Parker: Well, good morning everybody. I’m Kathleen Parker. I’m a columnist for The Washington Post. I think Gretchen Carlson needs no introduction. She’s the former FOX TV anchor who successfully sued Roger Ailes for sexual harassment. She’s also a former Miss America; she’s a world-class violinist; she was an Honors student at Stanford University; and if she weren’t such a nice person, I would hate her right now.
Carlson: Well, thank you, Kathleen.
Parker: I think I heard Tina Brown the other day recognize you as the person who has kind of started this movement, the groundswell of support, as well as a lot of people coming out and speaking up about the experiences they’ve had in the workplace, mostly women, but also men.
Just this last 24 hours, the #MeToo has taken off on Facebook, and women—or would that be Twitter?
Carlson: Both, but yeah, primarily Twitter, but also on Facebook.
Parker: But, Gretchen, speak to what you sense going on right now in this country and in the culture in terms of—are we at a tipping point?
Carlson: So, I’m incredibly optimistic with where we are 15 months after I jumped off the cliff and into the abyss, not knowing what would lay below it all. And, as horrific as the revelations are coming out of Hollywood, I’m optimistic that this is the tipping point, that this is the watershed moment that we’ve been waiting for. Women have been waiting for this for a long time.
But, it’s also proof that the work that I’ve been doing over the last 15 months to draw attention to this issue, and specifically, here on Capitol Hill, to try and change laws, to take the silence out of sexual harassment that—we’re here. We’re here.
And, one of the most important factors is that men are on board now, too, and we need you. We need you so much to help us with this mission.
Parker: I should have mentioned in my introductory remarks that we’re really here to launch Gretchen’s new book, just FYI, called Be Fierce.
Carlson: Thank you.
Parker: #BeFierce as well, and even though she and I are going to do most of the talking, we will take some Twitter questions throughout, and you can tweet to #BeFierce, and we’ll take a few questions that way periodically throughout our conversation.
Gretchen, I think most women are curious to know how you found the guts to come out. Here you are at FOX News; you’re an extremely successful anchorwoman; you had everything to lose; and yet you were willing to take on really one of the biggest men in broadcast media. How did you do that? Finding the courage to speak up is very difficult for most women, and yet you did. What was it that prompted you to go forward and do it?
Carlson: Courage, I think, is a building process; it’s not something that you just turn a light switch on and say, I think I’m going to do that tomorrow. First and foremost, I think it’s the way I which we’re raised. I was lucky enough to have parents who told me I could be anything I wanted to be on a daily basis, and I think that really gave me the courage to take on every challenge in life and every goal with an incredible amount of tenacity. So, I fall back on how I was raised, really.
Parker: But that’s you, because you are—
Carlson: Well, but just let me finish about how—fast forward all those years later, where I’m making this monumental decision, probably the most important professional decision of my life, that when I realized that a career that I had built over 27 years was coming to an end, and not because of my choice, I decided that if I wasn’t going to be the one to stand up and do it, and take on this issue, who was?
And, I was thinking primarily about our next generation of young girls and young boys. I have a 12-year-old son and a 14-year-old daughter, and I didn’t want them or anyone else in that generation to face the same indignities that I was facing. And that was really the decision to jump.
Parker: So, tell us about all the support you got over at FOX from your colleagues.
Carlson: [LAUGHS] Well, I can’t talk about that, but I can say that you find out who your friends are when you go through an experience like this.
Parker: So, one of the big problems for women who do come forward is, number one, they’re not believed, and you address that in your book—or at least they fear they will not be believed.
Carlson: Most of the time they’re not believed.
Parker: Most of the time they’re not believed. Okay. And part of that is, what? It’s because sexual harassment is so subjective?
Carlson: No, well, it can be subjective, but also because in 2017 we still shroud this in secrecy. We’re really fooling ourselves in a culture to believe that we’ve come so far on this issue, and one of the reasons that we think that we have is because we don’t really hear about these cases, or at least before mine, we didn’t. But the reason we’re not hearing about them is because sexual harassment is resolved usually in one of two ways: either settlements that shut up women. They can never, ever talk about what happened to them, and in many cases the perpetrators still work in the same place. Or number two, you’re forced into arbitration instead of an open jury process, and these clauses are becoming prevalent in employee contracts all across America.
And what does that mean? Arbitration is also secret. So, hypothetically, let’s say you’re facing sexual harassment in the workplace; you file a claim; you’re put into secret arbitration. Only 20% of the time does the employee actually win in those situations. You don’t get the same amount of witnesses, not the same kind of depositions, and there are no appeals, and nobody ever finds out that you did this. No one. And the perpetrator can still stay working and harassing.
So, this is how we’re fooling our culture into thinking, “Wow! We don’t hear about sexual harassment cases anymore.” But those are the two big reasons why you’re not hearing about them. And that’s why I am so proud that women are saying, “Enough already. We are going to come out and we are going to talk about this, and we’re going to put our faces and our names to this issue once and for all.”
Carlson: Enough already. There’s a lot of hashtags out there.
Parker: I want to quickly ask you to focus a minute. One of the interesting things in the book, I thought, was when you say that a lot of people in the workplace would think, “Well, I’ll go to HR—Human Resources—and tell them what’s happened to me, and they’ll of course come to my assistance,” but that’s not necessarily so. And you talk about that in your book. Tell us a little bit more about that.
Carlson: I think you have to remember—well, first of all I want to say that there are tons of good people in human resources departments, and I’ve heard from a lot of them, and they really do—
Parker: Yes, this is nothing against HR, by the way.
Carlson: Yeah, it’s not. They really do want to help, and I want to make sure that I say that, because I’ve heard from so many of them. However, I think you need to realize and understand that people in those departments, where are they getting their paychecks from? You have to understand that if the harasser happens to be somebody who’s in charge of paying these people, who are they going to side with?
So, I advocate in Be Fierce that we should try out a new system, so that women feel more compelled to come forward, and so that the enabling stops by other people within the corporation as well, that they also feel empowered to come forward.
So, here are couple of ideas. I think that companies should have an ombudsman of sorts who is an independent contractor, where the people would feel completely comfortable going to them, he or she, because they know that they are not technically working inside of the company. And also, I think we need to change the way in which we do sexual harassment training. So much focuses on what is harassment, and that’s fine, but I think we also need to amp it up to talk about bystanders becoming allies. Because so much of the reason that sexual harassment is pervasive is that other people who see it within the workplace are scared also to come forward, because they don’t want to lose their jobs.
I chronicle in the book men who were brave enough to come forward on behalf of women—and you know what happened to them? They were fired. So, we really need to increase the training about how do we let bystanders feel comfortable enough to come forward? Imagine if the leader of a company would give his whole—he or she, get the whole group together, but predominantly it’s still men running Fortune 500 companies—get them all together and say, “From the top down, we’re not accepting this in our company, and, in fact, we’re going to celebrate people who come forward. We’re going to celebrate the bystander who sees it and comes forward.”
Imagine how that would change the dynamic of where we are right now, where it’s like, “Hush, hush. She’s a problem. She can’t take a joke,” and the enabler also fears coming forward. I think that that changes the entire dynamic.
Parker: You make a good point there, but also, when you talk about the joke, for example. People like me have a high tolerance for jokes that may be offensive to some others, and that’s because I was raised by a man; I was raised in a man’s world; and I’ve always worked in a newsroom, and it’s traditionally a pretty bawdy place. So, you learn to just kind of roll with the punches and not take things too terribly seriously. And a lot of people would say—particularly men—that somehow this sexual harassment issue has become a little too sensitive, in terms of, nobody can feel like they can just relax and occasionally make a remark that may not be perfection in women’s—
Carlson: Well, I’ve worked in a newsroom for 27 years. The F-bomb is every other word.
Parker: But that’s not sexual harassment.
Carlson: Sorry, Mom and Dad, I have also used it myself. My first chapter in the book is, “Are You Done Taking S-H You Know What?” So, that is different from being sexually harassed. It’s pretty obvious in most cases. The thousands of women who reached out to me after my story broke with their stories, it was pretty obvious that they were being sexually harassed. And here’s the undersold part of the whole, entire story.
People want to hear all the salacious details of what they said to you and whether or not they showed you porn, or they drew pictures of their genitalia in front of you, or whatever the case may be—but the real story is the retaliation that happens after you rebuff the advances. And that’s the undersold part of the story. What happens to women after they do come forward? They’re demoted. They’re left out of prime assignments. Eventually, many are fired. And of all the women that I’ve spoken to—thousands—and responded to all of them, to stay strong. Most of them are never again going to work in their chosen career path. That’s crazy. That’s absolutely crazy.
So, as much as I can take a joke, too—that’s not what this is about.
Parker: But you do say that sexual harassment doesn’t necessarily have to be sexual. What do you mean by that?
Carlson: I mean that it can be any kind of commentary. It doesn’t have to be literally asking you for sex. It’s about demeaning; it’s about calling you certain names, that you can’t hang out with the boys. And also, sexual harassment’s really about power. Not always is it about actually having sex. It’s about a paradigm of power that’s completely out of whack when you are the female employee who has not power in the situation, and the man, who is potentially your boss, has all the power. That’s really what it’s about.
Parker: So, when you and I were speaking earlier—one of the things Gretchen has pointed out in the book, and that was really surprising to me, is that there are so many incidents of sexual harassment, and it is a power play often, but it’s also made to—women feel demeaned in certain circumstances. I said to Gretchen, “Well, I’ve never been sexually harassed. I don’t even actually have this experience,” and then as we talked, I clearly had, and I even remembered one instance that I’d completely blocked out that was very specific and directed toward me, very aggressively sexual, and I did, in fact, get this person fired, sort of surprisingly. This was about 15, 16 years ago.
Anyway, one of the stories I told her, and she asked me to tell you this, so that’s why I’m going to take the microphone for a minute—I was between newspaper jobs, and I had taken a writing position with a public relations firm. I was the science writer. There were actually two of us; one was a man, a Muslim man, and I was the other. So, one of the fun things that they did in this little boutique firm was, they liked to bring in strippers for the executives’ birthday parties at the office. It might be nine o’clock in the morning; we’re having our first cup of coffee, and in comes this poor woman with her little tape recorder—this was before we all had iPhones and Pandora and all that—and the guy sits in a chair, and she starts dancing, and it was just horrible. It was embarrassing on one level, but it was also, I felt so sorry for this woman, because this was clearly not the best part of her day.
But anyway, I left, and they didn’t mind that I left. I came back the next day. After that, every time there was a birthday they would do the same thing. The receptionist was in charge of setting these things up; she thought it was just a hoot. And so, in the future, they just said, “Look, you don’t have to come to work. We’re going to have another stripper.” And I said, “Fine, I won’t come to work,” and the fellow—I won’t say his name, because it would be easily recognized, I’m afraid—but he also would not attend these things because it was against his religion and his values.
So, one day, after we’d missed the stripper the boss calls us into the conference room for a staff meeting and he puts up on the projector, a video of the stripping episode. And I thought, “Okay, so I didn’t come to work because I didn’t want to see this and because it was humiliating, and now they’re going to make me sit here and watch?” So, I got up and left again, and my male colleague also got up and left.
So, anyway, that was a clear case of sexual harassment, even though I didn’t really at the time recognize it for what it was, but the way it worked as that they gave me the option of leaving, but this was still an environment in which I had to work, knowing that demeaning women and putting them in this sort of horrible, subservient situation was part of the culture. I wish I had walked out. I needed the money and I needed the job, and so I didn’t say a thing.
Carlson: So, a couple of points here. First of all, I’m so sorry that you had to experience that. Does anything think that’s subjective? I mean, pretty clear cut sexual harassment, atrocious, outrageous, even if it was 15 years ago.
But the second thing is, this is what happens to women and men when they go through this. Kathleen wasn’t even acknowledging in her own heart and mind that this is sexual harassment, that this is what’s happened to her, because what we’ve done is, we’ve normalized this in our culture. And imagine if one person there besides the two of you, who luckily got—
Parker: The woman and the Muslim.
Carlson: But, imagine if somebody else there had said, “This is absolutely outrageous,” they would have stopped it cold. And that’s my whole point about bystanders taking action. But I bet you’ve had other experiences in your life—in fact, I know you have—where you were also sexually harassed, but you’ve compartmentalized it.
Parker: Yeah, a hands-on situation, and I just thought, “Whatever, you’re an idiot,” but I should have said something stronger than that and stood up for myself. But I didn’t.
Carlson: But you’re talking about it now, and now the world and the nation is talking about it.
Parker: And you say every woman has a story.
Carlson: Every woman a story. I think that was one of the most surprising revelations for me after my story broke was that I started getting all these emails from thousands of women across the country. And I started printing them off in my home office, and they started becoming stacks of paper, and I was, like, oh my gosh—I need to do something with this.
But the most startling fact was that it came from every profession. It wasn’t just Wall Street bankers or journalists or newspaper writers; it was waitresses; it was accountants; it was teachers; it was flights attendants, a lot of those. It was women in female-dominated industries, like retail, like magazine publishing. It was everywhere. And I decided, because of the way my parents raised me, and they always encouraged me to write handwritten thank you notes to people, that I needed to respond to these women.
And so I started responding to all of them. And the predominant thing that they wrote back to me was, “Thank you for being the voice for the voiceless. I’ve never told anybody my story.” In many cases, they had never told their husbands. And, “Thank you.” Thank you for speaking out about this, because through your story we feel victorious, even though our stories didn’t end up well at all.
And that’s when I knew that I had a duty in front of me to dedicate this book to those women whose stories were never told; women who are never working again in their profession. Their American dream was stripped away from them. And I knew I had to tell their stories, and move the needle forward about how we can improve the situation for our next generation.
Parker: And you’ve make the point that in order to improve the situation, men need to be very much involved. I wonder if this might be easier, going forward, and just because it’s somewhat generational, it seems to me that the sort of cultural touchstones that Roger Ailes had, that our President has, that we can get to him in a minute, Bill Cosby, and others—it’s a certain generation. It’s part of that Playboy and the ’60s, where everything goes—
Carlson: Yeah, but I’d argue that it’s in our young people—look at the tech world. I’d argue that it’s still there. I think it’s a little bit of an excuse, like the Harvey Weinsteins of the world to say, “Well, you know, I was still entrenched in the sixties and seventies.” That’s just a big, huge, you-know-what excuse. I mean, I know my grandfathers did not treat my grandmothers that way, and that was in the twenties and thirties. And I know my father didn’t treat my mother that way, so I don’t buy that as an excuse.
Parker: No, not as an excuse, just, I think there’s a greater awareness now, but at the same time, you make a really good point about your grandfather and your father. When I was in college, I was at Florida State in the seventies—yes, I’m that old—and we had some problems on campus with nonstudents coming onto the campus and I think maybe there had been a rape or something, and so the fraternities actually were the good guys on campus. And they set up an escort service. If a girl had to walk from the library to the parking lot, which was a long way away, you could call up one of these hotlines for the fraternities and they would send someone to walk you to your car to make sure you were safe. So, that culture was a different sort of culture than what we now think of, when the fraternities often are the places where some of these awful incidents take place.
But, you’ve cited some heroes in your book, and before I let her answer this or talk about this, I would like to let Jessie [ph] know that I have lost the Twitter feed, and so maybe you’d like to come out and set this up again for me.
But, you were talking about the men who are stepping forward and doing very important work—tell us about a couple of those.
Carlson: Yeah, so, in researching the book I started talking to a lot of men who reached out to me. There were men who—and it didn’t matter what political side of the fence they were on—they reached out and said this is wrong, what happened to you, and we support you. And I ended up writing an entire chapter in the book about men, men who defend. It ended up being the longest chapter in the book because there are so many men out there already doing great work to not only publicly defend women on these issues, but it’s their job. They actually go into corporations and teach employees how to better respect women in the workplace, and show that when you do that, the bottom line actually increases.
And so, I actually believe sexual harassment is a men’s issue more than a women’s issue. The burden of sexual harassment should not—fixing it should not be only on the shoulders of women. It’s actually how we decide to raise our boys. How do we decide to raise them from a young age to respect their moms and their sisters, so that when they get into the workplace they respect their female colleagues in the same way in which they were raised? I think that’s crucial, and it’s why the chapter that follows “Men Who Defend” is “How We Parent.” Our kids are watching us. They’re hearing everything. And whether you’re married or you’re a single parent or you have a partner, whatever the case may be, those relationships, that’s what our kids are seeing and if they’re not seeing respect towards women, then that’s what they’re learning.
So for me, it really starts at home and just in being introspective myself in the past 15 months, I’ve changed the way in some small instances, the way I’m raising my kids at home and what I’m saying and a cute little thing with my 14-year-old daughter where in the morning, I said, “Hey, guys. We’ve got to get ready to go to school.” And she goes, “Mom, I’m not a guy.” [LAUGHTER] And I was like, “Okay, I never even thought about that. It’s a Midwestern term to call everyone guys and”—
Parker: I do that, too.
Carlson: But when you think about it, it’s really not that big of a deal but it’s interesting that she picked up on that. So everything you say, our kids are listening to.
Parker: I think that’s so important. My sons—I have three sons and they all witnessed their father, who is a very kind of classic southern gentleman. And they know how he treats his mother; they know how he treats me. And I hope that that is translated into their personal relationships with women. But all you have to do to get men on board is remind them that their daughters will be the people in those workplaces at some point and they have to stand up for them. It sounds like we’re picking on men.
Carlson: We’re not.
Parker: We’re not picking on men. Because in fact, women are also sometimes their own worst enemy. Because you talk about that, too, where women sometimes will just not step forward and not help their female colleagues because they are sort of proud of the fact that they are guy-girls. I’ve always been a proud guy-girl, meaning and I can get along with guys and I can roll with the punches and I’m not highly sensitive. I probably should have been a little bit more because I’m actually part of the problem by kind of rolling along with things that are inappropriate.
Carlson: Women get trapped in this conundrum because fewer women make it to higher levels within companies. Once they get there, they’re very protective of the turf, I think. So that can be part of the issue. Women are like, “Well, okay, I need to kind of side with the guys because I got to this level and so sometimes that means that I’m not always going to protect the women who are below me. You get into this conundrum of sorts. So how do you fix that? The obvious answer is you put more women in higher positions. So that you don’t feel like you have to be so protective of your area. But again, it gets back to the enabler point, too.
One of my favorite quotes is, “One woman can make a difference, but together, we can rock the world.” And if we would all decide collectively that we’re not going to take this crap anymore, men and women, it would just make a huge difference. Look at what’s happened after the Harvey Weinstein story. So many women put their names and faces out there and it started this avalanche where every day, more people came forward and men came out and supported those actions, too. It’s crucial.
Parker: But you can see how some people would see that as, “Oh, for heaven’s sake.” You gut where you got because you were willing to put up with that and now, it’s easy to say, “Oh, well, this happened way back when. Why didn’t you do something at the time? Why didn’t you just say, “I’m sorry. We’re done here.” And walk out the door.
Carlson: Well, that’s the number one question that I get and that is one of the biggest myths out there. So you’ve killed yourself to get to your career and this is happening to you and you’re going to come forward knowing that you’re going to be labeled a troublemaker and a B-I-T-C-H and that you just can’t take a joke. You might get fired. You’re going to come forward in that environment? Talk about not being in somebody else’s shoes, but thinking you’ve got the whole problem solved by just easily saying, “Well, why didn’t you come forward before?” As I said earlier, courage is a building process. It is not something where you just switch on the light and say, “Wow, I’m going to do this.”
And strong women, I think, believe they can fix the problem on their own. Because in general, women have to work a little bit harder to get to where they are. So we’re used to beating our heads against a brick wall and I think that believe that if we work just a little bit harder and show them who we really are, they’ll finally recognize us for our brains and our talents and they’ll stop treating us in a demeaning way. So sometimes, I think being strong can almost be not a great attribute when you find yourself in one of these situations.
Parker: Well, one of the first questions that came to me was you’re in a certain socioeconomic class. The women in Hollywood are certainly in a certain economic class. They’re privileged from birth by virtue of their—they’re blessed with looks, they’re blessed with talent and they’ve had big lives. How do you relate this? How does the single mom with two children and two jobs, how does she relate to what you’re talking about? What’s in it for her? She has no place to turn.
Carlson: And that was the question, Kathleen that gnawed at me for a lot of restless nights after my story broke was, “How do I help that single mom who can’t afford literally to come forward?” And I started the Gift of Courage Fund as a result of that. Where I’m financially supporting organizations that empower women, girls, and boys. And an outreach of that that was just announced last week is that I’m starting and funding the Gretchen Carlson Leadership Initiative, which is a nine-city tour kicking off next month in Dallas-Fort Worth, three days of workshops in each city for underserved women. For free, they can come and go to workshops on domestic violence, sexual harassment, and how to become more civically and politically involved in their community.
Because what tends to happen to any woman who is a victim of domestic violence or sexual harassment is that they believe they don’t have a voice regarding anything in life because they’ve been silenced and shut down in being a victim and also, I want to provide them with information about how to be able to go to a lawyer.
Parker: Well, I was going to say, what they need are lawyers and seminars.
Carlson: Exactly. So I believe that in starting this initiative, that it’s the beginning stages of being able to answer that question and provide a solution for women who do not have the means or the notoriety to have their cases heard in public.
Parker: We’re going to take a Twitter question now, just so that I can say I did that. [LAUGHTER] This is from @WCarter. This person asks, “How do we get media to treat this issue differently and does the media need to make changes in its own approach to sexual harassment?” You’re a media person, what do you think?
Carlson: [LAUGHTER] Well, I do believe that there wasn’t a lot of media attention on my story and, of course, there’s been a huge amount of attention on the Harvey Weinstein story as of late. But yes, the more the merrier, right? The more that we can get this issue out there and start a national dialogue, which I believe has already started.
Parker: It sounds like.
Carlson: Yeah, I believe that as we—
Parker: But what about timing? I know this is not something to celebrate but having this—I can’t say his name.
Parker: Weinstein. I keep coming up with other variations on that. This Weinstein story popping up just as your book hits bookstores tomorrow. So it couldn’t be better timing in terms of building momentum to this conversation and having you already in place to address it directly. But in Weinstein’s case, again, this was a situation where many people knew about this and they didn’t say anything and would it not be possible to assume that the women who went to him and felt—well, of course, his sexual harassment was so overt and so disgusting. I think everybody here is familiar with what he is alleged to have done. We are news people, so “alleged” stays in place until we have something legal that we can say.
But anyway [ph], the allegations against him are so profoundly revolting and so with all of this sort of in circulation, people kind of knew about it. Wouldn’t these young women kind of have a sense that they were stepping into the lion’s den and be prepared one way or another to respond?
Carlson: I don’t know. I’m not going to speak for any of them to know that they knew what was going on. If you’re a young actress—again, we’re putting it on the woman to have to try to figure out the dynamic. Any women going to have a meeting with Harvey Weinstein should not be subjected to any kind of repulsive behavior. That’s the bottom line.
Parker: But when he says, “This is just the way it is.”
Carlson: Well, it’s not the way it’s supposed to be. As far as why people kept that issue secret for that long, I cannot speak for his enablers.
Carlson: But let me tell you this: companies cover up for harassers. That’s the way it works right now and that is what we have to change. There’s no way that these types of allegations could be going there or elsewhere for that long without other people knowing about it.
Parker: Well, we go back to Anita Hill. This was the case when everybody was tuned in and watching and the things that she was relaying—she had a very difficult time. She was pretty much abused by the Judiciary Committee. Very all men, just hostile towards her and humiliated her, basically. How has she changed the culture? I’m sure you’ve interviewed her for your book but how did she get through her days? Because that was so public. Everybody was watching it in real-time and no women wants to put herself through something like that and that was on a much grander scale, obviously, but at least it was public.
Carlson: I don’t think that anyone believes that they are going to suddenly become the face of sexual harassment. I know I did not. And there are some mornings that I wake up and feel like I don’t really want to be the face of it. But because of the way in which I was raised and because I wear a bracelet that tells me to be fierce every single day and my life motto is “Carpe Diem,” I do seize every day and try to make a difference on this issue. With regard to Anita Hill, ironically, I talk about it in the book that my first job in television was in Virginia and one of the first stories I covered was the Anita Hill hearings. And I remember watching it at my desk and believing her and being shocked at the way that she was treated. Ironically—
Parker: So why did you believe her?
Carlson: Well, I believed her because I grew up never experiencing any kind of gender discrimination. I was a really serious violinist and in competitions, they didn’t give a rip if you were a boy or a girl. And so also, I excelled at school. I never felt any discrimination at school or gender bias. And so it’s not because I was naïve, but when I got to my first job, I was like, “Wow, women are not paid the same and they’re not treated equally.” And it was like my eyes were—it was unbelievable to me at 22 years old that that was happening because I had not experienced it. So I’m covering the Anita Hill hearings and so of course, I automatically believed her. Why wouldn’t I and her treatment was so disgusting.
But here’s the personal footnote to this story: it was right after I was covering that that I was sexually harassed on the job. So I was with my cameraman in a rural part of Virginia and we were covering a story and when we got back into the car together, he started asking me about how I had liked it when he touched my breasts when he was putting my microphone on. And it went downhill from there. And I remember—
Parker: Well, there’s a lot of that touching when you’re having to get miked in the green room, but you’re not supposed to say you enjoyed it. [LAUGHS]
Carlson: Well, and it went on from there, but the point of it is that there were no cellphones at this time and the sheer panic that women go through when you face something like that—I literally thought to myself about rolling outside of the passenger car door at 40 miles an hour like I’d seen people do in movies and wondering how much it would hurt if I would escape that way. And I got back to the newsroom and I was just a shaking mess. And luckily, my boss—a man, kept approaching me and saying, “What is wrong with you? What happened?” And I didn’t want to tell him either.
Carlson: Because I was new on the job, it was the whole shame thing that women go through. “What did I do to bring this on?” This is what women feel. This is how we’ve been socialized to feel about this and if it wasn’t for the tenacity of him, I don’t know what would have happened but I finally had the guts to tell him. How do we help young men understand how important this is and how serious it is? I’m pretty sure I’ve seen a number of male eyeballs rolling in my house when they’ve had to subject themselves, they would put it, to sexual harassment training. They’re not sexual harassers because they were raised to be gentlemen, but that may be the exception these days and if you tell young men who have grown up in a culture of porn online and the sort of, “Everybody just does whatever they want to do and get away with it.” And by the way, males and females, by my observation is that young men and women tend to segregate themselves and the girls go out as a group, the guys go out as a group. I don’t see a lot of this dating. Like the traditional dating that we grew up doing. How do you explain to a young man today other than the parent setting a good example?
Culturally, what do we have to do in order to show young men the proper way to be in the workplace. Because we’re talking about really the workplace. Let’s not say that—this doesn’t bleed out into personal relationships necessarily.
Carlson: Well, it can.
Parker: It can but I’m saying, “Let’s start with the workplace.” There’s an appropriate way to behave, both for men and for women, an appropriate way to dress. Although I’m not going to say that women because they dress provocatively invite sexual harassment. I would never say that because I know that I would get my little tush beaten when I walk. [LAUGHTER] But, indeed there are responsibly on both sides, but nonetheless, what’s your advice? What do we have to do culturally?
Carlson: So a couple of things. I interviewed a woman from the RAP Project in the book who talks a lot about how we’re raising our sons and girls with things like porn and with one in five women being assaulted on college campuses and what messages we’re sending to our young people. And she advocates that we have a discussion about porn with our kids early on and I have to say that I took her advice as I was writing this book and I sat both of my kids down independently. It was uncomfortable and especially with my son, who was maybe only 11 or 12 at the time and I asked him if he knew what it was and kind of he did, but I wanted to make sure that if he ever has an interest in looking at that, then we need to have more of a conversation about it and that that is not the way in which men treat women because those are not real love relationships. And then I’ve sat down with my 13 or 14-year-old daughter and had the same conversation. It was tough, but I advocate. Because when kids are watching porn at record levels—I think it’s 70 to 80% of all teenage boys. They are learning how to treat women by watching those depictions. Those are not real relationships. And then if we move onto the college campus, where women are being victimized as well, what are our boys learning there about how to treat women when they get into the workplace?
It’s why I plan to do a college campus tour with Be Fierce. I’m going to six colleges already to get to young people to give my message to them, because this message is not just for young girls. This message about being fierce is for our young boys, too.
Parker: Well, I think we are avoiding looking at the elephant in the room, which is the president of the United States, who has been accused by several women of groping or—
Carlson: More than—[OVERLAPPING]
Parker: But he’s trying to make this go away until after he’s no longer president. I guess it would be problematic to address that at great length since we have three minutes and 26 seconds.
Carlson: Oh, I can get to it.
Parker: [LAUGHTER] I would love to hear your thoughts.
Carlson: Yeah, so a couple of things. When the Access Hollywood tape came out before last summer and it was shortly after my story had broke, I think that that was a teachable moment for millions of parents across the country and that’s what I did. I showed that videotape to my kids and I said, “This is not how you treat a human being. And I don’t care what political policies you agree with: taxes, immigration. Who cares?” Sexual harassment is apolitical. When somebody harasses you, they don’t ask you what political party you’re in before they do it, and this is why we should all care and this is why human decency supersedes any political policy.
I talked to Natasha Stoynoff, who is one of Trump’s alleged victims in this book at length. She was the People magazine reporter and she shares her entire story in Be Fierce. I think it’s important to point out that a lot of those women who came forward and had the bravery to come forward, what happened soon after? We didn’t hear from them anymore. We went back to silencing them.
Parker: Well, except for that march, which I think came about as a result of that particular tape and other accusations. The women gathered by the tens of thousands here in Washington and marched, too, wearing their little pink hats. Lots of men also marched in there and so do you think that the whole country is somewhat complicit? As long as the person at the top, who is essentially the father figure of the country is allowed to—
Carlson: Or the mother figure, eventually. [LAUGHS] I firmly believe we will have a female president.
Parker: Well, until now, yes, the father figure. Well, maybe the mother figure can straighten this all out. What do you think? [LAUGHTER]
Parker: I do want to tell you, first of all, thank you so much for sharing your experiences and your insights. The book is really very good. I read this last night. I stayed up and turned every page and it’s very readable. It’s interesting. You’ll learn a lot. I’m not here to endorse it, but I do endorse it and I love that the proceeds from book sales will go into the Gretchen—
Carlson: The Gift of Courage Fund.
Parker: And to the Gift of Courage Fund. Correct, not Gretchen. But anyways, to help other women who need lawyers and advocates and just helping to be fierce.
Carlson: And thank you so much for having me. I will just end by saying that the time is now. You talk about the Women’s March. So women felt defeated in a sense, but I look at everything optimistically. And I say that the time is now and look what’s happening. It’s working. It’s working right now and if I had anything to do with that, then I’m immensely proud. So thank you for being part of the Be Fierce movement. I hope that you will join me in it and speak up and stand up, men and women alike. So thank you so much for having me here.
Parker: Thank you all. We appreciate your presence and your attention. [APPLAUSE] And thank you to our Twitter audience. I’m sorry we didn’t get to all of your questions, but maybe there will be another time.