Stop Sexual Discrimination at <i>The Source</i>
David Mays, Raymond "Benzino" Scott, and Al Sharpton.
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After two top female executives at The Source magazine filed a sexual harassment suit against their former employer on Monday, April 11, 2005, the co-owners of The Source, David Mays and Raymond "Benzino" Scott, both responded (on two separate occasions) by impugning the sexual reputation of one of the two plaintiffs, Kim Osorio, the former editor-in-chief of the magazine.
In an April 11th statement reported by www.allhiphop.com, David Mays said:
It is a fact that Ms. Osorio had sexual relations with a number of high profile rap artists during her employment as editor-in-chief.
The following day, Benzino was interviewed, also by www.allhiphop.com, and said,
[Kim Osorio is] screaming sexual discrimination. What we're gonna do is counter sue her because that's totally false because especially when we have record ofwe have proof of her having many sexual relations with a lot of the artists that she was actually interviewing a lot. And we will counter sue her for defamation of character and then after that, we'll just let the courts decide it.
1. We condemn David Mays and Benzinos response to the suit. The notion that Osorios sexual history (real or imagined) has any bearing on whether or not her claims are legitimate is ludicrous. Michelle Joyce and Kim Osorios claims will be evaluated by the courts, but the responses from the Harvard-educated Mays and the self-appointed community leader Benzino certainly seem to indicate that the top staff at The Source condone and reinforce a climate of discrimination against women. Basically, their argument boils down to the classic Shes promiscuous, so she couldnt have been sexually harassed, so the responsibility for the harassment lies with its victim, as opposed to the harasser.
2. While we understand that the music industry is rife with little-discussed sexual perks, we hold journalists to a higher standard. Female journalists in particular have long understood that sexual relations with subject matter undermine any attempts at objectivity, clearly compromise the integrity of the magazine, blur the line between professionalism and personal pleasure and reinforce the sexist stereotype that women write about hip hop only to sleep with rappers. We in no way condone such behavior. That said, we are equally aware that Benzinos and Mays accusations against Osorio are a calculated attempt to obscure the issue at hand: Does The Source engender a climate of harassment that makes it difficult if not impossible for its female employees to do their jobs without feeling demeaned, devalued or threatened?
3. In The Source and other magazines, women of color are only valued as available sexual objects, a relationship that clearly goes back to slavery and imperialism. Yet they are expected to stay loyal and quiet about sexism and injustice in their own house, and when they choose to raise the issue in public, they are again reduced to sexual objects. We are disgusted at the fact that while Mays and Benzino and other community leaders claim to be concerned about injustice, they are clearly exploiting racist and racially divisive stereotypes of women of color.
4. We call on the so-called community leaders who allegedly asked Benzino to return to The Source after he had resigned Friday, April 8, to take a stand against the sexism of both Benzino and Mays. After he put out a press release on April 8, stating that he had stepped down from The Source, Benzino recanted on Monday, April 11, announcing his return. According to the latter release, Reverend Al Sharpton, executives from Black Enterprise, David Mays, and others insisted he retain his position for the good of the cause. We are deeply concerned that a community leader like Sharpton, who professes to be seeking a more humane hip hop industry, would align himself with a magazine that so clearly ignores the humanity of women. We urge him to respect the concerns of men and women equally, and to use this opportunity to examine the working conditions of The Source specifically, and the sexism that women who work in music journalism and in the music industry experience on a daily basis.