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Dec 04
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Rachel Witlieb Bernstein, one of the women with whom Bill O’Reilly settled sexual harassment claims, served the disgraced former anchor with a lawsuit accusing him of defamation and breach of contract, The New York Times reported on Monday.

Bernstein is one of at least six women who are known to have reached settlements with Fox News and O’Reilly over alleged sexual misconduct in the workplace. The New York Times has reported that the network has spent $45 million to keep those cases out of court, with a settlement of $32 million going to one woman.

O’Reilly has always maintained his innocence, saying he agreed to settle the cases to spare his children the embarrassment of public court proceedings. But in doing so, O’Reilly has often declared that he’s been the target of a political agenda to bring him down and has dismissed his accusers as liars, which is where Bernstein’s lawyers say he ran afoul of the settlement, particularly the non-disclosure agreement portion of it, to which he agreed.

“In fact, Mr. O’Reilly is the liar,” the lawsuit alleges. “He mistreated Ms. Bernstein. She was forced out of her job at Fox News and paid a settlement because of his mistreatment. O’Reilly portrayed himself as a ‘target’ and claimed that complaints against him are extortionate,” the lawsuit continued. “This is false. In fact, he is a serial abuser and Ms. Bernstein’s complaints about him were far from extortionate.”

O’Reilly recently appeared on the Today show, where he was interviewed — in what has turned out to be a stunning twist — by Matt Lauer on the allegations that led to his dismissal by Fox News. O’Reilly hit on some of those themes in the interview with Lauer, though he did so using more reserved terms than he has in the past. Watch the interview below. Still, as the lawsuit reportedly made clear, any of the parties that were asked about the settlement were supposed to respond by simply saying, “The matter has been resolved (or settled).”

Read the full story at The New York Times.

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'It's the power'

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has spoken out about her own experiences with sexual harassment in the workplace and cautioned against a backlash against women over what the #MeToo movement has exposed about the American workplace.

In a lengthy post on her Facebook page, Sandberg says she’s lucky that, at the age of 48, she’s never been subjected to sexual harassment by her bosses, all of whom have been men. But that doesn’t mean she hasn’t been objectified and groped in work atmospheres.

“Still, like almost every woman — and some men — I know, I have experienced sexual harassment in the form of unwanted sexual advances in the course of doing my job,” Sandberg said in the post. “A hand on my leg under the table at a meeting. Married men — all decades older than I — offering ‘career advice’ and then suggesting that they could share it with me alone late at night. The conference where a man I declined leaving a dinner with came to my hotel room late at night and banged on my door until I called security.”

Sandberg said that as her career trajectory has taken her upward, these sorts of encounters have occurred less frequently, but she was clear about what the motive underlying those experiences is. “I didn’t work for any of these men. But in every single one of these situations, they had more power than I did. That’s not a coincidence. It’s why they felt free to cross that line.”

Sandberg, playing on a 1992 presidential election slogan that cut to the heart of what was motivating voters, issued her own slogan to keep in mind when considering women’s experiences in the workplace: “It’s the power, stupid.”

She also worried that the #MeToo campaign could spark negative and unintended consequences for women in the workplace.

“I have already heard the rumblings of a backlash: ‘This is why you shouldn’t hire women,’” Sandberg wrote. “Actually, this is why you should. And you shouldn’t just hire women — you should mentor, advise, and promote them.”

Read her full post below.

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Tale of the tape

Billy Bush published a scathing Op-Ed in The New York Times Sunday in which he pushed back against recent reports indicating that President Donald Trump is telling some of those in his inner circle that he thinks the audio in the infamous Access Hollywood tape from 2005 may have been doctored.

Bush, the former Access Hollywood host who could be heard giggling as Trump made the remark, was unequivocal. “He said it,” Bush wrote. “Grab ’em by the pussy. Of course he said it. And we laughed along, without a single doubt that this was hypothetical hot air from America’s highest-rated bloviator.”

Bush, a family member of the Bush political dynasty, said that seven other men were witness to Trump’s remarks. The former host suggested that he thought at the time that Trump was “performing” a “standup act,” but said in the intervening years and amid the slew of allegations of sexual misconduct that emerged against Trump during the campaign, he’s come to realize that Trump’s commentary is all too real.

He then went on to cite some of Trump’s accusers claims, noting that he believes the women.

“Kristin Anderson said that Mr. Trump reached under her skirt and ‘touched her vagina through her underwear’ while they were at a New York nightclub in the 1990s. That makes the ‘grab ’em by the pussy’ routine real. I believe her,” Bush wrote in the piece.

The sharp response from Bush is not the only one that has preemptively challenged the president on any doubt he might publicly try to cast on the authenticity of the Access Hollywood tape. Last week, Access Hollywood host Natalie Morales addressed the issue on the air and said, “Let us make this perfectly clear: The tape is very real. Remember his excuse at the time was ‘locker room talk.’ He said every one of those words.” And, Arianne Zucker, the actress who appeared in the tape with Bush and Trump also spoke out and questioned how Trump “could apologize for something” and then try to backtrack and change the narrative.

Bush, who was dismissed by NBC from his Access Hollywood job in the days after the tape was leaked, is still not working in television and he wrote openly about how difficult the last year has been for him.

Read the full Op-Ed at The New York Times.

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For real?

Brock Turner, the former Stanford University swimmer who was found guilty of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman, has moved to appeal his conviction.

As The Independent reports, Turner’s lawyers have filed an appeal, in which they argue that the conviction was based on a “detailed and lengthy set of lies.” More specifically, the brief maintains that the deputy district attorney tainted the jury because he said that Turner assaulted the woman behind a dumpster, when she was in fact found in a space behind a trash enclosure and a basketball court.

“The prejudicial aspects of this ‘behind-the-dumpster’ characterization were twofold: (1) it implied an intent on the appellant’s part to shield and sequester his activities with Ms. Doe from the view of others; and (2) it implied moral depravity, callousness, and culpability on the appellant’s part because of the inherent connotations of filth, garbage, detritus and criminal activity frequently generally associated with dumpsters,” the brief states, according to the Mercury News. “The cumulative effect of this misleading course of conduct deprived appellant of a fair trial.”

Turner is no longer in prison — he only served three months out of his six-month sentence — but his lawyers hope to fight the requirement that has indefinitely placed him on the register for sex offenders.

Turner’s case made international headlines after two graduate students caught him assaulting a woman outside, near a campus fraternity party. Both Turner and the woman drank heavily at the party and the woman was unconscious. In a statement made to the judge, Turner said that “drinking” and “party culture” fueled his actions. He also maintained that his victim had consented to their sexual encounter.

The woman, known only as “Emily Doe,” vociferously refuted his claims in a powerful letter.

“Future reference, if you are confused about whether a girl can consent, see if she can speak an entire sentence,” she said. “Alcohol is not an excuse. Is it a factor? Yes. But alcohol was not the one who stripped me, fingered me, had my head dragging against the ground, with me almost fully naked … We were both drunk, the difference is I did not take off your pants and underwear, touch you inappropriately, and run away. That’s the difference.”

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Victim-blaming?

Pamela Anderson has faced backlash for using what some see as victim-blaming language in reference to women who have spoken out against Harvey Weinstein.

In a conversation with Megyn Kelly on Megyn Kelly Today, Anderson said that she “learned” not to place herself in situations where she would be at risk. “Don’t go into a hotel room alone,” Anderson added. “If someone answers a door in a bathrobe, leave. It’s these things that are common sense. But I know that Hollywood is very seductive, and that people want to be famous. Sometimes you think you’re going to be safe with an adult in the room. I don’t know where this security comes from. But I dodged it all.”

Anderson also said that she found Weinstein “very intimidating” during an encounter she had with him, and was not surprised to learn about the allegations against the disgraced producer. “I think it was common knowledge that certain producers and certain people in Hollywood are people to avoid. Privately,” she said. “You know what you’re getting into if you go to a hotel room alone.”

Anderson, who earlier this year declared herself an “anti-feminist,” was swiftly condemned for suggesting that Weinstein’s victims were at fault, with critics pointing out that Anderson is herself a victim of multiple instances of violent sexual abuse. But in a statement posted to Instagram, Anderson did not retract the opinions she expressed to Kelly.

Re- My interview on #todayshow #megynkelly Somebody had to say this. Please don’t worry. Refer people to my blog and long standing commitment to defending the vulnerable. We have the power to be safe and free by using common sense. My message is consistent throughout- I'm a deep thinker / I have a unique perspective. and consequence is part of my life. This is great. I am also an advocate for men. I just don't agree with it all. Backlash is good. – I like this. My position is not 'problematic' because I doesn't fall in line with the common herd or trend. I'm trying to tell women as a survivor of childhood abuse myself – It is important to be proactive as an adult who knows better – in defending themselves. Don't get in cars with strangers #rideresponsibly- Don't go to Hotel rooms alone for an audition. Women are powerful and smart and we can use all our charms in more positive ways. I think it’s very smart to be proactive. And I stand by what I say. My mother taught me – protect yourself. Especially with my ‘image’’ – she and I were worried it could give people wrong Impression. I am not an easy girl and have not had as many partners people might think. I believe in love and commitment and common sense. This is why I'm usually married. It is how I feel safe and protected in a sexual relationship. .A monogamous lover is the best and most brave lover there is. I only want intimate sexual experiences – where I can be free to give my wildest fantasies to someone who loves me. and never have used sex as a weapon. It's just too easy. #bestrong #staysafe #noblame @todayshow #solutions #nodrama

A post shared by The Pamela Anderson Foundation (@pamelaanderson) on

“My message is consistent throughout,” she wrote. “I’m a deep thinker / I have a unique perspective. and consequence is part of my life. This is great. I am also an advocate for men. I just don’t agree with it all. Backlash is good. — I like this. My position is not ‘problematic’ because I doesn’t fall in line with the common herd or trend. I’m trying to tell women as a survivor of childhood abuse myself — It is important to be proactive as an adult who knows better — in defending themselves. Don’t get in cars with strangers #rideresponsibly — Don’t go to Hotel rooms alone for an audition. Women are powerful and smart and we can use all our charms in more positive ways. I think it’s very smart to be proactive. And I stand by what I say.”

Anderson also noted her “long standing commitment to defending the vulnerable,” which is perhaps a reference to accused rapist Julian Assange, whom she has passionately defended.

On of our commenters on Facebook made an interesting observation about Anderson’s remarks. What do you think about Anderson’s perspective on the issue. Vote in our poll below.

Read the full story at The Hollywood Reporter.

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Trade-off

Women at New Delhi colleges score better, on average, than men on entrance exams. And yet many female students choose to attend second-rate colleges. As Quartz reports, Brown University economist Girija Borker has proffered an explanation for this perplexing trend: women in New Delhi will choose lower-ranking colleges in order to avoid sexual predators.

Sexual assault and harassment are a rampant problem in New Delhi, which has been dubbed the “rape capital” of India. Gender-motivated crimes became a topic of heated discussion throughout India after a female student in Delhi was fatally gang-raped on a bus in 2012 — and it is perhaps unsurprising that Borker’s research found that female students do not feel safe commuting on buses.

Borker surveyed 2,700 Delhi students who live at home and commute to university each day. Auto rickshaws and the metro were more popular sources of transportation for women than the bus, even in cases when taking the bus offered the fastest route. Men, however, were more likely to travel by bus than women.

“I don’t know if it’s a perception that the metro is safer, maybe it is,” Payal Sharma, who attended the prestigious Lady Shri Ram College in Lajpat Nagar, told Quartz. “But good connectivity by metro was the first thing I checked for when I got in.”

Borker also sought to determine how routes of perceived safety inform a woman’s college choice. As Quartz explains, she used Google Maps to develop “an algorithm to generate as many as 12 plausible routes for each school. She then took those routes and assigned them a safety score based on data from the mobile applications Safetipin and Safecity.” The results, according to Borker’s analysis, suggest that while men who do well on entrance exams seek out top-ranking schools, women often opt for schools that are accessible via relatively safe routes.

Borker’s study does not necessarily prove that commute determines a woman’s choice of college. It does, however, suggest that there is a correlation between these two factors, which may in turn have broad implications for India. As Borker writes in her paper, “the global labor force participation rate for women is 26.7 percentage points lower than the rate for men in 2017 and the largest gender gap in participation rates is faced by women in emerging countries. The results of this paper suggest that street harassment could help explain part of this gender gap.”

Read more at Quartz.

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Remarkable

A woman from Texas with a transplanted uterus has given birth, marking a watershed medical success in the United States.

The New York Times reports that the mother was born without a uterus and received the organ from a living donor last year at the Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas. And at Baylor last month, she gave birth to a baby boy via caesarian section.

It is the first time that a child has been born to a woman with a transplanted uterus in the United States. But another eight women who had uterus transplants have given birth since 2014 — all of them at the Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Sweden, which pioneered the procedure, according to The Washington Post.

Uterine transplants have been hailed as potentially life-altering for women who do not have a uterus, either because they were born without one, or because they had to have it removed due to cancer, complications from childbirth, or other health issues. The fact that the transplant procedure was successfully reproduced in the U.S. is an important step forward, according to doctors who have worked on the surgery.

“To make the field grow and expand and have the procedure come out to more women, it has to be reproduced,” Dr. Liza Johannesson, a uterus transplant surgeon who left the Swedish hospital to assist with the recent birth at Baylor, told the Times.

The Baylor team has been working to advance the procedure, experimenting with donated uteri that did not come from family members. American doctors have also shortened the time between a woman’s transplant surgery and the start of in vitro fertilization, a fertility treatment that uterine transplant patients require to conceive, since their ovaries do not connect to the uterus.

Clinical trials at Baylor have seen eight women receive a transplanted uterus. In four of those cases, the transplants failed and the uterus had to be removed. Two patients are trying to conceive, and another is pregnant.

The transplants are intended to be temporary, so patients do not have to take the immune-suppressing drugs that prevent organ rejection for a prolonged period of time. Doctors leave the transplanted uteri in place only until the recipients have given birth to a child, perhaps two. There are, of course, risks associated with the surgeries, for both the donor and the recipient. But to date, the procedure has helped nine women become mothers — something that would have been impossible just a few years ago. Doctors have not revealed the identity of the mother, but they did note that the donor is a 36-year-old nurse who has two children.

Appearing on CBS This Morning on Monday, Dr. Tara Narula spoke about the hope this medical feat brings to thousands of American women who are unable to conceive because of similar conditions. She also explains the complicated process of achieving a pregnancy after a woman undergoes a uterus transplant. Watch below.

Baylor University Medical Center was also excited about the news of this new bundle of joy and posted a video on Facebook that has amassed more than 150,000 views. Watch it below.

Read more at The New York Times and The Washington Post.

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