The Fox News host has reportedly settled with five different women on allegations of sexual harassment and other inappropriate behavior.
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Last Saturday, the New York Times revealed that Fox News host Bill O'Reilly has reportedly settled with five different women on allegations of sexual harassment and other inappropriate behavior, totaling $13 million. But, in an ironic twist, the conservative talking head actually included a section on consent in his latest book, Old School: Life in the Sane Lane.
The book, which he co-authored with Bruce Feirstein, explores the current battle between "old-school" traditionalists and "snowflakes," or people who "whin[e] about social justice and income equality." As reported by the Huffington Post, the authors bestow some "old-school" dating advice for readers: "No means no," they write. "It would be easy to make fun of all the hoops college administrators expect their students to jump through today before they engage in any kind of intimacy. But there's no middle ground here. It's all about the Old School tenets of respect and responsibility. No means no."
Except, it appears O'Reilly hasn't historically embraced the "tenets of respect" when told no. According to the Times report, the women in the settlements "complained about a wide range of behavior, including verbal abuse, lewd comments, unwanted advances and phone calls, in which it sounded as if Mr. O'Reilly was masturbating, according to documents and interviews." They also reported fearing retribution when they rebuffed his advances.
For example, one woman said O'Reilly promised to help get her a job as a contributor on Fox News, but when she refused to go back to his hotel suite one night, "he became hostile, telling her she could forget any career advice he had given her and she was on her own."
Eva Goldfarb is a professor of public health at Montclair University who focuses on sex education. While she wouldn't comment on O'Reilly's definition of consent directly, she does champion the importance of consent education in helping to prevent sexual violence, especially for men. "While there is no disagreement that consent needs to be part of any sexual interaction, critics of this approach suggest that rape and sexual assault occur not because men don't know what consent is but because they don't care," she says.
"Boys and young men in our culture have been raised with a vision of masculinity that encourages them to take what is rightfully theirs by any means necessary," she continues. "To take what they feel is coming to them and not to take 'no' for an answer. To break the rules, if necessary in pursuit of their goal. So, we shouldn't be surprised that this attitude crosses over into the sexual arena as well, especially in a society that devalues women and femininity."
She adds that "the message of consent has to include talking with boys about what it means to be told 'no.' That it is OK to take 'no' for an answer. That being a man doesn't always have to involve winning or getting your way. ... The message needs to be that nobody gets what they want all the time and receiving rejection is part of the human experience."
Since the Times story was published, advertisers on The O'Reilly Factor have been dropping left and right. This comes after CEO Roger Ailes's resignation last year when he was accused of sexual harassment.
In response to the reports, O'Reilly has denied the allegations and said in a statement that in his two decades at Fox News, "No one has ever filed a complaint about me with the Human Resources Department, even on the anonymous hotline."