Fox News, Conservatism and Misogyny

Fox and Friends with Gretchen Carlson

Fox and Friends with Gretchen Carlson

Why do conservatism and misogyny so often go hand in hand?

Gretchen Carlson, formerly of Fox News, is suing the conservative network for sexual harassment.

She says that her “Fox and Friends” cohost, Steve Doocy, saw her as little more than a blonde prop. Instead of treating her like the intelligent and educated (Stanford and Oxford) journalist she was, he engaged in sexual harassment and belittled her during commercial breaks.

Two former female staffers anonymously back her up.

But who needs anonymous backers when you’ve got video?

In 2012 Ms. Carlson walked off the set when cohost, Brian Kilmeade made one of his sexist jokes. Another time, Steve Doocy grabbed her arm and shushed her on a live broadcast. And Bloomberg politics created a mash up of the sexism that has bombarded Ms. Carlson over the years:

When she finally complained to Fox chief Roger Ailes, she says he called her a man-hater and told her to get along with the boys. And then suggested:

I think you and I should have had a sexual relationship a long time ago and then you’d be good and better and I’d be good and better. Problems are easier to solve that way.

It’s not just Fox. Sexism and harassment are rampant within conservative bastions like college fraternities, Wall Street, and Trump rallies (where you can get a pin saying “Trump that bitch”).

Why are conservatives so often misogynists?

Conservatives like stability and hierarchy. Particularly when they sit atop that pyramid.

And right now men are up top. But men aren’t naturally better than women so sexist men work to create a sense of female inferiority.

How to do it?

Gretchen Carlson and Roger Ailes

Gretchen Carlson and Roger Ailes

Rampant sexual harassment helps.

So does sexual objectification. And Fox News is well-known for its transparent desks that show off women’s legs.

But the world is changing. As Jim Rutenberg at the New York Times explained:

At a time of fast-moving social change, Fox News can at times be viewed as a port in a storm for traditionalists who pine for the way we were — for the days when there was no gay marriage; no terms like “gender fluidity”; no doubt about the roles men and women were supposed to play and certainly no talk about the liberties men might take with female subordinates behind closed doors.

(Fox is facing) the same gale force that is sweeping through Hollywood, Silicon Valley and Madison Avenue, bringing into the open generations-old patterns and behaviors that were never O.K., but were for so long abetted by silence.

Yes, times, they are a changing.

Related Posts

About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on July 15, 2016, in objectification, psychology, rape and sexual assault, sexism, women and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 34 Comments.

  1. I admire Gretchen Carlson for standing up for herself and acknowledging the sexist behavior committed by her cohost and Roger Ailes. It takes a lot of courage to speak up for yourself in uncomfortable situations when there is fear of retribution. As a female, I have had occasions in the workplace where I have been sexually harassed and never said anything. Either I am too embarrassed to say something or I do not want to be the person that causes any problems. In the end, I am the one who suffers and is continued to be put in these uncomfortable situations.
    I am thankful to Carlson because her story brings more awareness to the harassment women still face in the workplace. This kind of behavior is unacceptable and should be called out more. Fox News has a long way to go if they want to get rid of the sexist culture that surrounds their news station, but I’m glad they have one less misogynistic elite in power.

  2. I enjoyed reading your response and am so thankful you put the link to the Bloomberg compilation. Fox News is a station I have never watched, but I was aware based off of jokes in shows like VEEP, that the women were typically more sexualized and less respected than their male cohosts. Coincidentally a few hours before reading your response, I came across a trailer for a new film coming out this month called Bombshell that is based on the lives of several women who used to work at Fox News. Watching the Bloomberg compilation was incredibly heartbreaking to me because it is so clear that both Laura and Gretchen Carlson are uncomfortable, but they have to continue smiling through it. Gretchen knows that she can’t express her anger or discomfort on air, so instead, she makes a (serious) joke about calling HR, and her cohost doesn’t even acknowledge that he has done anything wrong. I’m glad that she realized her worth and that the way she was being treated was utterly unacceptable.

  3. handsomelustrousblackladbrad

    I’ll turn white before Fox Noise changes.As for Ms. Carlson,well,as my mother always said,”Lie with dogs and you get fleas!!!”

  4. Yeah,but wasn’t Ms. Carlson hired by Fox Noise BECAUSE she’s a buxom blonde?This of course,IN NO WAY EXCUSES the shameful behavior towards her by the Fox News boys’ club,but Ms. Carlson,a VERY intelligent woman,HAD TO KNOW that in a misogynistic organization such as Fox Noise,she’d be regarded just a blonde bimbo!!!!!!!!

    • Maybe she didn’t realize it or thought she could change it from the inside out. No use blaming the victim. Better to shine a spotlight on Fox Noise and make a change for the better.

  5. It’s a common thing to harass women co-actors, co-hosts or colleagues by hurling sexist jokes! And, the moment you protest, they brand you as a man-hater…a known pattern everywhere!! This is the very reason everyone should speak up…

    • It’s amazing how the privilege can feel entitled. Whether it’s men who feel entitled to spew sexism and then get offended when women complain. Or whether it is Black people who protest the the killings by police and are told by whites that they expect some sort of privileged status or something. Just amazes me!

  6. “Gretchen Carlson, formerly of Fox News, is suing the conservative network for sexual harassment.”

    Incorrect. She is only suing Roger Ailes, individually for sexual harassment.

    I think if you were to look at the facts you will find two things: 1) men who are more wealthy and powerful are more likely to engage in this type of behavior, period and 2) if we look at Congress…Democrats have been the greatest culprits and offenders. Just do the research and get the facts.

    Yes, conservative men might believe in hierarchy and patriarchy more so than other men. But, conservative men also have much higher moral standards too.

    • Point well taken. Except the last sentence. Depends on how you define moral. I define moral as “don’t hurt others.” And I’ve found liberal men to be very good at that — as are many conservative men.

      • I define moral as “don’t hurt others.”

        Well, that a pretty meaningless definition of morality if you ask me. So, an adult father and daughter engaging in consensual sex is moral in your eyes? It would certainly qualify using your non definition of morality.

        My definition is based rooted in religion. I think the Bible says a lot more about how we should live and conduct ourselves than “don’t hurt others.”

      • A father and daughter engaging in consensual sex is not moral in my eyes for a number of reasons. Inbreeding isn’t good biologically. The daughter probably isn’t of age to consent. It screws up family dynamics. And fathers should be thinking of their children in terms of how they can help them — not how their children can pleasure them — that gets selfish.

        I agree with the Bible message: do unto others as you would have done unto to you. I don’t agree with the parts that encourage people to harm others through things like homophobia and sexism.

  7. It’s very frightening and sad that men rape young women and people don’t try to stop it as hard as they should.
    Shouldn’t the state try harder to protect people?

    • Breitbart isn’t my favorite new source. But I definitely agree that everyone should work to prevent rape. Sometimes guys are afraid to because they fear being ostracized. But they can put an arm around a buddy and say “hey, we don’t want to get you and her and the fraternity in trouble” — pointing out that the guy can get himself and the whole fraternity in trouble if the guy is so selfish that he doesn’t care at all about the girl.

      In the news item you offer and wondering why people didn’t stop what was happening. Did they not realize it? Were they afraid for themselves? And if so why didn’t they get a hold of the police? Were there not enough police?

  8. More proof if we needed it, that we need feminism more than ever. I’m glad she is speaking, because it is for the benefit of all women.
    PS not getting involved in the conservative debate you have happening here 😜

  9. “Fraternities are institutionally conservative. Both racist and sexist. And classist. The men who join them tend to adhere to the culture, Whether they like it or not. Some do quit and someone don’t join in the first place — so they probably draw more from conservatives too.”

    I don’t know. A bunch of friends, social status, big parties/social events, a bunch of girls whether sorority girls or girls from the college being at these parties. Being part of a frat sets boys up for that. And, well a lot of guys, regardless of political affiliation are attracted to all these things or willing to put it aside if they feel they will have a good time joining such group. The feeling of being a part of something and where you’d have fun and meet a bunch of girls doesn’t seems to be a thing that crosses various genres for guys as far as political affiliation, religious affiliation, democrat, republican, etc. Our culture kind of prompts guys to feel to want to be part of all that regardless of their background and joining a frat sets up such possibilities.

    • I’m sure that these guys do want to be part of the fraternity thing for the reasons you give – regardless of their political affiliation. But then they conform to what’s there. And fraternities were originally set up with “being on top of the hierarchy” in mind. They have a culture of racism, sexism and classism, set up to keep those who were on top on top. Even having fraternities invite and sororities accept gives the fraternities male power. Someone who explored rape at dangerous fraternities heard men saying that “men feel superior in their own domain.” And women saying that men invited them and so they followed the men’s rules.

      If you live in a world that has privileged white, male and the rich (and what place doesn’t privilege the rich?) these groups are more likely to be conservative – to you want to conserve their privilege. And one way to do that is to be racist and sexist and classist.

      I suppose one could be conservative without all of that. They could focus on conserving different sorts of things. I would have to think through with those things would be and I am open to others’ thoughts on the question.

  10. I’d say it goes across the political spectrum. I seem to recall an intern giving a much older liberal male president boss oral favors in the White House. And the president’s wife being in charge of “bimbo eruptions”.

    Two wrongs don’t make a right.

    • You can find it on left and right, but it’s a lot more prevalent on the right. See what I wrote to Bob. And I haven’t heard the same complaints about any other news network – all of which are considerably less conservative than FOXNews.

      I’ve also gone through my life hearing much more sexism from conservative than liberal men. In fact, I almost never hear it from liberal men, who treat me with much more respect than the conservatives I’ve been around. I grew up in a very conservative subculture, and have been immersed in both sides.

      • I’m thinking of Hollywood as the bastion of “liberal elites” and the epicenter of casting couches. I stereotypes universities as Liberal elite institutions too. Certainly, most of their students are young, and nowadays, female. Two demographics associated with liberal tendencies. I believe the majority of professors are self described liberals too (though I don’t know that to be true and haven’t seen statistics) It might be interesting (and disgustiong!) to see what the crime statistics are across a spectrum of universities and colleges.

      • I do know that women are most likely to be raped by fraternity members and men in certain types of sports teams – more football than golf. And it’s due to a macho attitude. Men trying to prove to each other how manly they are. And it’s very tied to humiliating talk about women.

  11. It’s so disturbing that these very wrongful acts can be perpetrated against a woman (or anyone for that matter) and not only go unpunished but actually be encouraged by others! Shame!

  12. Oh come on, this is not a right wing vs left wing thing. Look at the ultra-left, i.e. communists. Every major communist leader has kept harems of young girls, from Kim Jong-Un, to Stalin to Fidel Castro. This is a power issue. Where men have lots of money or power, this is what they do, regardless of their political or religious affiliations. If you want religion, you can see what Muslims do with a free hand (Ottoman Sultan harems), Christians (Mormons), Buddhists (King Mongkut of Siam), and so forth.

    • The Communists Who started the movement – the true believers – officially supported female equality. Frederick Ingles was very concerned with the issue and explored why we have gender inequality, and worked to fight it. But it can be hard to change a culture from the top down, and they weren’t completely successful.

      But just because you are a leader within communism doesn’t mean that you believe in the party line. They may just be seeking power as opposed to true ideology. Some of the richest man in the world today were part of the communist leadership and Took full advantage of privatization – taking everything for themselves.

      And Mormons, Muslims and many Buddhists are strongly conservative, so you are kind of making my point with that one.

      I was talking sexism, not just objectifying. But check these out:

      Burqas Don’t Stop Harassment, Rush
      Modesty Objectifies Women Says Nude Egyptian
      Modesty Objectifies Me

      • If people don’t necessarily support the party line of whatever group you belong to, that kind of obliterates your point, which is making an anecdotal reference to a couple of events.

        So Fidel Castro wasn’t a true believer? When all the poster boys of a movement are labelled unbelievers, it makes you wonder who is authorised to even say what the movement is anyway. And if there is a particular pure form of the ideology, maybe what… Marx himself? Does that mean true feminism is Marxist as the only pure form of left wing ideology?

        How does it make your point when an ideology – Christian, strongly monogamist and conservative is bent into polygamy by power? It makes my point that this is an issue of power and money, not ideology. Money and power breeds exploitation, not ideology.

      • Conservatives want to conserve status quo

        Status quo is sexism (racism, homophobia…)

        To sustain a sense of female inferiority, misogyny comes in handy.

  13. To be far. This seems like it can be a high status, a lot of power where it makes a man an egomaniac, self serving and disrespectful for people, especially women thing. Politicians in general as I’m sure you’ve heard of various stories are not known to be too respectful and more often than not, display misogyny. I mean Bill Clinton was a democrat, we all know how that went ha. Let’s not forget his other incidents of sexual harassment to women. Politicians cheating on their wives or treating women as inferior or sexually harass women. So I think male democrats are just as much likely to be sexist too.

    • Bill had his issues so it’s not like it’s only conservatives. It’s just more prevalent with conservatives.

      For instance, I went to three universities. Brigham Young was very conservative. UCLA was very liberal. San Diego State was in between. At you silly women were treated very well, except for the fraternities. At San Diego State women were objectified, that men were also quite positive toward women. Except for the fraternities. At Brigham Young hostile “coed jokes” were told incessantly. Sometimes even in class. I didn’t feel very good about being a woman when I was there. And now I always root against BYU. And I don’t give them any money when they come calling.

      And there is a reason for the fact that conservatives have more misogyny: they are more hierarchal, and in a patriarchy that means been on top.

      • You bring up fraternities. Maybe the origin is conservative based, but I guarantee the frat guys who are part of it, even the sexist ones. I’m sure, just from probability that the boys part of such fraternities are a mix of political affiliations, background or beliefs. Don’t be naive to think that it’s mainly conservatives that are apart of fraternities. I’m pretty sure it’s a mix as far as the guys who are part of them. So you can have bigoted, sexist democratic or liberal guys part of the fraternities or who internalize their peers too.

      • Fraternities are institutionally conservative. Both racist and sexist. And classist. The men who join them tend to adhere to the culture, Whether they like it or not. Some do quit and someone don’t join in the first place — so they probably draw more from conservatives too.

Thoughts? (Comments will appear after moderation)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: