Who they protect, who they let go

“Soon after he started he was quoted as saying women aren’t capable of writing cover stories. Facing considerable and deserved backlash, he then made a big show of hiring women, many of whom seem happy. I notice many of them tweet his praises. But since he’s taken the helm there’s a wake of women who are no longer there who have signed NDAs. Just last week a woman I once worked with at a different publication was added to that list, and the details I know show me that the men in charge will do everything in their power to save their own hides, usually at the expense of the women they claim to champion.” — Jennifer Barnett, former managing editor at Atlantic, on the current editor in chief, as well as the predecessor she worked under.

Particularly the predecessor: “I left because I blew the whistle on my boss for doing something unethical then abusing the staff and undermining the editorial process during which time I was assured he would be fired but instead he was promoted and after threatening me privately in his office, he marginalized me to the point of being completely invisible.” Barnett’s career ended at 44; her boss, James Bennett, went on to run the NYT, resigned after the Tom Cotton mess and then wound up as guest editor at The Economist for a year. “Why does it matter? Because the same men who continually fuck up are still in charge of the media. They shape the world. If you don’t think that’s true, take a look at the coverage of Hillary Clinton during my former boss’s tenure at the paper of record leading up to the 2016 election. Despite even major public failings, they keep coming back because they work behind the scenes to protect themselves and each other to stay in power and preserve the status quo.”

It’s a depressingly familiar story about men who make the company into a boys’ club, treat women like crap, promote buddies and exclude women from key decisions and meetings. And it’s known, but he sticks around, and he when does go, it’s to the New York Times and then to The Economist. He’s got the connections with enough key men that the glass floor kicks in and stops them falling: “not only are these guys shitty at their jobs, they keep each other and themselves in power so they can continue to be shitty at their jobs.”

It’s depressing how strong that glass floor is. Pixar kicked out John Lasseter over sexual harassment allegations; a year later, he became head of Skydance Animation (the harassment thing? He’s done a lot of work, it’s all behind him, honest!) Bill O’Reilly got a new contract at Fox right after a $32 million harassment-suit settlement. The Washington Football Team paid $1.6 million to settle one woman’s allegations against owner Daniel Snyder. No matter how big the payout or how often it happens, the people in charge (Snyder does have business partners) would sooner pay millions to preserve the status quo and keep the guys in the in-crowd in power (much as cities shell out millions for police misconduct rather than change the way policing is done). And if someone does suffer for their actions, even if it’s only a blow to their reputation, we’re supposed to show “himpathy” and let his life get back to normal fast (not that women can’t be harassers).

The victims who quit their jobs over harassment or sexist bosses? Or get fired for making a complaint? The people who defend “dude process” never care about them. No concerns about how they deserve to get back the normal they had before they were driven out. No sympathy for them. And as long as businesses and organizations protect the harassers, it’s not going to change.

And people wonder why some women are pissed.


Filed under economics, Politics, Undead sexist cliches

6 responses to “Who they protect, who they let go

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