Today in Rape Culture

[Content Note: Sexual harassment and assault.]

On Monday, I wrote about Chef Mario Batali "stepping away" from his businesses after allegations of sexual harassment. On Tuesday, I mentioned in comments that New York restaurateur Ken Friedman had also been accused of sexual harassment.

At the Cut, Lisa Ryan reports that Friedman reportedly had a private area at one of his restaurants, known as "the rape room," where Batali allegedly assaulted multiple women, including an unconscious woman.
The Spotted Pig, located in Manhattan's West Village [and co-owned by Friedman], was a regular late-night spot for Batali, who stepped down Monday from his food empire amid sexual-misconduct allegations. Like other VIP guests, after the restaurant's dining room closed at night, Batali would frequently hang out on the third floor — an invitation-only space that employees and industry insiders claim has been nicknamed the "rape room."

According to the Times, Friedman made it clear that regular restaurant rules do not apply on the third floor, and guests frequently groped female employees there. The restaurant's employees claim they frequently witnessed Batali's sexual aggression in the private space — and that Friedman knew it was going on.

...A former server told the Times about Batali, "We called him the Red Menace." She continued, "He tried to touch my breasts and told me that they were beautiful. He wanted to wrestle. As I was serving drinks to his table, he told me I should sit on his friend's face."

Batali told the Times in a Tuesday email, "Though I don't remember these specific accounts, there is no question I have behaved terribly."
Female employees were served up as bait by one predator for his fellow predators. This is absolutely sickening — and it's emblematic of why, as Rebecca Traister observed in a terrific piece, "This Moment Isn't (Just) About Sex. It's Really About Work."

This is about whether women have the basic fucking right to make a living — and to get to and from work — without being harassed and assaulted as the cost of our survival.

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