Vanderpump Rules star Stassi Schroeder has come under the spotlight for comments she made during the episode “Are we on a male witch hunt?” on her podcast Straight Up With Stassi.
In the episode (that has since been taken down) Stassi and her pal, Jennifer Hoffner, discuss the relative “merit” of sexual assault victims who are speaking out in Hollywood. In response to their controversial comments, some listeners expressed outrage that someone would question sexual assault victims.
Stassi has tweeted in response to the backlash. “Hold up. There is ZERO bashing & I repeat myself 3726 times how I feel the whole media frenzy has taken away from the victims who were truly assaulted. You may be misinterpreting my point, because we had the best intentions w/ this episode.” And she followed up with the tweet below.
About 5 ppl heard this podcast & everyone else read ONE quote without the backstory or context of a TWO hour episode. pic.twitter.com/23EMPZpcMU
— Stassi Schroeder (@stassi) November 25, 2017
When advertisers like Rent The Runway, began pulling out of Stassi’s podcast, she suddenly became more contrite. PEOPLE reports that Rent The Runway stated, “We’re shocked by @stassi’s comments re the #metoo campaign. It goes against everything RTR stands for as a company and has publicly advocated.” The company pulled out of their advertising contract, effective immediately, and was soon followed by other sponsors.
Soon, Stassi’s co-stars started speaking out about the issue. Ariana Madix wrote the following:
Here’s to a better future. pic.twitter.com/AZClWoGEev
— 🏳️🌈Ariana Madix (@ariana2525) November 26, 2017
But Kristen Doute defended Stassi:
I actually listened to @stassi podcast and can’t wait for her new one.
Way disappointed in the sponsors that went public without knowing her true POV.
— kristen doute 🦒 (@kristendoute) November 26, 2017
Then, Stassi wrote a public apology on her personal blog:
“I need to share my thoughts with you regarding my most recent (and deleted) podcast episode.
I am someone who has always been pro-women. My whole podcast was built around this notion, a notion revolving around women supporting women and having a safe space to discuss whatever we wanted in the most uncensored way possible. I’ve spent 3 years now discussing the fact that as women, we should feel comfortable to express ourselves/feelings/thoughts without feeling ashamed. I feel motivated and inspired to help women & express the importance of exposing abuse. I feel motivated to be honest in the face of unjust actions, whether it be by a man or a woman. I have ALWAYS been about justice. I have had the great fortune of being an example to young women & my honesty is what got me to that point; therefore, my honesty is something I am not willing to compromise.
The idea of anyone being sexually assaulted horrifies me. The fact that I’ve upset women who have been sexually assaulted horrifies me. And for that I am truly, truly sorry.
My intentions with this latest episode got lost with some of the comments I made that were insensitive and thoughtless. Before I explain my intent, I want to WHOLLY apologize for the flippant remarks where I said that no one could make me go down on someone, where I said it is easy to say no, and where I said it’s easy to not go to someone’s hotel room alone. I don’t know what each individual woman was being put through in each instance. That was inexcusable and reckless of me.
I’ve read countless emails from you where you’ve shared your stories with me. Some of your stories have shown me just how sorry I am for lumping sexual assault victims into one category and making those ignorant remarks. Other stories have made me realize that there still is a dialogue that people are having privately, a dialogue that we might not be ready for publicly. It was the one I inarticulately tried to have.
The comments I’ve apologized for were 40 seconds of a two-hour long episode, that very few people have heard. What is really unfortunate is that this backlash has made me the story, when the whole purpose of the episode was to bring attention to real victims of sexual assault. I have a point of view that reflects the way a lot of women are feeling, because I spoke to many victims prior to and after the podcast came out. There are many women who feel that so many of the stories we are hearing now in the media are incomparable to real sexual assault. While we all have a different level of what we deem assault, a story about a man touching a woman’s backside isn’t the same as being sexually raped. And I have felt that these stories have taken away from the women who have truly been violated.
The attack on Al Franken is one of the stories that really inspired me to bring up this sensitive topic. A man, who I believe has been doing great things, might see his life/work/family go down in flames. And then, I continued to research. And I read about men who were fired within hours of one allegation. Without any investigation whatsoever. This doesn’t just affect the men, it trickles down to, not only their families, but also their colleagues. Movies and television shows that are now being canceled are putting artists and people out of work. What about the screenwriter of the show? Or the set director? Or the sound technicians? All because of one uninvestigated allegation. (I use the entertainment industry as my example because that is what I know).
The reaction to my podcast has really shaken me. I should be able to express what I think and feel. Should I not? I made mistakes with some inappropriate comments, but does that discredit everything else I stand for?
I’m now torn. Truly torn. I was never trying to hurt anyone. I was trying to express my opinion and start a dialogue that I think may have come too soon. And I have been condemned for it. Is that not the opposite of what we stand for? I would NEVER protect a sexual predator. I would find ways to burn sexual predators alive in boiling oil. And I would NEVER shame a victim. I am a woman, after all. I am one of you. And I have very close people around me who have experienced being raped. I’ve been put in some very compromising positions that I was lucky enough to fight my way out of. I was one of the lucky ones, and I should have realized that not everyone has the same luck.
I believe there is a strong message behind what I said and I didn’t explain it properly because of my flippant, ignorant remarks. I have felt that there have been opportunistic people who have used this time to gain attention, fame, money etc. and that frustrates me. There are real victims out there, and they are being put in the shadows. I am proud of ANYONE who is brave enough to come out with her/his story.
This shouldn’t be about men vs women. This could happen to me. This could happen to my best girlfriend, my sister, my mom. One allegation, one accusation… and everything you’ve worked so hard for is over. This is about an abuse of power. Men have abused their power, and women have abused their power. And now with social media, the abuse of power is rampant.
I’ve now realized just how big this issue is and it’s something I can’t even begin to tackle. When the dialogue becomes acceptable, I hope to be a part of it. It’s about the victims. And it’s about justice in the right way. I only care about what is just and right. If people misconstrue my message because of some ignorant comments, I cannot control that. But I can control the consistency of my message, and I have always been that way with my podcast. My hopes moving forward are for women (and men) to always feel they have a safe place to come out with their stories, but for us to not condemn people immediately and blindly without question. I am someone who wants true equality. I don’t want hand outs JUST because I am a woman.
Thank you to everyone who emailed me their stories.
I am truly sorry to anyone I hurt.”
You can listen to the deleted podcast here.
Photo Credit: Bravo