In the aftermath of Bill O'Reilly's removal from Fox News following the disclosure of lawsuits of harassment against him as well, as internal investigations from the network that found more allegations, the topic of sexual harassment at Fox News Network is on many people's minds. Bustle has reached out to Fox News for comment. Several former employees have opened up about the culture they experienced, but others denied it was an issue for them. Jake Tapper on Thursday asked Sarah Palin if she ever experienced harassment while at Fox, working as a contributor, and she revealed a troublesome attitude toward harassment in the workplace.
Palin responded, "I wouldn't put up with anything that would be perceived as intimidating or harassing." Her statement strangely made it seem like harassment is something women can choose to experience. Incredibly, she went on, saying:
If a woman believes that she is being intimidated and harassed, she needs to stand up and do something about it, not stick around for a paycheck for years and years and years, and then after the fact complain about what she went through.
As a strong woman, I say, you know, we should be — feel more empowered than that and we should, you know, take a stand and get out of the place or, you know, blow the whistle on whoever is the perpetrator doing the bad stuff so that the culture will change.
Maybe Palin missed the part where women did blow the whistle about O'Reilly, and others accused Roger Ailes of similar conduct, and yet the culture did not change. When she says that women should "not stick around for a paycheck," she seems to be forgetting that those paychecks are very likely someone's rent for the month.
Yes, there is a problem when there is a culture in which women feel like they have to hide their harassment, but that culture largely exists because they are afraid that they won't be believed or that they'll lose their job, which they may not be able to afford. Palin sure sounds like she's casting doubt about the truthfulness of the women who stepped up to speak out about O'Reilly just because they waited to do it, but it's a lot more complicated than that.
She did concede that no woman should have to experience harassment in the workplace and that the culture at Fox has to change, but her other thoughts on the issue totally go against this. It seems like the only option for a woman who experiences harassment in Palin's eyes is to speak up about it, and if you don't see changes, to find a new job.
However, no one should have to switch a job because her co-worker or boss is being inappropriate. It's not on women to protect themselves from harassment. It's up to the company to recognize an inappropriate culture and reprimand the perpetrator, making it clear that the behavior will not be tolerated. It's also up to men to just not be inappropriate with colleagues.