By Philly Baines
My experience at Vice
The New York Times has recently published a scoop on reports of sexual harassment at Vice – the $6 billion global media company. I worked there as an intern from July to November 2013 and wanted to share what I experienced too.
Before writing this my brother, training to be a lawyer, is warning me about libel. He’s encouraging everything I write to be anonymous so I’m not sued for what little I have. On top of stigma, money is another big thing keeping women back from calling out injustices. This frustrates me a lot. If any other lawyers want to help me out with advice on this – would be gratefully received.
So without naming names…
Some of the lines between sexism and feminism were blurred at Vice. Page three in The Sun was seen by many of the guys as freedom of speech – I’d say fine, if it didn’t silence half the population. I remember one guy watching rape porn on his laptop at work for ‘research’ purposes. Anyone who’s experienced assault wouldn’t appreciate this.
I remember trying to get a story published about a Doctor, trying to build a floating hospital in the DR Congo to help women with reproductive health problems. The story was deemed by an editor not in fitting with Vice’s brand.
I ended up having a ‘thing’ with a guy there. It was fairly destructive. Without going into detail, I ended up seeing a lot of Doctors after an experience with him. They wanted to send the police to his house due to the physical effects it had on me.
In the interest of staying objective, it must be said there were some good people with power at Vice who played no part in this culture. Weird thing though was that it was right under their noses, why couldn’t they see it and take more of a stand against it?
I’ve left documentaries and journalism, largely because this ‘holier than thou’ attitude had in the industry, fuelled my cynicism to a breaking point.
Vice is, by no means, the only company I’ve worked at with sexism problems. I once had a female boss say to me ‘you’re a good looking girl, you should be using all the resources you’ve got in this industry.’
Different people respond to injustice in different ways.
This is the first time I’ve written and published anything about my experience. As the #meetoo campaign ran, I didn’t want to join. On a personal level, resurrecting bad and traumatic memories can often do more harm than good. I think with time, you can come to terms with your experience.
It’s fine to join in and fine not to, do whatever is going to help you the most.
Anyone effected by what I’ve written, please look into counselling and talk to a forward-thinking GP. Chin up if you can; you’re not alone.
So that’s a very superficial telling of my story. There’s lots more to it but until I find a decent lawyer, that’s probably all I can say.