What’s Current: Head of New York City Ballet takes leave of absence amid sexual harassment & assault allegations

What’s Current is Feminist Current’s daily news roundup.

Peter Martins
  • Peter Martins, the head of New York City Ballet, is taking a temporary leave of absence from the company amid sexual harassment and assault allegations.
  • Several female massage therapists say they were harassed by Michael Sutherland, a Vancouver Island University student who is at the centre of a human rights complaint relating to his fetish. Numerous complaints about the man have been made to the police over the past six years, but no criminal charges have been laid.

  • Vice under scrutiny for culture of sexual harassment and “boys club” culture.
  • A trans-identified male who played in professional volleyball in Europe is now playing for women’s teams, hailed as the “first transgender volleyball player” in Brazil’s top league.
  • Two men 26-year-old men who gave two 14-year-old girls alcohol and amphetamines before raping them have reportedly been spared jail after it was deemed “consensual.”
Meghan Murphy
Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, I-D, Truthdig, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog.

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  • Po21

    Well men being men and facing no consequences, I should not be suprised. I doubt the rich ballet guy will get fired, but I hope disgusting baby guy will go to jail.

    And then the transgender article… what a piece of crap. “The rules are on your sides”. No shit sherlock, it’s cause you are fucking male! You should be ashamed to take a eomen spot and to accept prizes when you clearly know you had a huge advantage on any of the other athletes. I am not a professional athlete, but I have played sport when I was younger, and I faced psychological abuse. Other athletes face worst. Sport is tough enough as it is when you are a girl, because you have neither the sponsors of the men nor the coachung they get. Because people care more about men athletes. But apparently not hard enough, now we get our spots taken by those narcissist jerks. It’s not progress or tolerance, it’s disgusting sexism! It’s unfair! At least some people on youtube seems to realise how bs this is. Maybe there is hope they will stop this nosense before they ruin women’s sport.
    On a side note, am I the only one who was pissed to see them mention the rampant violence against gay men and transgenders in Brazil but not a word on violence against women?

  • Jani

    Just read the NYT article on sexual harassment and abuse at Vice. So it comes as a big surprise that these guys were in their 20s, 30s and 40s and came of age when sexual harassment in the workplace was illegal? Can’t anyone see the elephant in room known as ‘porn culture’? We’ve had two decades of internet pornography, it’s free, it’s there 24 hours a day, and it has miseducated men with the idea that women exist for their sexual gratification. And since “all men watch porn” (which is probably true in their case) they are all reinforcing each other’s behaviour as just the “fun” stuff that guys do. Once again, nobody is calling out the toxic influence of porn.

  • M. Zoidberg

    On the drugging and raping of two 14 year old girls by two grown men:

    >>“[The 14 year old girls] must accept a degree of responsibility” because they were “almost naked” […] “They [again, 14 year old girls] must accept a degree, and I underline the word degree, of responsibility for how this evening worked out,” Judge Graham Cottle said.

    Another judge who deserves a “Sicilian necktie” for Christmas
    *spits on the ground*

  • Thom Prentice

    I’m waiting for some #metoo from Goldman-Sachs, Raytheon, Microsoft, JP Morgan Chase, Apple, the Generals Mills, Motors and Electric, NYSE, Exxon-Mobil, Brookings, Citigroup, HSBC, BAE, Wells Fargo, United Technolgies, Bank of America, and the rest … along with some Edward Snowden / Chelsea Manning-style leaks.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Yes yes yes! My sister was a dancer her whole life, and clearly the field is totally female-dominated, yet SOMEHOW all the choreographers (i.e. those with actual, sustainable careers) and then, as you say many of those heading up the companies are men, plus the few male dancers got far more attention/accolades than the women, who were, as far as I’m concerned, abused and forced into having eating disorders/incredibly low self-esteem/body hatred. I think it’s a horrible field.

  • lk

    Are these judges stupid, ignorant or do they just really hate women and girls?

    Every time I read a story about a judge implying that woman was at fault for her rape or male rapist being given very light prison sentences, it reminds me how anti-woman the legal system really is in so many places in the world. And I understand more and more why so many women don’t bother reporting sexual abuse to the police.

    I really hope this judge loses his job and that his ruling is challenged. And why did it take 2 years for this to go to trial…that is way too long.

    I am not an expert on UK law by any means but I know the age of consent for sexual activity in the UK is 16. These girls were 14. That alone means these men were guilty of rape because according to the law it is impossible for anyone under 16 to give consent to sex..whether they were in bikinis or not.

    He spends a lot of time talking about the girls talking responsibility for their actions…but I’m interested in the responsibility of grown-ass men.

    Why does he not hold these men accountable for their actions? They were the one on trial not the girls.
    Why are 26 year old men giving alcohol and drugs to children? Why were they doing anything sexual with those girls whatsoever? And it clearly was not a spur of the moment decision because they took the time to go out and buy condoms.

    This is what happens when men only look at women/girls as things to put their penises in. This is what happens when men look at every single interaction with a female as an opportunity to add another notch to their belt. If they saw these girls as human beings who have value outside of their vaginas, they would have either left the party completely, called the girls parents or just simply had conversation with them..thats it.

    To allow child rapist (which is what these men are) to serve no jail time and community service is beyond ridiculous.

  • lk

    There is really no deterrent for men to rape…obviously for a lot of men simply being a decent person who does not inflict harm on people is not a motivating factor.

    That leaves the following negative consequences for male rapist: jail, social condemnation, physical pain and/or death.

    Jail: Most sexual assaults are unreported and there is a huge backlog in the US of rape kits needed to be tested. Judges/police who give rapists the benefit of the doubt. Minimal or no jail time for the few men who are convicted of rape.

    Social condemnation: Men don’t seem to face much social repercussions (ie. people don’t want to be friends with them, work with them etc) when they are found to be rapists/sexual predators. Religious and secular society alike seems to want to give men a break for their rapist tendencies (it’s nature! Jesus wants men to have access to women’s body! If women dress “inappropriately they deserve rape!). If anything, its women and girls who suffer serious social consequences from reporting or even talking about rape.

    Physical pain: Since fighting back may result in a woman suffering more physical harm or death at the hand of a rapist..men rape without suffering any physical wounds-getting stabbed/shot/beat up or etc by the woman they rape. (Obviously, I understand self defense can work for some women, but in many cases it does not).

    So men are basically free to sexually assault, harass or rape with nearly no negative consequence….without negative consequence what reason do they have to stop?