Love it or hate it, there is no escaping the fact that feminism has come to stay in our world. The movement has continued to garner momentum over the years and this is due to the sustained push by several women, and even men, including the likes of Caroline Heldman. A Professor of Politics at Occidental College, Los Angeles, Heldman has dedicated her life to pursuing issues relating to systems of power such as race, class, and gender. She has authored several books to that effect.
Caroline Heldman has also penned several literary articles highlighting various aspects of gender dynamics. Beyond the academic world, Caroline Heldman has also touched the lives of many women with her advocacy and efforts against molestation and sexual harassment. All these have fetched her several accolades and she has been hailed as “an unsung feminist hero and the Gloria Steinem of her generation”.
How Caroline Heldman Overcame Her Patriarchal Upbringing To Become A Feminist
Caroline Heldman grew up in a conservative, middle-income family. According to her, they were Pentecostal evangelicals and her father was quite misogynistic. The senior Heldman didn’t believe in listening to music by women or reading books by them either. He also forbade his daughter from anything he deemed manly such as cutting her hair, playing sports, or wearing pants.
Caroline went along with the status quo for some time but as she grew into her teens, she naturally sought to escape her cage. She, therefore, took to doing some of the things that her family forbade her from. The young lady got involved in serious physical activities such as auto racing as well as martial arts, specifically Tae Kwon Do. She also searched for and devoured feminist literature such as Betty Friedman’s Feminine Mystique.
The 1963 book challenged the notion that women can only be happy by marriage, child-rearing, and family work, and Heldman happily gobbled that text which inspired her to go as far as she could in her career. To prepare herself in this regard, Caroline schooled at the Washington State University and obtained a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1993. Three years later in 1998, she graduated from Rutgers University with a master’s degree in political science. Still, at Rutgers, Heldman bagged a Ph.D. in political science in 2002.
She Is Now A Professor Of Politics At Occidental College
Heldman’s professional career dates back to her Ph.D. days in 2000 when she worked as an adjunct professor at Rutgers University. She held this position from August of 2000 until July 2002, shortly after wrapping up her doctorate program at the university. Heldman spent the next four years lecturing at Whittier University, a private liberal arts college located in Southern California, and then later at Fairfield University, a modern Jesuit Catholic University at Fairfield, Connecticut, USA.
Her big move, however, came in 2006, when she took up a lecturing job at Rutgers’ department of Political Science. She rose through the ranks to become head of the department only five years later. Caroline Heldman presently lectures at Occidental College, L.A., and is now a full-fledged professor. She has contributed articles to top academic journals such as the American Political Science Review.
She has also authored and co-authored major bestsellers including Rethinking Madame President: Are We Ready for a Woman in the White House? (Published in 2007), Protest Politics in the Marketplace: Consumer Activism in the Corporate Age (Published in 2017), Women, Power, and Politics: The Fight for Gender Equality in the United States (Published in 2017), The New Campus Anti-Rape Movement (Published in 2018), and Sex and Gender in the 2016 Presidential Election (Published in 2018).
Heldman Has Successfully Campaigned Against The Rape Culture On University Campuses
Beyond penning research articles and books, Caroline Heldman has also worked to leave her society a little better than she found it. The politics professor relocated to New Orleans in August 2005 to help rebuild the city after the devastating impact of Hurricane Katrina. There, she not only got involved with the clean-up efforts but also co-founded several initiatives including the New Orleans Women’s Shelter and the Lower Ninth Ward Living Museum. She was also motivated to set up ‘Critical Response,’ a group that provides volunteers for high-risk rescue efforts during crises and disasters.
Away from volunteerism, Caroline Heldman has also made tangible efforts in tackling the rape and harassment culture that has pervaded American college campuses for years and is often ignored. She set up the End Rape on Campus (EROC), and Faculty Against Rape (FAR) Initiatives. In her own school, she set up the Oxy Sexual Assault Coalition (OSAC) which brings together both claimants, activists, and professors.
Heldman also successfully campaigned to End Rape Statute of Limitations (ERSOL) in the state of California. She is now looking towards other states and has famously supported the scores of women that made allegations of sexual assault against the famous comedian, Bill Cosby. All these efforts and more have fetched her several accolades including the V-TO-THE-1Oth in 2008 (for her clean-up work in New Orleans) and a proclamation from the City of Whittier in 2005 (for her fundraising efforts for victims of domestic violence).
The Professor Accused Several Fox Personalities, Including Bill O’Reilly, Of Sexual Harassment In 2017
Asides from her work in academia, Caroline Heldman has written articles for reputable publications such as The Huffington Post, The New York Times, and The Daily Beast. She has also been tapped to share her expertise on major networks such as CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, and Fox. With regard to Fox, Heldman appeared regularly as a guest on the network between 2008 and 2011. She has now come forward to state that she was sexually harassed multiple times during that period.
The professor fired the first salvo in April 2017 when she accused Bill O’Reilly, host of the popular show, The O’Reilly factor, of sexist bullying and humiliation. According to her, he alluded to her looks when they first met and she pushed back. This caused him to describe her as hysterical and subsequently blackballed her from appearing on his show. O’Reilly denied these, as well as the myriad of allegations, against him but this was not enough to stop his departure from Fox.
In August 2017, Heldman accused former baseball star, Lenny Dykstra of sexual harassment. According to her, he guest-starred on a Fox show in March 2011 and persistently invited her to party. He also told her that talking politics gets him sexually aroused and went on to hold her by the wrist. Dykstra denied these allegations and stated that Heldman was only trying to use him for publicity. She pushed back against this thought and maintained that she was only trying to stand up for people who don’t have the strength to come forward.
Caroline Heldman also accused former Fox producer, Woody Fraser of pressuring her for sex/relationship in exchange for making her a regular contributor for the network. She equally accused another Fox personality, Eric Bolling, of harassment. According to her, Bolling referred to her as Dr. McHottie and invited into his office which was “his favorite place to have sex”. Bolling denied these allegations and maintained that he never had interactions of a sexual nature with Heldman. He also described her accusations as defamatory and false. These denials were not enough to save him and he was suspended from Fox in May 2017 and by September, removed entirely.