And with wrath did the Lord smite the philistine Bill O’Reilly.
Of course, this assumes God is a man because if God was a woman, O’Reilly and his ilk would have been long gone generations ago.
Some, but not all, of the older generations of men might be feeling a tad sorry for dear old Bill, but women across the generations will not.
Old Bill harassed, verbally abused and sexually molested women for decades with the blessing of his employer, Fox News. Over the years, up and coming young women who objected to his advances or abuse, in many instances, lost their jobs and/or had their careers ruined before those careers could take off.
However, with the advance of technology, it was no longer a “he said, she said” scenario because some women managed to get recorded evidence of the abuse and consequently, if nothing else, got million-dollar settlements. But money doesn’t take away the sting of watching your dreams of a career turn into a nightmare of disappointment.
O’Reilly was an icon of the old bad boys’ era. Decades back, when women burned their bras, the O’Reillys of the world didn’t get the message — they just wanted to see the bare boobs.
When women were trying to climb the corporate ladder and shatter the glass ceiling, the O’Reillys of the world were handing them bottles of Windex and a cloth, all the while looking up their skirts.
There are very few women who have worked outside the home who at some time or other during their careers didn’t feel the anger and pain of the injustice of a male-dominated workplace and the continuing insult of doing equal work for lesser pay. So, the public firing of O’Reilly was a symbolic reckoning for the sins of yesteryear and today.
I didn’t think the time would ever come when a rich and powerful man would be held to account for his inappropriate behaviour. I recall being aghast when several women stepped forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against then-presidential candidate Bill Clinton.
All of them were publicly humiliated and had their reputations destroyed as unfounded allegations about their pasts were printed in newspapers across the nation. (I have never been able to forgive Hillary Clinton for aiding and abetting her dear old Bill in this carnage.)
Then along came “I did not have sex with that woman” Monica Lewinsky, who was tagged as an attention seeking liar. But as in the case of a few of O’Reilly’s accusers, Monica had proof. He was the liar, not she. What good did it do? Clinton was a charismatic and powerful man, and while his life (and presidency) went on, hers was pretty much destroyed.
Most recently was billionaire presidential candidate Donald Trump who, when several women stepped forward with allegations of his sexual misconduct, called them liars and gold-diggers and threatened to bury them in the courts.
Then when the audio tape came to light where he said you could grab women’s genitalia and do whatever you wanted do to them if you were rich and powerful, it was written off as “locker room talk” and “boys will be boys.”
Golly shucks, he didn’t mean it and it was a long time ago. What happened to him? He became president of the United States. However, Trump did take a break from his warmongering to display his continued misogynist leanings when he tweeted his support of O’Reilly. Who knows, maybe O’Reilly will end up on the White House payroll.
Let’s be clear that Fox News did not fire Bill O’Reilly for his conduct, past or present. The Fox organization was notorious for its abusive culture and several earlier accusers were quietly paid off and sent into the hinterland. (I won’t fault the women who settled because they knew they could never afford the costs of a David vs. Goliath lawsuit.)
Bill O’Reilly was a rich and powerful man and a good earner for the network. But if it wasn’t for his abusive conduct, why did they toss their lead talk show host to the wolves? It’s because corporations withdrew their advertising sponsorship of his show.
Why did corporations withdraw their advertising? Because women are consumers and many women would boycott their products and corporate profits would go down. And shareholders were unhappy about paying out millions of dollars in harassment claims. Yes, it seemed like the network anchor was keeping the corporate ship from moving forward to the pot of gold.
This was not the right reason to axe O’Reilly, but if it was the only way to be rid of him, then so be it. It sent the message to other “good old bad boys” that the “old good days” are over: if O’Reilly can bite the dust, so can they. It also sends a message to women that we do have clout and it should be used judiciously to the betterment of all women.
I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that not all of the old boys were bad boys. In fact, there were and are a lot of very good men who are supportive, fair and respectful of women in their working sphere.
What is even more heartening is the knowledge that a great number of young men see and treat their female counterparts as equals. Yes, in at least this realm, the world is becoming a better place.
Goodbye Bill O’Reilly. Enjoy Jurassic Park.