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Vice Media’s Culture Of Sexual Harassment And Abuse Has Finally Been Exposed

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Photo by Mark Sagliocco for Getty

This is just the tip of the iceberg

Following in the steps of its Louis C.K. exposé and its Weinstein exposé before that, the New York Times has released an in-depth look at the long, disturbing history of sexual harassment allegations at Vice. The media company had long been rumored to foster a negative work environment for women, and it had drawn collective ire earlier this year, when it was revealed that Mitchell Sutherland, an editor of it’s female-centric offshoot, Broadly, had once written neo-Nazi blogger Milo Yiannopoulos telling him to “please mock this fat feminist” in regards to a column by Lindy West. But truly, as Times reporter Emily Steel reveals, that was just the tip of the iceberg.

According to the Times, over the years Vice has had many allegations of sexual harassment leveled against many of its most prominent employees. The company has long covered up the problem with wads of cash, and has reached four settlements regarding the allegations. One of those settlements—for $135,000, to be exact—was paid to an employee who claimed that she was fired after she rejected an “intimate relationship” with Vice’s president Andrew Creighton. Another woman claimed her supervisor “retaliated against her after they had a sexual relationship.” Another reached a $24,000 settlement with the company who said she had been the target of sexual harassment and racial discrimination. According to the Times, she claimed that a producer "had made racist and sexist statements to her, including asking about the color of her nipples and whether she slept with black men.” The final settlement was in regards to an incident in which Vice allegedly “defamed a female writer by publishing that she had agreed to have sex with a rapper whom she had interviewed, when she had not.”

And those are just the settlements actually reached. The Times goes on to report that over two dozen women at Vice had “experienced or witnessed sexual misconduct at the company — unwanted kisses, groping, lewd remarks and propositions for sex.” Despite its progressive front and young employees, it was revealed that the company is just as toxic as anything seen as being establishment. “The misogyny might look different than you would have expected it to in the 1950s, but it was still there, it was still ingrained,” said Kayla Ruble, a former employee.

Naturally, Vice is already scrambling to do damage control. Yesterday co-founders Shane Smith and Suroosh Alvi released a conciliatory statement to its employees:

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 inclusive workplace where everyone, especially women, can feel respected and thrive. Cultural elements from our past, dysfunction and mismanagement were allowed to flourish unchecked. That includes a detrimental ‘boy’s club’ culture that fostered 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 statement goes on to say that Vice has plans to improve its workplace, including setting up an anonymous hotline where employees can report misconduct. However, considering the allegations against Vice go back at least as far as 2003, it begs the question as to why they’ve just started “listening to [their] employees over the past year.” With the world of media already in a tumultuous state, only time will tell if this newfound attention is too little, too late.

Beyond this essential Times article, writer Robyn Kanner has started a thread on Twitter in which she is anonymously tweeting things Vice employees have sent her about the company's toxic work culture. It is a necessary read because it reminds us that for every article written in which brave sources come forward with their stories of abuse, there are countless other victims who can not risk sharing their stories publicly. But that doesn't mean there aren't more stories. It just means we're only scratching the surface of these sordid stories of systemic abuse.

Cara Delevingne, Ashley Benson, and Agyness Deyn also star

Elisabeth Moss is trying to keep it together as punk rock artist Becky Something in the trailer for forthcoming movie Her Smell. She's surrounded by iconic faces who make up her band Something She, Gayle Rankin as Ali van der Wolff and Agyness Deyn as Marielle Hell, as she grapples with the fact that her musical prowess just doesn't draw as big a crowd as it used to.

In addition to the wavering fame, Becky is "grappling with motherhood, exhausted bandmates, nervous record company executives, and a new generation of rising talent eager to usurp her stardom," according to a press release. "When Becky's chaos and excesses derail a recording session and national tour, she finds herself shunned, isolated and alone. Forced to get sober, temper her demons, and reckon with the past, she retreats from the spotlight and tries to recapture the creative inspiration that led her band to success." And what's clear from the trailer, Moss is absolutely meant for this role, transforming into the punk on the brink of collapse.

Rounding out the cast are Ashley Benson, Cara Delevingne, and Dan Stevens. Watch the official trailer, below. Her Smell hits theaters on April 12 in New York and 14 in L.A., with "national expansion to follow."

Her Smell | OFFICIAL TRAILER HD www.youtube.com

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Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

In an acceptance speech at the BRIT Awards

As The 1975 accepted the BRIT Award for Best British group, outspoken frontman Matty Healy shared the words of journalist Laura Snapes as a way of calling out misogyny that remains ever-present in the music industry. Healy lifted a powerful quote from Snapes' coverage of allegations against Ryan Adams for The Guardian: "Male misogynist acts are examined for nuance and defended as traits of 'difficult' artists, [while] women and those who call them out are treated as hysterics who don't understand art."

Snapes reacted almost immediately on Twitter, saying she was "gobsmacked, and honoured that he'd use his platform to make this statement." Snapes had originally written the line for an interview she published with Sun Kil Moon singer Mark Kozelek back in 2015, in response to Kozelek publicly calling her a "bitch" who "totally wants to have my babies" because she requested to speak in person rather than via e-mail, which she brought up in the more recent piece on Adams. Kozelek's vile response, and the misogyny that allowed it to play out without real consequences, it could be argued, could have easily played out in the same way in 2019, which makes her reiteration of the line, and Healy's quoting it on such a large platform, all the more important.

It should be noted that back in December, Healy caught a bit of heat himself on Twitter for an interview with The Fader in which he insinuated that misogyny was an issue exclusive to hip-hop, and that rock 'n' roll had freed itself of it. He clarified at length on Twitter and apologized, saying, "I kinda forget that I'm not very educated on feminism and misogyny and I cant just 'figure stuff out' in public and end up trivializing the complexities of such enormous, experienced issues."