Since the chief editor of the reality TV show “Big Brother” was kept on staff, despite being heard on live television telling a female contestant she has to “play with his penis between her breasts,” it must be at least pointed out that his was clearly a watershed moment, for the worse, and one that warrants an explanation.
It must be made clear that this is sexual harassment. By definition, specifically defined by the law: “A desecrating or derogatory attitude toward a person with regard to his or her sex, gender or sexuality.” The comment made by the editor in question is not denigrating coming from a person with whom you want to have a sexual relationship. From anyone else, it is forced sex − “even if the individual who was harassed did not indicate to the harasser that he or she was not interested in the proposal or the approach.”
It is sexual harassment because this is the model in which all sexual attacks and harassments happen: A man in authority, who has total access to and enjoys the trust of the victim, takes advantage of his power to force sexual actions or language on her.
In the case of the “Big Brother” editor, he is in an ultimate position of power: He sees and is not seen; he holds the position of a father, a priest, a therapist; he is the omnipotent one, who decides what happens to the people who have placed themselves in his hands − and he has surely promised them that those hands are trustworthy.
It is sexual harassment because the remark was made in a place where the editor, Yoram Zak, is the boss, the overlord. Even if the female contestant did not hear what he said, all the men and women working under him certainly have, thus turning the workplace into a hostile environment for women, and for some of the men as well. The attempt to separate between what can supposedly be said in a room, but cannot be said on television, is based on male morality − by which anything that makes men laugh is deemed humorous and anything that stimulates men is sexy and legitimate, no matter how violent it may be.
Indeed, the fraternity rallied around its tried and true territory: the right to sexually harass women as one of the privileges of the powerful class.
Editors and writers did not hesitate to publish how they too tell sexist jokes and look at pornography in their place of work. That is to say − how they, too, break the law. They, too, like Zak, understand that when a woman appears on a show like “Big Brother,” as with any workplace where a man is in charge, she is giving up not only her privacy (something which is true for men as well), but also the right and ownership of her own body.
Men constitute most of the people in charge, and the way they see women determines what it is that women can even be. Zak is the one who cast the female contestants on “Big Brother,” including their breasts. The CEO of the Keshet television franchise is the one who cast Zak to design his pornographic screen.
The law against sexual harassment states that “the employer must take reasonable steps ... to prevent sexual harassment or abuse by his employees or by supervisors appointed by him.” The employer in this case, Avi Nir, not only does nothing to prevent the sexual harassment, he creates the perfect conditions for it. And once it was exposed, not only did he neglect to “efficiently deal with the incident ... and do everything possible to prevent such incidents in the future and to correct the damage done,” rather he keeps the harasser who he appointed in a senior and lucrative position − allowing Zak to stay in charge of many hours of live programming, in which they will continue to abuse their power.
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