After shutting down FOX News host Bill O'Reilly when he insulted her hair on March 28 — among many other amazing, outspoken moments — Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) has reached viral fame as a feminist icon. But of course, Waters has been a progressive force for decades. At 78, she's the most senior black woman in the United States Congress. She's a member and the former chair of the Black Caucus. She was elected to the California Assembly in the '70s. Her activist work includes fighting for divestment from the South African government during apartheid and advocating against the Iraq war. In January, Black Entertainment Television called her 'the new first lady of throwing shade.'
After playing a clip of Waters on Fox & Friends, Bill O'Reilly joked, 'I didn't hear a word she said. I was looking at the James Brown wig.' Waters responded, 'I am a strong black woman. I cannot be intimidated.'
Online backlash implicates O'Reilly's comments in a larger pattern of demeaning women; recently, FOX paid out millions to settle five different sexual harassment claims against O'Reilly. In an interview with the New York Times, Trump defended the news anchor: 'I think he shouldn't have settled... I don't think Bill did anything wrong.'
Now, Waters is coming after both Trump and O'Reilly. In an appearance on MSNBC's All In With Chris Hayes, Waters said, 'They need to go to jail. Bill O'Reilly needs to go to jail.'
Given Trump's own attitudes towards women, Waters considers his defense of O'Reilly's 'sexual harassment enterprise' especially problematic: 'It's coming out of the mouth of someone who has said some terrible things about women. Don't forget he talked about grabbing women in the private parts and because he was important he could get away with it. ...They are two of a kind. I'm not surprised.'
And Waters is not the only one out to condemn Bill O'Reilly and his role at FOX News. After a New York Times investigation exposed the sexual harassment claims against O'Reilly, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Lexus, Hyundai, and Mitsubishi all pulled their advertising from FOX's 'O'Reilly Factor.' Regarding this, Waters stated, 'It's all catching up to [him].'
Top photo: Flickr.com/mark6mauno
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Olivia Loperfido is an English and psychology major at New York University's College of Arts and Sciences, and the junior editor of NYU's Mercer Street (2017-'18). She enjoys spending time with her dogs and tortoise, watching RuPaul's Drag Race, and contacting her state representatives. Follow her on Instagram here and contact her via email here.