International Women’s Day – Sexism in Sports and Life

International Women’s Day – Sexism in Sports and Life

We are going to ignore out confusion/outrage and instead embrace the diversity that the author of this article linked in the title is a man.

READ IT… it is a powerful indictment of sexism in sports journalism.. It is also a reminder of why I refuse to watch BeInSport’s The Lockeroom.  Andy Gray should not be anywhere need an American television or one anywhere else.  He is a creepy, sexist, perv and will never be anything better.

Look, I am not a radical feminist, well actually I proudly am a radical feminist..  However, I don’t however think that a cookie-cutter approach to office sexual politics works.  I am well aware that male and female colleagues can have sexual and what would often be deemed, “inappropriate” discussions/jokes at the office and it mean nothing more than jovial banter.  That is ONLY true if everyone understands and agrees AND IF IT DOES NOT MAKE anyone feel belittled or coerced into a sexual requirements they are uncomfortable or where their consent is treated as irrelevant.

I honestly do not know any women or girl for that matter who has never been sexually harassed.  We live with it and work around it all the time, every single day.  Our professional lives should not be landmines fields where we dodge sexual advances, discrimination, harassment and disparaged for our gender or our sexuality.

My first real job out of college was working as an office assistant for a sporting goods trade association.  At the office wide picnic in the park, my then direct boss, a real guy’s guy and ladies’ man as he portrayed himself, took the shell left over from sticky labels are printed on the computer, stuck it on my bum as said the another person in the office, “look this year’s new bikini,” and then they proceeded to joke about it, my body and me.  I was horrified but he was my boss, and I was still in my probationary period after temping for 8 month, so I did not say anything at the time.

Later that week at an office required happy hour, he asked me what I wanted him to be to me, “[my] daddy, man, or boyfriend.”   No, he never once included anything in the range of, “boss,” “colleague,” or “mentor.”

Also that same week I had a letter put in my file from the chairman of the board of the association, declaring what, “an asset,” “profession young woman,” I was and the company was lucky to have me since I had worked hard and productively representing the group at the most recent board meeting and other events.  The head of the office congratulated me on my hardwork and organization as well.

Being fresh out of college and believing the sexual harassment training we all went through just two weeks before, I filed a complaint within the chain of command as the the training taught me.  Ten days later I was fired after the company’s fervent attempts to trash my reputation.  They pulled up initial rough draft of documents and stated it was my final work product turned in, invented times that I was not at the office when I could document that I was, barred anyone in the office from speaking with me.

They proceeded to TRASH me to prospective employers checking references as well.  I know this because I interviewed for a position and ended up explaining everything that happened.  They checked my references there and were told horrendous things about me, things that no one else even hinted at being true.  It was a horrible experience all the way around.

I filed with the EEOC and that was a whole mess of a process.  Last I heard, he was fired and never heard from again at least in my world.  I moved on and found much better (and amazingly worse) places  to work over the years. I have no regrets about standing up for myself even with all the ensuing drama and hardships I suffered.  Being unemployed sucks..  But being a woman means doing the right thing, even when it is not the easy thing.

But make no mistake, the whole thing leaves some scars.  All because some douchbag on a power-trip wanted to put a girl in her place.  I was too young and inexperienced to know that at that first moment it happens, you scream bloody murder and I would take a swing at him now, but my advice, at least make sure EVERYONE knows what happened..

Witnesses are good but.. hell EVERYONE witnesses Andy Gray’s sexual misconduct and he still gets to be on American TV every week.  Of course, he works for a network that dresses/make-ups up its female on-air talent like poll dancers.  The first El Classico they covered on their new network, their big debut:  Terry Leigh was wearing a shirt black top and a black lace bra.. because Professionalism, much?  Seriously, shear [read: see through] black button down blouse and a black lace bra. Why? Yeah..  no idea either…

She should not have to tart herself up just to get screen time.  After all she is a competent and interesting professional journalist, whose brain and ability to articulate sporting news and match analysis should be shown without placating to stereotypical male sexual fantasies.    Also I am, in no way, saying that a competent, professional journalist cannot be feminine or display her sexuality.  She can absolutely, but when she is forced to do it as part of the job. It demeans her, the company she works for and the audience.

Women’s sexuality and sports are and should not be devoid of each other.  As female fans, most of the women I know judge the sexual attractiveness of players both male and female.  I have no problem with males judging sexual attractiveness of players either nor either of judging sexual attractiveness of sports reporters when it is part of the entire judging system.  It cannot be the ONLY thing athletes and journalists are judged on.  The actual professional aspects must be front and center, first and foremost.

God knows Syd Leroux is all sexy and she owns it.  She is proud of her body and her spirit and her talent.  Anyone who thinks she is on the team for any reason other than her brilliant ability to put the ball in the net is officially an idiot.

Speaking of female athletes and sexism..  At the Poverty Match this week, Marta [featured in the Google Doodle above] SHINED brightest in a team with Zidane, Maldini, (real) Ronaldo, Cannavaro, and the ledges of the male game.  SHE OWNED THE PITCH, assisting on Zidane’s first goal and having multiple great chances.

My favorite part was she did that while being a teammate of  AC Milan/Italy hero Gennaro Gattuso who only a couple of months ago said, “I can’t really see women in football, I don’t like to say it but that’s how it is.”  Oh Rino, she was better than you on the day.. Let’s broaden our POV, K babe… Thanks.

When when stop being viewed solely for their sexuality, we will have made real progress in society.  Women can do ANYTHING they like even play and cover soccer and other sports without either diminishing or being solely reduced to her sexuality.  Welcome to 2014.. it’ll be ok.

PS – Awesome video of 10 players in the World

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