Linda Bloodworth Thomason, friend of Bill and Hill and creator of “Designing Women,” has something to say about Les Moonves, the CBS head honcho who was recently ousted after heroic journalist Ronan Farrow exposed him for assaulting and harassing women for decades. Thomason was a CBS hit-maker who nabbed a record-breaking writing and producing contract with the network in the early 1990s. That all changed when Moonves came on board:
I was never sexually harassed or attacked by Les Moonves. My encounters were much more subtle, engendering a different kind of destruction…
During that period, because my contract was so valuable, I continued trying to win over Moonves. And he continued turning down every pilot I wrote. Often, if he would catch me in the parking lot, he would make sure to tell me that my script was one of the best he’d read but that he had decided, in the end, not to do it. It always seemed that he enjoyed telling me this. Just enough to keep me in the game. I was told he refused to give my scripts to any of the stars he had under contract. Then, I began to hear from female CBS employees about his mercurial, misogynist behavior, with actresses being ushered in and out of his office. His mantra, I was told, was, “Why would I wanna cast ’em if I don’t wanna fuck ’em?”
People asked me for years, “Where have you been? What happened to you?” Les Moonves happened to me.
Somewhere in the middle of all this, I was walking the halls one day in the original CBS building. In spite of no longer having gainful employment, I still felt proud that I had been allowed to make a creative contribution to the network I had grown up with — starting with Lucy and Ethel, who had electrified me and inspired me to write comedy. I never dreamed that I would become the first woman, along with my then-writing partner, Mary Kay Place, to write for M*A*S*H. I took pride in being part of a network that always seemed to be rife with crazy, interesting, brash women, from Mary Tyler Moore and Rhoda, to Maude, to Murphy Brown, to the Designing Women. Many of these female characters paved the way for women to be single, to pursue careers and equal pay and to lead rich, romantic lives with reproductive rights.
As I walked, I noticed that the portraits of all these iconic women were no longer adorning the walls. I don’t know why and I didn’t ask. I just know that the likes of them have rarely been seen on that network again. Thanks to Les Moonves, I can only guess they all became vaginal swabs in crime labs on CSI Amarillo…
And as for you, Mr. Moonves, in spite of the fact that I was raised to be a proper Southern female, and with your acknowledgement that I have never, in my life, spoken a single cross word to you, despite the way you treated me, may I simply say, channeling my finest Julia Sugarbaker delivery: “Go fuck yourself!”
Read the whole thing at The Hollywood Reporter.
Moonves was originally slated for a big payout after CBS kicked his sorry ass to the curb. But outrage from the public and from women he’d destroyed over the course of his career caused CBS to backpedal. From Farrow’s New Yorker piece:
Update: Three hours after the publication of this story, CNN reported that Moonves would step down from his position at CBS. Later the same day, CBS announced that Moonves had left the company and would not receive any of his exit compensation, pending the results of the independent investigation into the allegations. The company named six new members of its board of directors and said it would donate twenty million dollars to organizations that support the #MeToo movement and workplace equality for women. The donation will be deducted from any severance payments that may be due to Moonves.
The Moonves episode is a timely reminder about misogyny’s widespread damage. Powerful shit-stains like Les Moonves and Harvey Weinstein may finally experience some financial, social and hopefully legal costs for their abuse. But another leering pig, Donald Trump, has thus far escaped his reckoning, and a sexual harasser still sits on the highest court in the land, where he may soon team up with two Trump appointees to curtail women’s reproductive freedom.
We should never forget that misogyny (with an assist from a foreign autocrat and an anti-democracy, white supremacist-pandering Republican Party) gave us Trump and cheated us out of our first woman president. We should also keep in mind that misogyny continues to narrow possibilities and therefore blights our society in ways that are beyond reckoning.
As Rebecca Traister noted in a powerful piece in New York Magazine last year, our national narratives are still being shaped by lecherous, powerful men:
In hearing these individual tales, we’re not only learning about individual trespasses but for the first time getting a view of the matrix in which we’ve all been living: We see that the men who have had the power to abuse women’s bodies and psyches throughout their careers are in many cases also the ones in charge of our political and cultural stories.
The Latin origin of the word “matrix” roughly translates to “womb,” and in modern usage, it denotes a medium in which events take place, a space where development occurs. But there’s nothing nurturing about the misogyny matrix, in which abusers not only destroy individuals but serve as political and cultural gatekeepers.
That matrix, where all of us live right now, is poison to society, as is white supremacy. And we’ll never “rise up and live out the true meaning” of our equality creed until both misogyny and white supremacy are defeated.