Selma Blair: ‘I’ll lose everything, I’ll go to court’

Selma Blair maintained asking herself why she didnt only hit James Toback and run out of the room. A leading voice in exposing Hollywood talks single parenthood, stray dogs and how speaking out helped her. By Sophie Heawood

Halfway through our interview, Selma Blair’s one-eyed dog Buster climbs on to the restaurant table at the Chateau Marmont in LA and blithely devour an entire plate of leafy greens. Strangers are staring. I’m gazing.” Are you disgusted that I’m letting my puppy do this ?” Selma asks, her face serious, her tone as drily hilarious as it has been for the past hour, even when discussing the state of Hollywood for women and her fears that she’ll never run again. In fact, I’m just astounded that, here in Hollywood, even rescue mutts with part of their face missing seem to enjoy rocket salad with a blue cheese dressing.” I wonder if it’s possible to overdose on arugula ?” she believes aloud.” We’ll see when the dog dies tonight .”

Blair made her name with Cruel Intentions , a 1999 mean-teen remaking of Dangerous Liaisons , and has since acted in Legally Blonde , the Hellboy films directed by Guillermo del Toro and in the US remake of Kath& Kim , where she played the hysterically funny and spoiled daughter. More recently she played Kris Jenner in an episode of American Crime Story. Now she’s in a comedy-ish horror film called Mom and Dad , which isn’t going down too well in America, what with its theme of mothers overtaken by the urge to murder their own children, though Blair’s performance has been praised by the Hollywood Reporter , which describes her as a” chronically underused talent “. Nicolas Cage plays her husband, and they expend half the movie trying to end their two children with an smorgasbord of homemade weaponry.

” I happen to love it ,” she acknowledges,” because I had such a good time on it, giggling. It was funny to me. Isn’t that terrible? I can’t bear horror movies usually- my mama took me to consider American Werewolf in London as a kid and I couldn’t be alone for two years after that , not even to tie my shoelace. So I would have said a movie like this doesn’t help anybody, we have enough problems with killing. But then there was something so freshening to me about saying, aaaah, fuck it all! And the premise is so much more horrible than the movie itself .”

Her real son Arthur came out to the location and played with her son from the movie.” He was actually taken with Zach[ her son in the film, Zachary Arthur ], he was like:’ I finally have a brother !’ I was like:’ Er , not real, and I’m trying to kill him ?’ He hasn’t seen the film, but when he misbehaves I’ll indicate him .” Also came to see you soon is a remake of Heathers , in which it’s not the traditionally beautiful girls who run the school at all, but the outsiders who’ve taken over. Blair, who rose to reputation as part of the young Hollywood of the original Heathers generation, is now 45 years old, and plays” a diabolical stepmother who turns out to be the only sane person in it, because she’s the one who devoted zero fucks and didn’t have a conscience to begin with “.

Ive
‘ I’ve been in love, I’ve been in lust, I’ve been crazy about someone ‘: Selma wears jacket by Coach 1941 x Keith Haring, dress and T-shirt both by Coach 1941, and shoes by Christian Louboutin. Photo: Dylan Coulter for the Observer

Blair grew up in Michigan, one of four sisters in a Jewish family. Her parents were both lawyers- her mom a magistrate- and they sent her to Cranbrook Kingswood, a private school that Blair speaks about with great affection. Yoko Ono was a guest; Keith Haring designed their yearbooks, and Blair still has her best friend from there because, apparently:” It wasn’t cliquey, there were no mean daughters. It’s still one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen .” She remembers the glamour of her mom power-dressing in Ungaro suits, with” the looks of Sofia Loren”, and also the formalities.” She had us all by C-Section at 8.45 am on a Friday so she could be back to run by Monday .”

Blair began acting at school and, after encouragement from a teacher and various Tv and cinema parts, her breakout role was in Cruel Intentions , a film she now describes as” pioneering for teens. It was the first time two daughters kissed onscreen in such a mainstream movie .” She was actually 25, but playing a 14 -year-old,” because this was before HD so you could still seem somewhat young on screen “.

Yet her early 20 s in Hollywood were not easy. In the wake of the accusations against Harvey Weinstein, Blair spoke to Vanity Fair alongside Rachel McAdams about another big Hollywood figure, the director James Toback. She was told he wanted a meeting with her, but then, like Weinstein, he insisted the session be conducted in his hotel room, where he became manipulative, trying to convince her he could only fully coach her as relevant actors if he saw how she used her naked body, and then trying to block her from leaving the room until he ejaculated on her because he” required his release “.

At the time Blair was estranged from her parent after her parents’ divorce, and she says Toback said he could have him killed, because “hes working with” contract killers. She says Toback also threatened Blair’s own life. She was scared and felt it was safer to go along with his sex demands.

” I said recently that once I had said it, I let it go altogether. But I didn’t let it go wholly. I let go of the dishonor. And I was ashamed for being a part of it, like how could I not hit him over the head and run out of the room? But I could let that go when other women told their tale to me. I supposed, well, this was a natural reaction for that time .”

Cruel
‘ Cruel Intentions was pioneering for teens. It was the first time two girls kissed in such a mainstream movie ‘: Selma wears dress by Erdem. Photograph: Dylan Coulter for the Observer

At first, she says, she was too frightened he would sue her.” So we women assembled behind the scenes on Twitter and I was saying in DMs[ direct messages ], go to this reporter, go to this reporter. But I was still afraid because I was the only one who was somewhat known, so I thought this is all gonna be on me, this lawsuit. I won’t be able to set my child through school. Then it turned out there were 38 other women accusing him, and he called them cunts and cocksuckers and liars, so I guessed, OK, I’ll lose everything, I’ll go to court. I will be on the right side of history. Now he’s up to 396 women, and I’m sure there are thousands. I also know plenty who haven’t come out, because what he did to them was so horrifying. He has yet to speak again of it .”

So what happens next? Why isn’t he in jail?” Oh, he gets to only hide. I filed a police report, but there is a statute of limitations. He won’t work again, but he’ll never genuinely be held accountable, even though he should be in a mental hospital and a jail .”

Blair is now the single motherof six-year-old Arthur, her son with her ex-boyfriend Jason Bleick, a fashion designer. She texts her babysitter during our lunch, hoping that her beloved boy can join her here at Chateau Marmont, where the staff like her so much that she has a much sought after key to the locked swimming pool.” It’s my only Hollywood perk, literally my only one after 20 years. They treat Arthur like the Prince of the Chateau .”

She and her son love animals and she goes riding at 6am as often as she can. She scrolls through her telephone to find me a picture of their pony, grumbling:” Why am I doing this to you? Why am I forcing this picture on you ?” She never planned to get pregnant, and wasn’t married.” But my body felt good and I felt happy. And I’m not necessarily, historically, engineered that route ,” she adds, meaning she has been prone to melancholy all her life.” So I was, like, maybe it’ll change me forever !” And has it?” You know what’s weird ?” she asks.” Your DNA changes and you get your child’s DNA inside you, because cells from the foetus cross the placenta. And because some of your child’s DNA is the other person’s, you get their DNA, too .”

Having bonded over the fact that we are both single mothers of unplanned six-year-olds, we now sit and think about our bodies containing parts of our ex-boyfriends eternally. There is a loaded silence. Blair had a bad, induced labour and a rough time afterwards , not sleeping, absence supporting. One friend would come and cook for her on Sundays, but otherwise she thinks she became malnourished.( All new moms talk about the lack of sleep. Single mothers talk about the lack of food .) Yet she managed to breastfeed not for months but for years,” because I’ve always been someone that could construct milk, ever since I was seven years old. Never had breasts, always had milk !”

Id
‘ I’d be content if I could just ride ponies all day ‘: Selma wears dress by Alexander McQueen and shoes by Christian Louboutin. Photograph: Dylan Coulter for the Observer

My jaw drops again. What? Turns out she has the rare condition idiopathic hyperprolactinaemia, which can lead to galactorrhea, in which the nipples emit a discharge resembling milk. An Ayurvedic healer once told her she was producing this” because I had never loved anybody, and this was my spirit trying to bring that person to me, to be loved “. Though Blair looks like someone who’d laugh in the face of hippy mending ideas, that is something that resonated with her.” I was about 34. And I believed, maybe that’s right, I’ve never loved somebody unconditionally- I’ve been in love, I’ve been in lust, I’ve been crazy about someone, but I’ve never really still … no. It rang true .” This was after her two-year marriage to Frank Zappa’s son Ahmet had ended.” And then my son had some health matters and he genuinely required the breast milk, so that really was my job. I guessed:’ Aaaah, I guess I can die now, I got him through that !’ But I depleted myself, too, and I’m still recovering. I still have to remind myself that my own body needs healthier fats than fried food .”

She lately bought the film rights to a novel she loved, The Lost by Sarah Beth Durst, which is about a woman who has been caring for her sick mom for years, but one day merely get in her vehicle and drives, merely to be concluded in a mysterious township where nothing grows and everything has been lost and disposed from elsewhere.” It was so simple, but also metaphysical and sorceries. It actually lifted a veil in my intellect. There are so many females to play, so much room for them .” So she wrote project proposals and is now pitching it, with her as producer and maybe as the lead. She has no other work lined up” and it feels like my only salvation. I had to do this .”

But then she started talking to humen in meetings about it.” They just sit like lumps, going:’ I don’t want to like this character because she left her mom .’ Well, one, she left her mother for a drive, and two, you can’t like a woman who’s broken her back to take care of other people her whole life? You’re not gonna follow this heroine?

” Once I had my child, I realised how unjust life has been for women. When you deal with potential custody issues, which we aimed up not having, but you look into it and realise this is all geared towards men now, and the court systems usually loathe single moms. I guessed, I do not have this fight in me, I don’t know how to deal with this. We’re too powerful, so we dim our glisten to get through stuff. I didn’t even realise until people started speaking up how genuinely kind of … furious … we should be allowed to be .”

I feel like this could be 10 years of fury.” Yeah, this is just the beginning. It starts with stories and then how do you change the system, how do you change the lesser attackers, the ones who shouldn’t be criminalised, but how do we teach our children no, you get out of the room, you have that right. And not have the consequences be so scary .”

I ask if it’s right that females are carrying this whole movement: should men be helping more? She responds that it was another male Hollywood director who promoted her to speak up about Toback.” And the men who are trying to change themselves and be more appropriate people every day … Fuck , I love them! Even the assholes. If they could just own some of it. How far it would go to mending some people if they could just say:’ I did it .’ Louis CK– even if he was cornered into saying it, and it doesn’t attain everything right, but saying:’ I belittled people, I did much worse ,’ well, that does something. So I hope I create a son who wants to be a better person every day .”

In the meantime, she needs to attain some money. I say she seems like she doesn’t want to join the Hollywood club. She agrees.” I likely need to look like I’m trying to join the club. It’s true, there wasn’t a desperation before, but with a kid I’m being introduced to some desperation. I’ve never made tons of fund, I’ve never been a huge star. I’ve always been the dark horse .”

Surely this goes in your favor, too? She cheers up and admits that it can.” It’s true, I’m not wholly out because I’ve never been totally in. There’s a certain luck I have because people suppose I’m still swanks, because I never wanted to be totally in. For me it’s about survival. I’d be content if I could ride ponies the working day and be with my son and read books. I’m various kinds of simple. But I have to make a living and I’m a bit scared shitless how I’m gonna do this .”

The other people I interview never admit that.” Well, maybe the other people you interview aren’t scared shitless. Could someone paid in full for an Instagram post? How do all these people do it? I would be very happy to shill something I liked !” Such as what, I ask?” Well, I don’t know what my marketplace is ,” she replies,” but maybe the Salad Association would like my dog .”

Mom and Dad is in cinemas from 9 March

Styling by Gaelle Paul and Hope Lawrie. Hair by Anh Co Tran, L’Oreal ambassador at Tracey Mattingly. Make-up by Kathy Jeung at Forward artists use NARS. Shot at Quixote Studio

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Sexual harassment is about power. So why not fight it like we do bullying? | Claire Potter

Show me a sex harasser and Ill present you a bully who likes to build everybody squirm

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Mario Testino and Bruce Weber ‘sexually exploited models’

Top fashion photographers suspended from titles including Vogue after models accused them of sexually exploiting them

Mario Testino and Bruce Weber have been suspended from working with way magazines including Vogue after models accused the photographers of sexually exploiting them.

Lawyers for Testino, known for photographing the royal family, disputed their accounts while Weber denied the claims to the New York Times, whose investigative report detailed a string of allegations.

Anna Wintour, the artistic director of Conde Nast, which publishes publications including Vogue and GQ, said the publisher would not work with the pair for the” foreseeable future” following Saturday’s report.

Testino, who took the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s official engagement photos and was given an honorary OBE in 2014, was accused by 13 male assistants and models of subjecting them to sexual advances.

Some said the Peruvian photographer’s behaviour, going back to the mid-1 990 s, included grope and masturbation, the paper reported.

Ryan Locke, a model who worked with Testino on Gucci campaigns, accused him of being aggressive and flirtatious throughout shoots, adding:” He was a sex predator .”

Hugo Tillman, a photographic deputy, said Testino had once grabbed him on the street and tried to kiss him and, a few a few weeks later, pinned him down on a bed until he was removed by another person.

Another assistant, Roman Barrett, said Testino had masturbated in front of him, and added:” Sexual harassment was a constant reality .”

One anonymous deputy said Testino had masturbated on him during a business trip-up, while another said the photographer had groped his backside, the newspaper reported.

The paper reported that lawyers for Testino, 63, said the sources could not be considered reliable.

The American photographer Weber, 71, was accused by 15 current and former models of subjecting them to unnecessary nudity and coercive sexual behaviour, in agreement with the New York Times.

The model Josh Ardolf said that during a nude shoot his genitals had been grabbed by Weber. Another model, Bobby Roache, said Weber had tried to put his hands down his trousers during a casting in 2007.

In a statement to the paper from his lawyer, Weber said:” I’m completely shocked and saddened by the outrageous asserts being made against me, which I perfectly deny .”

Wintour said the allegations against her” personal friends” had been” hard to hear and heartbreaking to confront “.

” I believe strongly in the value of remorse and forgiveness, but I take the allegations very seriously, and we at Conde Nast has now decided to set our working relationship with both photographers on hold for the foreseeable future ,” she said in a statement.

The publisher lately distanced itself from Terry Richardson in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, despite the denied asserts about the photographer mistreating models having been aired years previously.

Lavely& Singer, the law firm representing the pair, did not reply to a request for comment on the claims about Weber from the Press association and said there would be no additional comment regarding Testino. Representatives for both photographers are yet is in response to similar petitions.

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James Franco denies sexual misconduct claims during Stephen Colbert interview

Actor says claims made against him by two women are not accurate after being quizzed by Late Show host

James Franco has described sex misconduct accusations made against him as” not accurate”, when quizzed on the subject on Tuesday’s episode of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

The actor, who on Monday received a Golden Globe for his performance in slapstick biopic The Disaster Artist, responded to claims make use of two women on Twitter in the wake of his victory. Actor-director Sarah Tither-Kaplan alleges that Franco exploited her by asking her to perform nude in two of his cinemas for $100 per day, while performer Violet Paley alleges that Franco tried to force her to perform oral sex on him while in a car.

In a later tweet Paley claimed that Franco had apologised to her and several other women over the phone several weeks before the allegations came to light.

Violet Paley (@ VioletPaley)

A couple weeks ago, James offered me& a few other girls an overdue, annoyed, convenient phone “apology”. I don’t accept, but maybe some other people’s lives would be made easier if he donated all of his earnings from” The Disaster Artist” to @RAINN01.

January 9, 2018

Colbert addressed the claims during Tuesday’s episode of The Late Show , noting that Franco had received criticism online for wearing a badge supporting the Time’s Up motion and asking whether he wanted to respond to accusations made against him.

” The things that I heard that were on Twitter are not accurate, but I wholly support people came to see you and being able to have a voice since they are didn’t have a voice for so long ,” Franco told Colbert, adding that he didn’t” wishes to, you know, shut them down in any way. It’s, I think, a good thing and I support it .”

” The route I live my life, I can’t live if there’s restitution to be made. I will make it. So if I’ve done something wrong, I will fix it. I have to. I entail, I think that’s how that works. I don’t know what else to do ,” he added.

In the interview with Colbert, Franco also addressed a series of tweets by Breakfast Club starring Ally Sheedy, who he had directed in 2014 in the off-Broadway play The Long Shrift.” James Franco just won. Please never ever ask me why I left the cinema/ tv business ,” Sheedy wrote, later adding a second tweet which read:” Why is a man hosting? Why is James Franco allowed in? Said too much. Nite love ya #goldenglobes .” Sheedy has since deleted the tweets. However, screenshots have been widely circulated online.

” I have no idea what I did to Ally Sheedy ,” Franco said.” I directed her in a play off-Broadway. I had nothing but a great time with her and I have total respect for her. I have no idea why she was upset .”

Earlier on Tuesday the New York Times cancelled an event are planned for Wednesday with Franco and his brother Dave in the wake of the allegations.” The event was intended to be a discussion of the build of the movie, The Disaster Artist. Dedicated the disagreement surrounding recent accusations, we’re no longer comfy proceeding in that vein ,” the Times said in a statement.

The Guardian has contacted a representative for Sheedy for clarification on the comments made against Franco.

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China’s women break silence on harassment as #MeToo becomes #WoYeShi

Beijings strict social control mean few have risked speaking out about misogyny but campaigners are beginning to make their voices heard

It has been 12 years since Luo Qianqian says she was pounced upon by her PhD supervisor while she was studying in Beijing.” Please don’t do that ,” she recollects protesting.” I’m still a virgin .”

Luo , now in her mid-3 0s, recollects exploding into tears at the unwanted advance; her educator, who denies the claims, withdrew but afterward touched her hand as he implored her to keep quiet.” I was too panicked to speak ,” she remembers.

Since accusations of sex misconduct against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein turbocharged the #MeToo hashtag campaign last October, there has been an outpouring of fury over misogyny and sexual violence suffered from Hollywood to Hanoi and Hong Kong.

But while the Weinstein effect has swept across the Americas, Europe and other parts of Asia, there has been near silence in China’s authoritarian mainland.

” Some girls have come out …[ but] what’s really striking is how few ,” says Leta Hong Fincher, an expert in China’s feminist movement, who argues Communist party censorship is the perpetrator.

Hong Fincher believes the party’s almost entirely male leadership feels “spooked” by the idea that members of a supposedly “untouchable” male elite could be toppled by a similar campaign here.

As a result, she suspects authorities have ordered China’s intensely controlled media to avoid aggressive, in-depth coverage.” There is a history of the Chinese government being really worried about political upheaval outside its borders affecting its own population and there is no question whatsoever that the #MeToo movement is insured by the authorities as potentially posing a threat ,” she says.

Slowly, however, females are violating the silence in a country where one analyze suggested 80% of women had experienced sexual harassment.

On 1 January Luo published an eloquent online denunciation of her alleged experience. “[ There’s] no longer any need to be afraid … we need to stand up bravely and say’ No !’,” she wrote, recommending others to speak out using the hashtag #Wo Ye Shi (# WoYeShi or #MeToo ).

Huang Xueqin, a Guangzhou-based journalist who was herself assaulted in 2012, is conducting a survey of her industry to uncover the prevalence of sex misconduct.

Huang said her activism was partly driven by a feeling of guilt that she had previously failed to confront perpetrators of workplace harassment:” I didn’t want to be a troublemaker- but silence is equal to connivance .”

Also inspired by the United States’ ” Silence Breakers “, Zheng Xi, a student from Hangzhou, recently launched a public anti-sexual harassment campaign.” I believed those performers were so brave ,” she said.

Hong Fincher, who is writing a volume called Betraying Big Brother: China’s Feminist Resistance, expects more voices will emerge. So far merely” the tiniest, tiniest tip of the iceberg” has been uncovered:” All the activists working on these issues- rape, sexual harassment and domestic violence cases- will tell you that .”

Despite their nervousness, Hong Fincher wagers authorities will not totally snuff out the debate, so long as it remains” manageable troublemaking “.

” It’s OK for an individual girl here and there to come out and talk about her experience … but if any of these women stimulated it a really big deal or started to get a lot of sustained attention on social media I have no doubt that the police or somebody would come and visit her .”

Challenging the party is a risky business. Since Xi Jinping became leader in 2012, a severe human rights crackdown has unfolded, landing even moderate activists in jail. In 2015 five leading feminists were detained after plotting to distribute stickers about sexual harassment on modes of public transport.

Even so, members of China’s nascent # MeToo movement said they would continue to protest.” If people like me don’t break the stillnes, how can you expect others to ?” said Huang.

” I need to be the whistleblower. Someone has to do something .”

Additional reporting by Wang Zhen and Wang Xueying .

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Oprah Winfrey’s stirring Golden Globes speech prompts talk of White House run

After Winfrey dedicated a powerful speech about sexual harassment, racial injustice and press freedom, celebrities on Twitter advised her to run for office

Oprah Winfrey brought the Golden Globes audience to their feet with a powerful speech as she accepted the Cecil B DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award on Sunday night, inspiring supposition about a run for the White House.

The notion of the talkshow host and entrepreneur running for chairman against Donald Trump in 2020 was raised by the awardings’ host, Seth Meyers, in his opening monologue.

” In 2011, I told some jokes about our current president at the White House correspondents dinner, gags about how he was unqualified to be president ,” Meyers said.” And some have said that night convinced him to operate. And if that’s true, I would just like to say,’ Oprah you will never be president .'”

After Winfrey’s speech her partner, Stedman Graham, told the Los Angeles Times:” It’s up to the people. She would utterly do it .”

Celebrities employed Twitter to advise Winfrey to run. The comedian Sarah Silverman tweeted” Oprah/ Michelle 2020″ while the actor Leslie Odom Jr wrote:” She’s running. A new day is on the way .”

After an introduction by Reese Witherspoon, the actor and philanthropist took to the stage to address racial injustice and sexual abuse on an evening in which girls wore black to demonstrate support for the #MeToo movement.

Winfrey began by discussing Sidney Poitier, who won the 1964 Academy Award for best performer and, in doing so, became the first black man to win an Oscar. Eighteen years later, he received the Cecil B DeMille award at the 1982 Golden Globes.

Winfrey said:” In 1982, Sidney received the Cecil B DeMille award right here at the Golden Globes and “its not” lost on me that at this moment, there are some little girls watching as I become the first black female to be given this same award.

” It is an honor- it is an honor and it is a privilege to share the evening with all of them and also with the unbelievable men and women who have inspired me, who challenged me, who sustained me and made my journey to this stage possible .”

Oprah Winfrey’s speech in full.

She continued:” I want to thank the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. We know the press is under siege these days. We also know it’s the insatiable dedication to uncovering the absolute truth that maintains us from turning a blind eye to corruption and to injustice .”

Addressing victims of sexual abuse, Oprah noted that the recent revelations about Hollywood’s endemic sex misconduct go far beyond the entertainment industry , noting that the issue” transcends any culture, geography, race, religion, politics, or workplace “.

She went on:” So I want tonight to express gratitude to all the women who have endured years of abuse and assault since they are, like my mother, had children to feed and bills to pay and dreams to pursue.

” They’re the women whose names we’ll never know. They are domestic workers and farm workers. They are working in factories and they work in eateries and they’re in academia, engineering, medicine and science. They’re part of the world of tech and politics and business. They’re our athletes in the Olympics and they’re our soldiers in the military .”

Winfrey then referenced Recy Taylor, a black woman who was abducted in 1944 in Alabama and raped by six men. When her tale was reported to the NAACP, Winfrey explained, Rosa Parks analyse her example but was unable, in the Jim Crow era, to bring her abusers to justice.

Play Video
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Five fiery moments from the Golden Globes 2018- video report

” Recy Taylor succumbed 10 days ago, only shy of her 98 th birthday ,” Winfrey said.” She lived as we all have lived, too many years in a culture transgressed by savagely powerful men. For too long, females have not been heard or believed if they dare speak the truth to the power of those men. But their time is up. Their day is up .”

” So I want all the girls watching here , now, to know that a new day is on the horizon !” Winfrey concluded, as the audience gave her a standing ovation.

” And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal humen, fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say’ me too’ again .”

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Vice founders apologize for allowing a boys club culture at the company

Vice Media founders Shane Smith and Suroosh Alvi say they are “truly sorry” for not doing enough to stop inappropriate behavior at the company. In a public statement issued shortly before The New York Times published an article on Saturday that described multiple accounts of sex misconduct by Vice employees, Smith, its chief executive officer, and Alvi said they are taking several steps to improve Vice’s workplace culture, including new harassment reporting procedures.

Founded in 1994 as a publication about Montreal’s punk scene, Vice eventually relocated to New York City to expand its coverage of counterculture issues. A decade ago, Vice began constructing its reaching substantially with a digital empire that now includes multiple websites and an international TV channel with original the information and documentaries. It has raised about $1.4 billion in funding, including a $450 million round in June that put its post-money valuation at $5.7 billion, and is currently investigating a public offering. Despite its edgy editorial tone, Vice’s investors include The Walt Disney Company, 21 st Century Fox and A+ E Networks.

The New York Times’ article, headlined “At Vice, Cutting-Edge Media And Allegations of Old-School Sexual Harassment, ” alleged that Vice’s forward-thinking did not extend to its treatment of female employee and put it among many other companies, including Uber, Netflix, Amazon Studios, NBC and Fox News, that have been rocked by sexual harassment charges. The newspaper uncovered four settlements paid by Vice over allegations of sexual harassment by its employees, including current president Andrew Creighton. The New York Times also spoke to more than two dozen women who said they had either experienced or witnessed sex misconduct at the company.

“The settlements and the many episodes of harassment the women described depict a top-down ethos of male entitlement at Vice, where women said they felt like just another party favor at an organization where partying often was an extension of the job, ” wrote New York Times reporter Emily Steel.

In their statement, which was originally sent as a memo to Vice’s staff, Smith and Alvi apologized for enabling a sexist workplace culture and voiced “extreme regret for our role in perpetuating sexism in the media industry and society in general.” A shorter version of the statement was also be forwarded to the New York Times ahead of publishing and quoted in the article.

Neither Smith or Alvi were accused of sexual harassment in the New York Times piece, but several former or current members of Vice’s management were, including Creighton, chief digital policeman Mike Germano and former Vice News head Jason Mojica, who was fired last month.

“Listening to our employees over the past year, the truth is inescapable: from the top down, we have failed as a company to create a safe and all-inclusive workplace where everyone, especially women, can feel respected and prosper, ” Smith and Alvi wrote. “Cultural elements from our past, dysfunction and mismanagement were allowed to flourish unchecked. That includes a detrimental’ boy’s club’ culture that promoted inappropriate behavior that permeated throughout the company. It happened on our watch, and ultimately we let far too many people down. We are truly sorry for this.”

The two wrote that Vice has already fired three employees over “unacceptable behavior” and outlined other steps the company is taking to change its culture. These include a new chief human resources officer, Susan Tohyama, a former HR exec at the National Basketball Association who has been given “broad authority” to make changes at Vice. Chief financial officer Sarah Broderick is now also Vice’s chief operating officer, dedicating her more power to change its work environment.

Smith and Alvi also said Vice will no longer attain employees sign its “non-traditional workplace agreement, ” a contract intended to acknowledge they might enter into negotiations with “offensive, indecent, violent or disturbing content” in the course of their work, but which some interpreted to mean they could not complain about harassment.

Other measures promised include rewritten policies on consensual relationships and sexual harassment; a third-party employee hotline for reporting misbehavior; a variety advisory board that will be chaired by lawyer Roberta Kaplan and include prominent women including Gloria Steinem; pay parity by the end of 2018; diversity develop; and extended maternity and paternity leave benefits for all employees.

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Arizona congressman to resign after discussing child surrogacy with female staffers

Republican Trent Franks says he deeply regrets that workplace debate caused distress as Congress grapples with sex misconduct allegations

The Arizona congressman Trent Franks has announced he will resign from Congress at the end of January after discussing child surrogacy with female staff members.

” I have recently learned that the Ethics Committee is reviewing an inquiry considering my discussion of surrogacy with two previous female subordinates, building each feeling uncomfortable ,” Franks said in a statement on Thursday.” I deeply regret that my discussion of this alternative and process in the workplace caused distress .”

However, the Arizona Republican insisted,” I want to make one thing completely clear. I have absolutely never physically intimidated, coerced or had, or attempted to have, any sex linked with any member of my congressional personnel .”

Franks, a member of the far-right Freedom Caucus and a staunch social conservative, said he would step down on 31 January 2018. Roll Call first reported the story.

Franks’ departure comes amid widening allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct in politics and increased scrutiny over how such asserts are managed on Capitol hill.

Just hours before Franks’ proclamation, the Minnesota senator Al Franken, a Democrat, said he would resign in the coming weeks after females accused him of sexual harassment. It also came days after the departure of the Democratic congressman John Conyers, the longest-serving African American member in House history, who is facing the allegations that he made recurred unwanted sexual advances toward female staffers.

Franks, who represents a deeply conservative district and is known in Washington as an anti-abortion crusader who often cites scripture, could be seen on the House floor on Thursday huddling with his fellow Arizona Republicans David Schweikert and Andy Biggs, just after the story broke. As he walked off the floor, Franks declined to confirm to reporters that he wants to resign.

” I’ll let the statement speak for itself ,” he said, in a rush to the elevator banks.

In his lengthy written statement, Franks said he took “full responsibility” for the way he” broached the topic, which unbeknownst to me until very recently, made certain people uncomfortable “.

He also shared details about the difficulties he and his wife had had conceiving a child, including three miscarriages and two failed attempts to adopt a child before a” wonderful and loving lady” acted as a gestational surrogate for their twins. He said the process was a” pro-life approach that did not discard or throw away any embryos “.

Franks said the couple continued to look for surrogates to give their twins another sibling.

The statement ending by saying, in part:” In the midst of this current cultural and media climate I am deeply convinced I would be unable to complete a fair House ethics investigation before distorted and sensationalized versions of this story would set me, my family and my staff and my noble colleagues in the House of Representative through hyperbolized public excoriation .”

” It is with great sadness that for the sake of the causes I deeply love, I must now step back from the combat I have spent over three decades fighting ,” Franks added.” I hope my resignation will remain distinct from the great gains we have built .”

The House speaker, Paul Ryan, said in a statement that on 29 November he had been” briefed on believable claims of misconduct by Rep. Trent Franks” that he found” serious and requiring action “. He also said that Franks, when will come forward with the accusations, did not deny them and that Ryan told him he should resign.

In background further provided by Ryan’s office, it was disclosed that an investigation was opened two weeks ago when the speaker’s general counsel was given” information about troubling behaviour by Rep. Trent Franks directed at a former staffer “.

The Arizona Republic reported that last week the congressman declined to respond to a request by the paper about whether he was aware of any legal settlements” to resolve claims against him involving sexual harassment or creating a hostile workplace for women “.

In light of the allegations in Congress, a group of lawmakers led by a alliance of bipartisan females are pushing for stricter standards for reporting sexual assault and would reform the rules around resolving harassment claims. Currently, accusations of sexual harassment in Congress are overseen by the little-known Office of Compliance, which over two decades employed approximately $17 m in taxpayer dollars to pay out settlements and awardings to federal employees.

Last week, an ethics panel in the House of Representatives demanded records of all settlements for sexual harassment attained in the lower chamber of Congress.

It was revealed that Conyers was among those who utilized the fund to softly settle a claim for $27,000 with a former staffer who said she was fired for refusing to give in to his recurred sexual advancements. It was afterward unearthed that the Texas Republican Blake Farenthold determined a 2014 sexual harassment grievance with a former female aide for $84,000. Both humen deny the allegations. The House ethics committee also announced Thursday night that it was launching an investigation into the claims against Farenthold.

The rapid succession of resignations this week is an indicator of how politically toxic the issue has become since the Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein was accused by dozens of women of sexual misconduct.

Such articles was revised on 7 December 2017. An earlier version said Trent Franks asked female staff members to act as surrogate moms. This has been changed to say that Franks discussed surrogacy with his staff member.