There is most certainly power in numbers. This fact was curtly evinced this week by the revelations of Bill O'Reilly's multiple sexual harassment cases. Lisa Bloom, a civil rights lawyer, said this week that there are, “not one, not two, not three, not four, not five but six," alleged sexual harassment cases against Bill O'Reilly.
And she, on behalf of her client Dr. Wendy Walsh, is calling for an independent investigation into the practices that allowed such cases to accumulate unnoticed over time.
Dr. Wendy Walsh is a psychologist who worked on O'Reilly's show “The O'Reilly Factor" as an expert on a 2013 segment called “Are We Crazy."
Walsh had aspirations of a more frequent contribution to FOX - the network the show is hosted on - and voiced these goals to O'Reilly. According to Walsh, the show host encouraged the possibility of an advancement in her career at a dinner one evening. When the dinner ended, Walsh said O'Reilly asked her back to his hotel suite. Upon her refusal, he turned “hostile," she said, and told her she could forget any advice he had given her. In short, he would not be aiding her with her career.
O'Reilly has been suffering an onslaught of bad publicity and an exodus of advertisers since this New York Times report was published last week, explicating the long history of sexual harassment throughout his career, and the pay-off culture rampant within FOX's ranks. In fact, just last year Roger Ailes, former CEO of the network, was fired for the alleged sexual assault against dozens of women. “The culture still lives on," says Bloom, even in the wake of his departure and the scandal attached. Thus, the reason she is calling for an indecent investigation.
Below, SWAAY talks to Bloom about her involvement in the case and her opinion about the sexual harassment O'Reilly has allegedly been committing for many years.
1. Tell us a little about your career - why law?
I've always had a big mouth and a passion to right social justice wrongs. In college I was national debating champion. What else was I going to do?
2. How was it coming up through the legal ranks as a woman? Did you encounter any difficulties along the way?
Of course. The usual gamut of old guys underestimating my intelligence, arrogant superiors sexually harassing me, a partner once saying to an old male client I was meeting with, "would you rather have a male attorney?" (The client said he was happy with me, thank you very much, and later I took the partner aside and told him that wasn't cool.)
Lisa Bloom(L) and Wendy Walsh(R). Photo courtesy of NY Daily NewsI complained about the sexual harassment each time of the three times I experienced it, either directly to the inappropriate [point of contact] or to Human Resources, and it always got resolved to my satisfaction. I insisted on it. I was nervous like anyone else. But I could not bear to think that if I did not complain, these guys would do it to other women who would be even more afraid than I was.
3. When and why did you decide to start your own firm?
After eight years hosting my own show on Court TV (2001-2009), I was ready to return to my hometown of Los Angeles, write books and start my own firm. Everywhere I've ever worked I thought I could manage the place better than the bosses were managing it. Now was my chance to see if that was true. I wanted to fight for justice for people and causes I believe in. Luckily my husband is a skilled, successful entrepreneur so he has always advised on the business side: when to hire, when to fire, when to take a new lease for a bigger office. I oversee the ten lawyers we have now, decide which cases to take, handle the big ones myself, and all the media in our many high profile cases, because that's tricky, and fun for me. It works for us.
"This network is the Bill Cosby of corporate America."
4. You've had a pretty lucrative career - what's your recipe for success?
5. You list Bill O'Reilly as a TV personality that has interviewed you - how is it now representing someone in a case against him?
Delightful. He is a despicable human being who has been exceedingly rude to me, and who has hurt many women. He deserves everything he is getting, from the New York Times exposing his many settlements, to my client Dr. Wendy Walsh and me speaking out, to advertisers fleeing. Karma's a bitch, Bill.
6. Have you dealt with sexual harassment cases in the past?
Yes, I've been doing discrimination and harassment cases for thirty years. I currently handle many sexual harassment cases. My law firm's core work is civil rights work: gender, race, LGBTQ rights, disability, you name it, we fight for it.
7. When did you and Ms. Walsh meet?
We both have appeared frequently on CNN and HLN, and I think we met there, years ago. We became friends. I was pleased to attend a charity event where she was honored for her domestic violence work, and she came as my date to an Emmy awards gala. We both have been single moms and believe in empowering women. So when a NY Times reporter asked if she'd tell her story, I encouraged her to do it, and promised I'd stand by her as she did. I couldn't be prouder of how she's handled herself.
8. Does Fox's ineptitude dealing with these cases suitably reflect the entertainment industry's stance on sexual harassment as a whole?
Sexual harassment is rampant in the entertainment industry, but Fox News is the worst I am aware of. Dozens and dozens of women, tens of millions in payouts, and no end in sight: until we make it end.
9. You said in a recent press conference that FOX believes it can simply pay off woman to keep harassers in their jobs - are other corporations indulging in this behavior?
Many companies pay sexual harassment settlements -- I've negotiated many, nothing wrong with that outcome. But nearly every company will fire a man who continues to sexually harass women after the first incident. There's just too much liability to keep him on.
10. How do the President's comments on O'Reilly's innocence affect your case?
Trump did not say he disbelieved the allegations -- he said that O'Reilly did nothing wrong. I think that was honest. Trump does not think sexual harassment is wrong. How disgusting that this man is President, that he stands for his fellow alleged harasser, instead of for the women of America. Trump is the most overtly misogynist president in my lifetime, maybe in all of US history. Hold on to those pussy hats, ladies. We're going to need them.
"I don't think Bill did anything wrong." -Donald Trump
11. What, in your opinion, should happen to O'Reilly and how can this case be used to set a precedent for workplace sexual harassment cases in the future?
He should be fired. That may happen. The women who complained and were then driven out should be brought back, and Fox News should apologize to all of them. That will never happen
If this powerful moneymaker is toppled because of his treatment of women, it will send a powerful message that women's rights matter. Stay tuned.
"There are no good men out there," yet another woman my age declared. At 50, I was freshly divorced after two decades of marriage and motherhood. My unhappy marriage had shattered my faith in men and romantic relationships. Based on my ex-husband's opinion of my sexual appeal, I was afraid my naked body would cause future lovers to run screaming from the room. Rather gleefully, I announced to my girlfriends that I was done with men, and sex, forever.
For the first year, I got tangled in my sheets alone every night, overjoyed to have the bed and my body to myself. I felt liberated by divorce—free to be me, skip showering, and make dinner for one. But it bothered me when women decried the scarcity of men, because I'd known so many good ones—college boyfriends, my brother, my best friend from business school, etc. The first of many naked truths gradually crept up on me: I was not going to find my juju again through self-help and yoga. The feminist in me didn't want to admit it, but going for too long without men was akin to starvation.
I didn't want another husband. But I needed men, a lot of them.
The universe signaled its approval by sending Mr. Blue Eyes to me at an airport. He was 29 and perhaps the sexiest man I'd ever kissed. Being with him convinced me, pretty decisively, that men were going to heal me, even though men had destroyed me many times before. I became the female incarnation of a divorced, clichéd older man: I bought a sports car, revamped my wardrobe, and took younger lovers. "I want five boyfriends," I told my best friend KC after that first tryst ended. "Sweet, cute, smart, nice. Enough that I won't get too attached to one." My message from the frontlines of divorce at 50 is that to restore your confidence as a woman, especially in the wake of a crushing breakup, try dating outside your comfort zone, expanding your dating pool to include partners you might never have considered before. It may not be the recipe for a lasting union, but in terms of rebuilding your self-esteem, it can work wonders.
The first thing I noticed—and liked—about dating younger men is that they didn't want to marry me or make babies with me. And I didn't want that either. Frankly, I didn't even want them to spend the night. Since I'd been 11, I'd been taught to seek out and value men who wanted commitment. To my surprise, I found it refreshing, even more authentic, to be valued not for my potential as a mate, but instead for my body, intelligence, life-experience and sexuality.
And the sex! I quickly realized that—warning, blanket stereotype coming—men under 40 are more straightforward and adventurous than older men, maybe since they were raised with the Internet. You hear so often about the scourge of crude, sexist online pornography; and I agree that the depersonalization of women as sexual playthings is deeply destructive to all genders. However, from sexting to foreplay, I found younger men uniquely enthusiastic about getting naked and enjoying sex. Every younger man found my most erotic zones faster than any man my age ever had, with a lack of hesitation men over 50 seemed unable to fathom.
Also, about my big fear of getting naked in front of a younger man? Completely unfounded. I started to shake when Airport Boy took off my sundress in our hotel room. Had he ever seen a woman my age nude? How could I stand to be skin-to-skin with a body far more perfect than mine? I had given birth to eight-pound, full-fucking-term babies. I'd nursed them, too, and at times by breasts looked (from my view at least) like wet paper towels. "You have a spectacular body," he told me instead, running his hand over the cellulite on my stomach that I despised. That night I learned that younger men who seek older women accept our physical flaws—they don't expect perfection in someone 20 years their senior. These men taught me to see my body through a positive, decidedly male lens, to focus on the pretty parts (and we all have them) rather than the flaws that we all have too, whether you're 19, 29 or 59.
I even found the pillow talk lighter, easier and more intellectually stimulating, because a younger man's world view differs so vastly from the pressures of my 20-something kids, annual colonoscopies, 401K balance and mortgage payments. They have simple financial problems, like "Can I borrow a few quarters for the parking meter outside?" or "Do you have any advice on consolidating my student loans?"
Everything feels simpler with younger men. Men under 40 seem less threatened by assertive women; they grew up with them. They like cheap beer instead of expensive wine. They don't snore (as much). Leftovers a 55-year-old would scoff at look good to them. Their erections NEVER last more than four hours. Their hard-ons end the old-fashioned way and 45 minutes later they are ready for more.
But what I enjoy most about younger men is not the sex, or the cliché that they make me feel young again—because they don't. Younger men make me feel old, and to my delight, I like that. I feel valuable around younger men, precisely because I am wiser and more experienced in life, love and between the sheets.
I know I'll never end up with one for good. The naked truth is we don't have enough in common to last. One recently put it exactly right when he told me, "I love this, but there's always gonna be a glass ceiling between us." That lack of permanence, the improbability of commitment and "forever," doesn't mean I can't pick up a tip or two about self-esteem, and enjoy the magic of human connection with younger men. And vice versa. The experience can enrich us both, making us better partners for people our own ages down the road.
*My viewpoint is from the perspective of a heterosexual woman, because I am one. But change the gender identification and/or sexual orientation to whatever works for you and let me know if the same advice holds true. Thank you.