Former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson takes on workplace sexual harassment in her new book, Be Fierce: Stop Harassment and Take Your Power Back. According to the book, 70% of women who experience sexual harassment at their jobs don't report it. Carlson, whose allegations of sexual harassment against former Fox News chairman Roger Ailes ultimately led to his resignation, hopes to change this dire fact by empowering women to fight back.
In the book, you present a collection of stories from women who have been harassed in careers across industries and income levels. How did you decide which stories to include?
When I came forward, women started to email me to tell me their stories. The one message I got from all of them was that I became a voice for the voiceless on this issue. I tried to show the pervasiveness of sexual harassment in all industries. It was eye-opening to find it in every profession, advertising, politics, media, teachers, and flight attendants. It is everywhere.
Attorney Lisa Bloom told you, "Of all the women I know who have publicly complained, not one is working in her chosen career today." Was that a surprise?
That was one of the most real and shattering things I learned. In many cases, these women left their jobs and their chosen careers after coming forward. That is a crime. Think about all of the years that people have put into a profession, and they can't work there anymore because some random jerk took it away from them. A woman complains about a real issue, and suddenly she is the problem. What does that say about our culture? Why do we automatically turn on women?
Your book urges women to be fierce and to fight. What do you tell young people?
I am doing a college campus tour for the book because it is crucial to speak to women when they are young and just starting out. My goal is to let them know what to expect in the workplace and to empower them to be strong. You have to get the boys and men, too. I want to teach our boys to respect women at an early point as well.
You spent more than a decade at Fox, known for its conservative politics, yet this book is very progressive in many ways. How do you reconcile this?
I'm an independent. I have always been an advocate for women's rights. I don't look at sexual harassment politically. When a predator decides to sexually harass someone, they don't ask if they are a Democrat or a Republican. It could be a Republican's granddaughter or a Democrat's daughter being harassed. I am working on a bipartisan effort on Capitol Hill to fight sexual harassment. If we continue to keep sexual harassment as a taboo topic, we will never have change.