So I spent a few hours this morning reading over various news reports of the ongoing Source sexual harassment trial and let me just say, that shit was hot! I even had to stop reading a few times just to “cool off.”
At issue is whether or not former Source co-owners Dave Mays and Ray “Benzino” Scott sexually harassed the magazine’s former editor-in-chief Kim Osorio, created a hostile work environment, fired her in retaliation, and some other bullshit. But it all pretty much sounds like bullshit to me.
Here’s the thing: Ray Benzino would almost certainly be an awful person to work for regardless of whether or not he was attempting to coerce you into playing hide the salami down in Atlantic City. No SexyBack. It’s a known fact that he ran off damn near the entire staff with that Almighty RSO bullshit back in the mid ’90s.
Indeed, an argument could be made that anyone dumb enough to go work for the Source after the “special relationship” between Dave Mays and Ray Benzino was revealed pretty much gave up their privilege to be taken seriously about anything. Evar. Lest we forget, Osorio ran the Source during their ridonkulous jihad against Eminem, which pretty much ruined the magazine anyway.
[For what it's worth, I went to work for a post-bankruptcy K-Mart in 2004 and had to put up with all sorts of bullshit. And for a lot less than $130,000 a year. You don't see me suing them, now do you?]
Similarly, I’m willing to believe that Ray Benzino called Kim Osorio a slut, told her to “shut the fuck up” constantly, asked her whether or not she was fucking Nas and blowing 50 Cent, commented on the size of Ashanti’s “vag” and any number of other such incidents. But I wonder to what extent any of this actually constitutes sexual harassment.
The Source is, after all, a hip-hop magazine. Is hip-hop not a genre of music in which women are constantly referred to (except on Common records) as bitches, hoes, sluts, and what have you? If a magazine is going to feature a prominent photograph of an R&B singer’s vag, how inappropriate is it, really, for the magazine’s owner to comment on the size of said vag?
Again, an argument could be made that the work environment for a woman at a hip-hop magazine couldn’t reasonably be expected to be any better than at, say, a strip club. Mays and Benzino are suggesting that these charges are an attempt to extort money – of which I’m sure there’s hardly any – from the Source, and I’m tempted to believe this is true.
While at the Source, Osorio only filed one sexual harassment complaint (consisting of all of two senteces) with the magazine’s human resources department, which is run by a woman. And that was after she was notified that she was about to be fired. Benzino also claims she offered to retract the complaint if Mays and Benzino would renew her contract.
I don’t doubt that the Source was an awful place for Kim Osorio to work. But she should have known it would be like that going in; and even if she didn’t, she had plenty of opportunity to hang a sexual harassment suit on Mays and Benzino before she thought her job was on the line. As it is, this case just sounds to me like yet another example of predatory feminism run amok.