Blowback! Pop culture media explodes with news of Wendy’s attack on farmworker women, response from #TimesUp leaders…

InStyle (with an audience of 9.5 million) posted the above video at the top of their story on Alyssa Milano’s powerful response to Wendy’s outrageous claim that farmworker women were “exploiting” the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements.

People Magazine (76 million readers): “Alyssa Milano Slams Wendy’s ‘Outrageous’ Response Amid Farmworkers’ Protest of Fast Food Chain…”

Elle Magazine (26 million readers): “The #BoycottWendys Controversy, Explained…”

Delish (25 million readers): “Alyssa Milano and Amy Schumer Support Boycotting Wendy’s Amid Allegations Of Farmworker Abuse…”

News of last week’s attack on farmworker women by Wendy’s spokeswoman Heidi Schauer went viral on Thursday across most of the internet’s major culture magazines and online hubs — with the People Magazine article on the topic even skyrocketing to #1 nationally on the Apple News app — all spotlighting Alyssa Milano’s eloquent defense of the CIW’s long track record in the fight against sexual harassment and assault at work, and of farmworker women’s centrality to the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements. 

Ms. Milano’s stand quickly won support from a range of other widely-regarded public figures in the entertainment industry, including Amy Schumer, Amber Tamblyn (who had declared Time’s Up’s support for the CIW long before Wendy’s desperate attempt to pit the two against each other), Caitriona Balfe, and Perez Hilton.  Beyond the Hollywood stars, the news was taken up across social media by social movements such as the national account of the Women’s March and well-regarded journalists like the New York Times‘s Mona Eltahawy.  And of course, countless members of the Fair Food Nation and ally movements to the CIW — unable to contain their outrage — confronted Wendy’s outrageous remarks with renewed determination to keep the Wendy’s Boycott strong and growing until the fast food giant comes to the table with the CIW.

Here are just a few of the highlights from the viral news of Wendy’s now-infamous claim that farmworker women are “trying to exploit” the #MeToo movement:

We begin with the full text from the Elle Magazine’s article on the escalating war of words, which trended as #2 on their website:

The #BoycottWendys Controversy, Explained

BY HANNAH MORRILL
MARCH 22, 2018

 

boycott wendys

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Burger King, McDonald’s, Subway, and Taco Bell are all on board, and yet Wendy’s has held out. Not surprisingly, Wendy’s refusal to get on board with basic human rights has become increasingly problematic—and that all came to a head this week.

FFP was founded by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW)—Immokalee is a regional agricultural center in Florida where 90 percent of the nation’s tomatoes are grown. Rather than join onto FFP, according to boycott-wendys.org, Wendy’s cut ties with its Florida growers in favor of Mexican tomato suppliers. (A 2014 series in the Los Angeles Timesdetailed child labor, sexual harassment and other abuses on Mexican farms.)

Last week, from March 11 to 15, farmworkers from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and consumers decided they’d had enough. They picketed and fasted outside the Park Avenue office of Nelson Peltz, Wendy’s largest shareholder and chair of its board of directors.

The group, many of whom were women, sought to highlight the sexual violence many female workers are subjected to within the industry; a commitment to the FFP from Wendy’s would give a voice to this risk. The Freedom Fast, as it was nicknamed, represented a brave continuation of the #MeToo movement from a particularly marginalized demographic.

boycott wendys

CIW supporters marching in New York City on March 15.
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Wendy’s wasn’t pleased. Company spokesperson Heidi Schauer told The Huffington Post, “There’s no new news here, aside from the CIW trying to exploit the positive momentum that has been generated by and for women in the #MeToo and Time’s Up movement to advance their interests.”

Unsurprisingly, that statement didn’t go over well with Alyssa Milano, who’s been deeply committed to the movement.

Milano posted a 406-word response on Twitter, writing: “If you really want to get on the wrong side of the Time’s Up movement, keep using our name to attack and belittle farmworker women who are fighting to keep themselves and their sisters safe from rape in the fields.” Amy Schumer reposted Milano’s sentiments on Instagram. Wendy’s hasn’t yet responded to Milano.

In the meantime, the brand has made time to tweet about the issues it cares about most: steamed ham and fresh beef.

Next up:  Fox News — yes, Fox News — put together their own video recap of the news:

In addition to the quick-hitting pop culture media that picked up the story, In These Times’ Sarah Lazare captured the response directly from the women of CIW, who had just spent five long days fasting in the cold streets of Manhattan in front of the offices of Wendy’s Board Chair, Nelson Peltz.  Here’s just one piece from the article, titled “Farmworkers Fight Back Against Sexual Violence Only to be Accused by Wendy’s of “Exploiting” #MeToo” (though we strongly encourage you to read and share the full piece!):

… Farmworkers responded [to Wendy’s statement] with incredulity. “Wendy’s claim that we are exploiting the positive momentum generated in the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements obscures the 25-plus years the CIW has spent organizing to stop sexual violence and other abuses in the fields,” Nely Rodriguez, a farmworker who has lived in Immokalee for 12 years and organizes with CIW, tells In These Times.

Silvia Perez, a farmworker who has organized with CIW for 17 years, declared in a statement, “We are not only fighting for our community, but also supporting other women who are working to change their own industries and to change society — that is exactly what the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements are. We have fought for decades to protect the dignity of the women and men who harvest our food—and we are winning, through the Fair Food Program. Wendy’s cannot erase the hard-earned progress we’ve made.”

And although there isn’t nearly space to include highlights from every article that came out, here’s just a sampling of the coverage that sprung up across the media landscape, reaching tens of millions of readers who almost certainly hadn’t heard of the boycott before last week (which is perhaps not what Heidi Schauer had in mind when she offered her ill-considered commentary on Wendy’s behalf to the Huffington Post):

We’ll give the last word to Rinku Sen, who authored The Nation‘s excellent piece on the Freedom Fast itself (stay tuned for a full media round-up of the action in the coming week!).  Her take went beyond disgust at Wendy’s comment to remind us of the power that is possible when women who are all fighting for the same thing — dignity in the workplace, and economic justice — join forces across industries:

“There’s no new news here, aside from the CIW trying to exploit the positive momentum that has been generated by and for women in the #MeToo and Time’s Up movement to advance their interests,” a spokesperson for Wendy’s told the Huffington Post.

But guess what? Female farmworkers are women too!

Hollywood stood up strong. […]

[…] This isn’t just solidarity between women, but different kinds of women in the same movement supporting each other’s specific fights. For me, it’s the difference between doing something “for you” and doing something “for us.”