According to reports, four women say that Batali sexually harassed them. Two say that he groped them at industry parties, while the others say he did things like ask them to straddle him or grabbing them from behind in an unwelcome bear hug. I can’t imagine physical contact with Mario Batali ever being welcomed, but it’s made decidedly worse when three of the women worked for him when they said the harassment took place.
Again, this is sadly unremarkable. I don’t know if rising to power puts it in men’s heads that they’re entitled to sexual attention, or if being fine with groping women is part of the personality needed to achieve that kind of success in the first place. Probably a little of both. But what’s shocking about this case in particular is not just the apology he issued, but the way he did it (emphasis mine):
Jesus. Fucking. Christ. He doesn’t even know who did it or when it happened, but is apparently such a gross asshole that “yeah, uh, that sounds about like something I’ve definitely done,” is something that he’s comfortable saying. How many boobs has he grabbed?!? Mario, my man. I get it, boobs are great, and you wanna see them all. Extremely same. But like, they’re not that different. The boobs women allow you to see are not so meaningfully different from the ones they don’t that it warrants violating someone’s personal space and autonomy to find out for sure. They’re not gonna squirt out chocolate syrup if you squeeze them.
Batali owns 26 restaurants worldwide, and said that he’s “stepping away” from operational duties. Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group also said that despite having sexual harassment training and policies on the books for 10 years (lol), they’ll contract an outside firm to assist employees who want to make any further claims. The Food Network has shelved plans to re-launch his Molto Mario TV show, and ABC announced that they’ve asked him to step away from The Chew, a show he’s presumably on but that I can’t be bothered to Google.
In October of this year, when Harvey Weinstein and our current president were more or less the only high-profile men publicly accused of being sex monsters, Batali talked to Fast Company about combating sexual harassment in the workplace. Go ahead and watch the video if you want to laugh-cry.
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