to have to endure harassment at work. (Though it sure helps when liability and the bottom line are at stake, too.)

Some of the nation’s largest companies are moving in the right direction. For example, McDonald’s, Burger King, Aramark and Walmart have signed on to a program requiring their tomato growers to adhere to a code of conduct that prohibits sexual harassment and assault of farmworkers, and provides a clear system for the growers’ 30,000 workers to file complaints. Fourteen businesses are part of the program; many more should join.

IT’S ABOUT POWER AND MONEY Sexual-harassment culture is tied directly to the economics of the workplace. Since harassment is about power, it’s no surprise that it thrives in industries where women are systematically kept out of powerful roles — and paid less for doing the same work as men. (This may help explain why sexual-harassment cases make up nearly half of all harassment complaints from the private sector, but less than 10 percent of those from employees of the federal government, where women have more opportunities to rise to positions of authority.)

Too often, male harassers use their economic power to silence women, as Mr. Weinstein and Mr. O’Reilly did repeatedly, offering them hefty payments in return for signing nondisclosure agreements. If employers were more responsive and harassment cases were easier to pursue in the courts, there would be fewer of these settlements, which can be good for individual women but allow the predatory behavior to continue unchecked.

One compromise could be to require businesses to report how many sexual-harassment claims they settle every year, or even how many complaints they receive. This would at least give prospective employees a chance to assess how bad the problem is at a given company, and could lead to greater public scrutiny in more extreme cases.

LEGAL BARRIERS The Supreme Court ruled in 1986 that sexual harassment violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits workplace discrimination on the basis of sex, race, religion and other protected classes. Twelve years later, it made employers liable for supervisors’ harassment of workers. But in 2013, the court stepped backward, ruling that employers are liable only for racial or sexual harassment by a supervisor who has the power to fire a worker or prevent his or her promotion. In a 5-to-4 ruling, with only male justices in the majority, the court held that employers are not automatically liable for harassment by the larger number of supervisors who don’t have that power, even if they control all other aspects of a worker’s daily activities.

In her dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said the decision ignored the realities of the modern workplace, and the “particular threatening character” of a supervisor’s power and authority, even one not vested with the power to fire. A worker who confronts a harassing supervisor risks “receiving an undesirable or unsafe work assignment or an unwanted transfer. She may be saddled with an excessive workload or with placement on a shift spanning hours disruptive of her family life.”

Congress could and should overturn that ruling today by passing a law that reinstates the broader and more realistic definition of a supervisor. But good luck with that; Capitol Hill can’t even keep its own house in order. Representative Jackie Speier of California, who said she was sexually assaulted years ago when she was a congressional staff member, told Politico on Thursday that the compliance office tasked with handling harassment complaints is “toothless,” and said that Congress has been “a breeding ground for a hostile work environment for far too long.”

This may turn out to be the year when the tide finally turned on sexual harassment. The elements for a permanent cultural shift are certainly in place. More women have entered the work force, and the pay gap with men is closing, though not fast enough. More women than men are graduating from college; more are earning advanced degrees; and increasing numbers are managers, though the proportions of women still become thinner and thinner the higher in management you look. And, crucially, the internet and social media have opened a door to instant communication and community support that didn’t exist before, helping women feel less isolation and shame about their experiences, and more confident that speaking out will have a positive result.

In the end, though, the most lasting change will have to come from men, who are doing virtually all the sexual harassing. Boys must be raised to understand why that behavior is wrong, teenagers need to be reminded of it and grown men need to pay for it until they get the message.

Editorial Board
New York Times

Will Harvey Weinstein’s Fall Finally Reform Men?

Has America at last reached a turning point on sexual harassment? Watching the events of the past three weeks, one can hope.

In the wake of Harvey Weinstein’s sudden and overdue expulsion from Hollywood for his serial predation, hundreds of long-silent women are calling out powerful, influential men at a remarkable clip and accusing them of sexual misconduct: Roy Price, the head of Amazon Studios; the film director James Toback; the literary critic Leon Wieseltier; the restaurateur and celebrity chef John Besh; and the political commentator Mark Halperin, to name just a few. Read more>>

The failure of Italian feminism

MILAN — AMERICANS and Italians are such similar creatures: We both care about news only if it concerns us. That’s why in Italy there’s no such thing as the Harvey Weinstein scandal; here, it’s the Asia Argento scandal. Either way, it hasn’t made us look good.

“Victim-Blaming,” Vanity Fair proclaimed last week, after Ms. Argento, who says Mr. Weinstein raped her, declared that she was considering leaving Italy because of attacks on her by her compatriots. “Weinstein Accuser Feels ‘Doubly Crucified’ ” read the Associated Press headline. Suddenly we were patriarchal, sexist Italy again. Read more>>

Will Harvey Weinstein’s Fall Finally Reform Men?

Has America at last reached a turning point on sexual harassment? Watching the events of the past three weeks, one can hope.

In the wake of Harvey Weinstein’s sudden and overdue expulsion from Hollywood for his serial predation, hundreds of long-silent women are calling out powerful, influential men at a remarkable clip and accusing them of sexual misconduct: Roy Price, the head of Amazon Studios; the film director James Toback; the literary critic Leon Wieseltier; the restaurateur and celebrity chef John Besh; and the political commentator Mark Halperin, to name just a few.

Several of these men have accepted some degree of responsibility for their behavior. Former President George Bush, now 93 and using a wheelchair, apologized last week after multiple women said he groped them and whispered a crude joke during photo ops. He described it as an “attempt at humor.”

Let’s not forget — let’s not ever forget — Bill Cosby, Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly, three giants of American popular culture who treated women despicably for decades, and paid a price, whether through criminal prosecution, public humiliation, job loss or forking out tens of millions of dollars in hush money. #MeToo, indeed.

This reckoning is all to the good, even if it is far too late. It feels as though a real and lasting transformation may be afoot — until you remember that this isn’t the first time women have sounded the alarm.

Remember Anita Hill, who told a firing line of skeptical senators the story of constant harassment by her boss, Clarence Thomas, more than 25 years ago. The lawmakers, every one of them male, seemed less concerned with the alleged misconduct of a Supreme Court nominee than that a woman would drag such a tawdry subject into the halls of Congress. While Ms. Hill’s brave testimony prompted a sharp rise in sexual-harassment claims, she was vilified in public; nearly twice as many Americans said at the time that they believed now-Justice Thomas’s account of what happened over hers.

Remember former President Bill Clinton, whose popularity endures despite a long string of allegations of sexual misconduct and, in one case, rape — all of which he has denied. Mr. Clinton did eventually admit to the affair with an intern, Monica Lewinsky, that nearly toppled his presidency, but he pointed out that it was not illegal.

Then, of course, there’s the current occupant of the Oval Office, who won the election only weeks after the public heard him brag about grabbing women’s genitalia, and who once said that if his daughter were ever sexually harassed at work, she should go find a new job. That president leads a party intent on passing laws that would re-establish gender norms and hierarchies from the middle of the last century (Defund Planned Parenthood! No abortions after six weeks!) — making it harder for women to attain the social equality and economic independence that would go a long way toward reducing sexual harassment in the workplace.

In other words, even the highest-profile opportunities to change America’s endemic culture of sexual harassment, which is overwhelmingly, though not exclusively, committed by men against women, can somehow be lost or swept away. How do we keep that from happening again?

And how do we ensure that progress filters down to average American workplaces, where sexual harassment occurs all the time but rarely gets media attention? The answer is part cultural, part economic and part legal.

The most conservative estimates say 25 percent of women have experienced sexual harassment at work, although the real number is surely much higher, since only a small fraction of such behavior is ever reported. As many as 90 percent of workers who are harassed never file a formal complaint, according to a 2016 report by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which receives more than 12,000 complaints of sex-based harassment each year.

The reasons for this silence are obvious: Women fear retaliation, indifference or disbelief if they speak up. If it’s hard for rich and famous people, so many of whom kept silent in the face of Mr. Weinstein’s well-known depredations, imagine how much harder it is for someone with no political or economic power. But the Weinstein saga also illustrates what a difference it can make when women join together — and men join with them — to confront harassers openly.

HOW TO CHANGE THE CULTURE The key is to foster work environments where women feel safe and men feel obliged to report sexual harassment. “People need to be afraid not just of doing these things, but also of not doing anything when someone around them does it,” Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook, told The Times’s Nicholas Kristof last week. “If you know something is happening and you fail to take action, whether you are a man or a woman — especially when you are in power — you are responsible, too.”

But speaking up only goes so far if employers don’t make reporting harassment easy or the consequences for harassers swift and clear. Treating sexual harassment seriously is essential, not to protect against liability or to safeguard the bottom line, but because it’s wrong for anyone to have to endure harassment at work. (Though it sure helps when liability and the bottom line are at stake, too.)

Some of the nation’s largest companies are moving in the right direction. For example, McDonald’s, Burger King, Aramark and Walmart have signed on to a program requiring their tomato growers to adhere to a code of conduct that prohibits sexual harassment and assault of farmworkers, and provides a clear system for the growers’ 30,000 workers to file complaints. Fourteen businesses are part of the program; many more should join.

IT’S ABOUT POWER AND MONEY Sexual-harassment culture is tied directly to the economics of the workplace. Since harassment is about power, it’s no surprise that it thrives in industries where women are systematically kept out of powerful roles — and paid less for doing the same work as men. (This may help explain why sexual-harassment cases make up nearly half of all harassment complaints from the private sector, but less than 10 percent of those from employees of the federal government, where women have more opportunities to rise to positions of authority.)

Too often, male harassers use their economic power to silence women, as Mr. Weinstein and Mr. O’Reilly did repeatedly, offering them hefty payments in return for signing nondisclosure agreements. If employers were more responsive and harassment cases were easier to pursue in the courts, there would be fewer of these settlements, which can be good for individual women but allow the predatory behavior to continue unchecked.

One compromise could be to require businesses to report how many sexual-harassment claims they settle every year, or even how many complaints they receive. This would at least give prospective employees a chance to assess how bad the problem is at a given company, and could lead to greater public scrutiny in more extreme cases.

LEGAL BARRIERS The Supreme Court ruled in 1986 that sexual harassment violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits workplace discrimination on the basis of sex, race, religion and other protected classes. Twelve years later, it made employers liable for supervisors’ harassment of workers. But in 2013, the court stepped backward, ruling that employers are liable only for racial or sexual harassment by a supervisor who has the power to fire a worker or prevent his or her promotion. In a 5-to-4 ruling, with only male justices in the majority, the court held that employers are not automatically liable for harassment by the larger number of supervisors who don’t have that power, even if they control all other aspects of a worker’s daily activities.

In her dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said the decision ignored the realities of the modern workplace, and the “particular threatening character” of a supervisor’s power and authority, even one not vested with the power to fire. A worker who confronts a harassing supervisor risks “receiving an undesirable or unsafe work assignment or an unwanted transfer. She may be saddled with an excessive workload or with placement on a shift spanning hours disruptive of her family life.”

Congress could and should overturn that ruling today by passing a law that reinstates the broader and more realistic definition of a supervisor. But good luck with that; Capitol Hill can’t even keep its own house in order. Representative Jackie Speier of California, who said she was sexually assaulted years ago when she was a congressional staff member, told Politico on Thursday that the compliance office tasked with handling harassment complaints is “toothless,” and said that Congress has been “a breeding ground for a hostile work environment for far too long.”

This may turn out to be the year when the tide finally turned on sexual harassment. The elements for a permanent cultural shift are certainly in place. More women have entered the work force, and the pay gap with men is closing, though not fast enough. More women than men are graduating from college; more are earning advanced degrees; and increasing numbers are managers, though the proportions of women still become thinner and thinner the higher in management you look. And, crucially, the internet and social media have opened a door to instant communication and community support that didn’t exist before, helping women feel less isolation and shame about their experiences, and more confident that speaking out will have a positive result.

In the end, though, the most lasting change will have to come from men, who are doing virtually all the sexual harassing. Boys must be raised to understand why that behavior is wrong, teenagers need to be reminded of it and grown men need to pay for it until they get the message.

Opinion: New York Times editorial

Women Accuse Knight Landesman, Art World Mainstay, of Sexual Harassment

Knight Landesman, a longtime publisher of Artforum magazine and a power broker in the art world, resigned on Wednesday afternoon, hours after a lawsuit was filed in New York accusing him of sexually harassing at least nine women in episodes that stretched back almost a decade.

In a prepared statement, the magazine’s three other publishers said that Mr. Landesman had “engaged in unacceptable behavior and caused a hostile work environment.” Read more>>

 

The Megyn Kelly Problem

You know that part in “Jurassic Park” when Dr. Grant and the kids are about to get chomped by velociraptors, but the Tyrannosaurus rex shows up and demolishes the raptors with her superior jaws? And you kind of forgive the T. rex for the first half of the movie when she was insatiably hungry for child meat, because in the end she stuck her neck out, as only a dino could, so our heroes could get away?

That’s how I feel when Megyn Kelly goes in on Fox News and Bill O’Reilly. Except, of course, that Kelly, unlike a fictional dinosaur, has been through some truly horrific sexual violations, including vile and gendered comments from a man who is now the president of the United States, as well as an online silencing campaign that will most likely continue for as long as she refuses to capitulate. (Though, by the same token, that T. rex, as far as we know, has never gone on television and insisted that “Santa just is white.”)

It’s a long, silly way to express the conflict at the heart of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Sometimes the enemy of your enemy is still your enemy. Kelly spent more than a dozen years as part of the Fox News machine, churning out the same brand of soft propaganda that helped lead to the Iraq war, the Tea Party and, eventually, “fake news” and President Trump.

Kelly happily trafficked in racist tropes for profit — black communities have a “thug mentality,” asking repeatedly whether the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown were necessarily related to race — until her own dehumanization at the hands of Roger Ailes, O’Reilly and others became untenable. If you’ve heard the term “white feminism” tossed around your social media feeds, this is a prime example: fighting for freedom and justice as far as the boundaries of your own identity and not beyond.

It’s an unfortunate reality that Kelly’s stature as a right-of-center icon confers a degree of credibility that the Fox News rank and file — and, let’s be honest, the public — withhold from the traditional heralds of the ills of rape, abuse and sexual harassment: feminists. Activists and scholars who devote their lives to the study of gender-based violence and its legislative and social amelioration have been systematically smeared as reactionary liars. America’s traditionalist wing has set a tidy trap: The more you actually know about the way abuse functions, the less seriously you’re taken. So, what do we do with the fact that, as destructive as some of Kelly’s work has been, there are people who listened to her indictment of Ailes who would never have listened to, say, Anita Hill.

When Kelly finds a righteous purpose, she is potent. She found one this week, when — with the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse allegations still at a fevered peak — news broke that O’Reilly had agreed to pay a $32 million settlement to the former Fox News legal analyst Lis Wiehl.

“That is a jaw-dropping figure,” Kelly said Monday on her new NBC morning show. “O. J. Simpson was ordered to pay the Goldman and Brown families $33.5 million for the murders of Ron and Nicole. What on earth would justify that amount? What awfulness went on?”

In a profoundly hostile and disturbing interview about the settlement, O’Reilly told The New York Times that he had been the subject of no formal complaints to human resources in 43 years. Kelly dunked on that one, too: “O’Reilly’s suggestion that no one ever complained about his behavior was false. I know because I complained.”

She also released an email that she sent to Fox executives in 2016, when O’Reilly dismissed sexual harassment allegations on air. “Perhaps he didn’t realize the kind of message his criticism sends to young women across this country about how men continue to view the issue of speaking out about sexual harassment,” Kelly wrote.

It’s a phrase that wouldn’t have been out of place in Bitch or Bust or Jezebel. But what about the kind of message American conservatism has been sending to young women — particularly women who are not wealthy and white and conventionally attractive and heterosexual — for generations?

Kelly crystallizes an uncomfortable tension that’s risen to the fore since the Weinstein story hit: What happens when #MeToo meets “I’m not a feminist, but”? It goes without saying that men across the political spectrum routinely victimize the women in their lives. It goes without saying because feminists have already been saying it for years. Yet, in the flood of anger and catharsis this past week, I’ve seen multiple eloquent and heartbreaking accounts of rape and abuse from conservative women, who are careful to specify that they are not like those other women, those radicals, those tedious, troublesome feminists. That’s fine. Whether you like us or not, we carved out this space for you.

Conservative women, anti-feminist women, apolitical women, it is simply a fact: You are participating in feminism just by being alive. In the most passive sense, you are beneficiaries. You can vote, you can work, you can have your own bank account, you can bring a sexual harassment claim against someone at your place of employment, you can prosecute your husband for rape, you can get an abortion. These rights weren’t just won by the women’s movement of the past; they are protected by the feminist movement of today — and they are under constant attack by the Republican Party, particularly the current administration.

But in a more active sense, by participating in #MeToo, by fighting back against harassment, by telling your story, you are standing up for the idea that women are autonomous human beings who are preyed upon and subordinated by men. Sorry, but that’s feminism. We’ll be here when you’re ready.

Lindy West, contributing op-ed writer
New York Times

Cynthia Dill: Sexual harassment is about power, which women still lack

The power to work free of such constraints is integral to freedom.

The challenge for men in power is to risk the idea that power may not be a zero-sum game. Given the chance women might make a bigger pie rather than cut smaller slices.

Read more>>

Fidelity jettisons two senior executives amid sexual harassment complaints

Fidelity Investments, one of the world’s largest investment firms, has pushed out two high-level executives over the past few weeks amid sexual harassment complaints, according to two people familiar with the allegations.

Former portfolio manager C. Robert Chow resigned earlier this month and Gavin Baker, a prominent tech fund manager, was fired by the company in September, according to the people, who were not authorized to speak publicly about the cases. Chow and Baker could not be immediately reached for comment. Their dismissals were first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

Fidelity declined to comment on specific employees, but spokesman Vincent Loporchio said in a statement that its policies “prohibit harassment in any form. When allegations of these sorts are brought to our attention, we investigate them immediately and take prompt and appropriate action. We simply will not, and do not, tolerate this type of behavior.” Fidelity has also hired an outside consultant to review employee behavior in its stock-picking unit, according to one of the people familiar with the allegations.

Chow was accused of making inappropriate sexual comments to colleagues and Baker allegedly harassed a 26-year-old employee. Both worked in the company’s powerful stock-picking division. An unnamed spokesman for Baker told the Wall Street Journal that he “strenuously” denies the allegations.
The allegations come amid heightened sensitivity to sexual harassment complaints in corporate America. Movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was recently fired as the head of his company after reports emerged that he had harassed dozens of women over decades. And on Friday, the New York Times reported that former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly secretly settled a sexual harassment allegation with a network contributor for $32 million.

Wall Street, meanwhile, has long fought its reputation as a place where women and minorities struggle to succeed. None of the country’s leading publicly-traded banks — JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup or Bank of America — have ever been led by a woman. Last year, Bank of America was accused of running a “bros club” that underpaid female executives. Women account for just 2 percent of financial industry chief executives, according to research by Catalyst, a nonprofit group. They hold about 29 percent of executive or senior-level positions in the industry.

Fidelity operates in the asset management world where such concerns have also lingered. Women and minorities are locked out of some of sector’s most lucrative positions, managing just 1.1 percent of the $71.4 trillion of the industry’s assets, according to a study commissioned by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Bella Research Group earlier this year.
Fidelity is somewhat unusual in the financial world. It is led by a woman, Abigail P. Johnson, who has been chairman and chief executive since 2014. Johnson’s grandfather started the firm, and she owns a significant share of the privately-held company, according to Forbes, which estimates her net worth at more than $17 billion.

Johnson is considered one of the most powerful women in finance from her perch at Fidelity, which has more than $6 trillion in assets, including the retirement accounts of millions of Americans. It also has several women in senior leadership positions, including Kathleen Murphy, the president of personal investing, which controls more than $2 trillion in customer assets.

The company held an emergency meeting last week in the wake of dismissals of the two executives, according to a personal familiar with the allegations. Brian Hogan, president of Fidelity’s stock-picking division, stressed the company’s intolerance of inappropriate workplace conduct during that meeting, the person said.

“Fidelity remains committed to providing all associates with an outstanding work environment and we will always work hard to ensure that we take swift and appropriate action when an individual violates our policies, and more importantly, our values,” the company’s statement said.

By Renae Merle October 22 at 3:44 PM
Washington Post

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