Wick Communications

Women deserve better

In sports on 1 Oct 2015 at 12:39 pm

Screen Shot 2015-09-30 at 4.49.35 PM

Former attorney and current Sports Illustrated columnist Julie DiCaro wrote an extraordinary piece this week that begs some discussion. I’m about to link to it, but be aware, the post is the most profane, sexist, in some ways plain terrifying thing I’ve ever seen in a mainstream media post. And none of it is her fault.

OK, here it is.

As you can see, DiCaro has been the subject of incredible harassment. I would say it’s unbelievable, except, sadly, I believe it. I was a sportswriter covering national events 20 years ago. Way back then I witnessed vile, disgusting treatment of women in and around the game. Just one that I will never forget: I saw a back-up quarterback in the NFL offer one of his lesser appendages to a female sports reporter as a coat rack. Big laughs all around. And that was just for starters. There were fewer women in the field back then, but I have always admired their ability to ignore the distractions and do their jobs amid downright threatening behavior from grown men.

I would like to think things have changed, but social media seems to have pushed us back into the Paleolithic era. As DiCaro notes, the perceived anonymity of Twitter particularly and even our own comment platform seems to embolden cretins who are threatened by intelligent women with the temerity to speak about sports.

From the piece, here is Jemele Hill, who is half of he popular His and Hers show on ESPN: …

“Women who are confident, assertive and opinionated are resented in every sector of society,” she said. “The difference is that the relative anonymity of social media empowers the trolls to say things to women that they wouldn’t dare say if they were before us in person.

“When it comes to sports, women are big targets for abuse because the resentment is two-fold. Some resent us for our confidence and beliefs. But there also is an added resentment because we are supposedly infiltrating a space that has been decidedly male.”

Well said.

We will never put a stop to this. Never. Sexism, like racism, is here to stay. That doesn’t mean we are powerless. When you see this kind of thing, call it out. Tell an usher about the brute in the stands. Intercede when you see it on social media. Encourage other women to stand strong and stand together. If nothing else, go follow @juliedicaro and @jemelehill and some of the other women in the business. You can show them support by listening.

I also think it’s important that we discuss this crap and air this dirty laundry. We are all subject to unkind comments online from time to time. That’s one thing. But when hate speech is threatening or aimed at race or gender, well, we have a breakdown in our society.

Lastly, I wanted to speak to the fact that SI printed all those tweets and other terrible terms in the telling of that story. I’m sure editors there would say it is very rare to allow some of those things under their masthead. But it’s in context. That is a story that can’t be told any other way.

Thanks for reading.



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