At this point, just about everyone with an Internet connection knows that Paula Deen isn’t having a very good summer. But while some people have criticized her and others have defended her and the rest of us simply watch the tennis ball go back and forth, one important thing seems to have been overlooked: So far the conversation has focused almost exclusively around Deen’s racism, but the complaint filed against her in the original lawsuit focuses just as much on sexism.
Lisa T. Jackson, the woman who first filed a suit against Deen and brought all this to the world’s attention, claims that not only were the African-American employees mistreated, but the women working at Deen’s restaurants had to deal with outrageous sexual harassment, not to mention the fact that the few women in management positions were paid a hell of a lot less than their male counterparts.
Of course, none of this has been proven, but if even half the accusations are true, it’s still pretty revolting. As just a small sample, Jackson alleges that:
- After her divorce, Jackson no longer received bonus payments because the company CPA had religious objections to “the sin of divorce”
- Deen’s brother Buddy asked Jackson to “bring pictures of herself when she was young for him to view”
- Jackson was paid less than male employees, even those who ranked below her, and when she asked about a raise, she was told that the General Manager “would have a heart attack if he knew you were being paid this much"
- And while this and other outrageous, sexist bullshit was going on, Paula Deen and the entire upper management at the company knew about it and didn’t care. In fact, Deen once used a company meeting to lecture the (very few) female managers about being team players
So why isn’t all this getting any attention?
Part of it may be that Deen herself isn’t as directly involved in a lot of these claims, though, in my opinion, allowing such behavior to happen is basically giving it your shiny seal of approval. Or maybe it's just that people have some hazy idea that women can’t be sexist.
That last one at least, is bullshit. Sadly, women can be sexist against their own kind — after all, just look at the victim-blaming stats. Anyone can be sexist. Sure, maybe, just maybe, none of it’s true. But letting allegations like this go unnoticed is what makes people think they can get away with this type of horribleness in the first place. So I don’t care that Anne Rice thinks we’re forming a “lynch mob” — someone needs to explain themselves. And until then, I am so not letting this one go.