Friday, May 19, 2017

Justice?

By Rupande Mehta 
Source: Twitter


Last morning I woke up to the news that Roger Ailes the ex-CEO of Fox News was dead. My first response: good riddance. Earth is better off without people such as him.

Now I know the passing of any person is a sad event but Ailes was a monster. Not only was he a ruthless businessman, who in all fairness did a very good job making Fox what it is, but also a very controversial figure who forwards the end of his life was dogged by accusations of sexual harassment. He was a predator who ruled Fox with an iron fist with little regard for fairness or equality. The culture he created at Fox screams of patriarchy, harassment, racism and so much more. People like Bill O'Reilly were encouraged by him and his disgusting behavior to call women names, objectify them and view them as mere pieces of their lust instead of human beings capable of performing a job.

Gretchen Carlson; after many years of sexual harassment spoke up against Ailes and won a lawsuit to the tune of $20 million opening up the can of worms that Fox News was. She was forced to listen to that disgusting man tell her to sleep with him and perform other sexual acts in return for a promotion or more visibility. Seeing her courage, many more women, including the star Megyn Kelly, came out and confessed to the rampant behavior of harassment purported by Ailes and his cronies.

For me the legacy of Ailes is that he was a white man who while doing some good work destroyed a lot of lives. The legacy he left behind continues  to harass women no matter what the Murdochs claim to have cleaned up after thorough investigations and firing of O'Reilly. Cultures such as the one enhanced by Ailes do not dissipate over night and in some form can never be eliminated. Every woman has had some experience with a boss/colleague/superior making a comment that has made us uncomfortable. Someone once told a group of us (all women) sitting in a conference room, "I go home and play with my kids. Then I play with my wife." Why we needed to know such disgusting details, I don't know. But this someone always spoke about his personal life only in the presence of women; never when men were present. And women who were his junior. The consequences otherwise could be serious and jeopardize his career. And this someone, was a white male.

Ailes was a horrible man who terrorized women, demanded sexual favors and grew a culture where harassing women every second of every day was a routine part of his life. He considered himself above the law - thought being white would save him everyday and from everything - not even once pausing to consider that a plain woman like Carlson could bring about his downfall. The man who made many wise moves in business underestimated the power of a woman. For that I am glad but I am also happy that Mother Earth is lightened by the load of such a perverse man. He is gone and I hope all the women he harassed can find their peace in his aftermath.
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