Sex and gender at work, in bed, and on the street

Correction:

The headline of this post originally misspelled Ines Sainz' name.

John Riggins' 15 excuses for sexual harassment of sports reporter Ines Sainz

September 14, 2010 - 12:46 PM
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Ines Sainz gets cat-called, scrutinized (Photo: Associated Press)

This week, allegations arose that New York Jets players taunted Mexican sports reporter Ines Sainz with "cat-calls," "suggestive comments," and strange "on- field antics" during a team practice. Cue sports luminaries pontificating on sexual harassment!

TBD has already detailed Clinton Portis' bizarre defense of harassing female journalist (it has something to do with a room full of attractive genitalia). Now, follow along as we count NFL Hall-of-Famer John Riggins' excuses!

Today, Riggins appeared on his regular WTOP chat, "Ask Riggo." Toward the end of the hour, the former Washington Redskins and New York Jets running back was asked to weigh in on the Sainz issue. Here he goes:

You have a situation here where this woman—what I read in the Internet—bills herself as the 'World's Hottest Sports Reporter.'[1] Well, if you're going around and this is what your claim to fame is, and depending on what kind of journalist is she—is this for something, for the channels where it's pop culture?[2] Which I think more of it is? Well, and you're dressed—you can say however you're dressed.[3] And she is, she's an attractive woman.[4] But is she really serious?[5] And if you know that, if you know that you're serious about your job, I don't think you'd bill yourself as the hottest sports reporter. I think you're asking for it.[6] And it's just the animal instinct.[7] If you're putting it out there, these guys are sensitive.[8] And I'm sorry, maybe she's so hot she can't help it. But you know what? Then put on a cardboard box, OK?[9]

. . . My point here is, we don't know exactly what it was.[10] And she herself says that it wasn't sexual harassment.[11] But my point is that: Change the way you do things.[12] You're saying, 'Should she be subjected to it?' But some people ask for what comes. [13] Why is it that she's the only one?[14] Is this something that's ongoing with the team? I don't think so, I think this is an isolated case, and I think there's a little bit more to it, and perhaps an investigation's good. Maybe she was somehow trespassed upon, or maybe somebody else made more out of it than what's really going on there.[15]

Let's follow Riggins' line of reasoning here:

1. Sainz "bills herself as the 'world's hottest sports reporter." (Actually, her tag-line is the "hottest sports reporter in Mexico"). Emphasizing one's appearance is one of the only ways for women to break into the heavily male-dominated field of sports reporting. Even women who agree to do this do not belong in sports.

2. Sainz reports on "pop culture," which is presumably less fancy than reporting on "sports." Journalists who report on popular culture deserve to be harassed.

3. "You're dressed—you can say however you're dressed." Whatever that happens to be, it's too sexy.

4. "She's an attractive woman." Men are allowed to harass women they are attracted to.

5. She's not a serious journalist. Attractive women can't hold serious jobs. And only people with serious jobs deserve not to be sexually harassed.

6. She's asking for it. A classic.

7. Sexual harassment is "animal instinct." Men have been throwing footballs at female professional journalists since the fish grew legs and walked out of the water. It's science.

8. Men are "sensitive." Professional football players are emotional lightweights who can't afford to have their feelings hurt by being prevented from yelling at women and/or throwing footballs near them.

9. "Put on a cardboard box." Women who are cursed with hotness are not doomed to harassment, if they dress correctly. Seasoned reporters know that making fun of women in looser clothing is totally prohibited.

10. "We don't know exactly what it was." But if it is determined to be sexual harassment, simply refer to the previous nine excuses.

11. "She herself says it wasn't sexual harassment." As long as we call it "cat-calling," "suggestive comments," and "on-field antics," it's not harassment.

12. "Change the way you do things." It is a woman's responsibility to adhere to arbitrary standards of personal appearance set by men, or face the consequences.

13. "Some people ask for what comes." See: Excuse #6.

14. "Why is it that she's the only one?" If you're the first woman to speak out about harassment from a particular group of men, you're probably lying.

15. "Somebody made more out of it than what's really going on here." Sure, sexual harassment is wrong, but talking about it is much worse.

Whenever a woman is sexually harassed, the conversation inevitably turns to how the victim did wrong, looked wrong, dressed wrong, reported wrong, made her career wrong, and navigated a man's world wrong. The point is moot.  Sexually harassing Ines Sainz makes sports reporting an unwelcome place for all women in the business, who must constantly navigate intense scrutiny of their looks (too hot, not hot enough), their clothes (too feminine, not feminine enough), their demeanor (too flirtatious, too humorless)—basically, their gender.

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  1. whetstone whetstone

    whet moser

    Sep 14, 2010 - 05:51:21 PM

    Then put on a cardboard box, OK? John Riggins calls for sharia law! SCANDAL! What's sort of mindblowing about this is that football players are among the most highly trained people in the world--the whole sport is predicated on a kind of precision and control that most people, including myself, can barely comprehend . . . but asking professional football players to be polite to a woman in tight jeans is presented as an impossibility. Weird.

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  2. dar74 dar74

    Deborah Rogers

    Sep 14, 2010 - 09:02:40 PM

    I liked the article - what is wrong with you, Brandon Windsor? Good grief. I think the issue of women in sports reporting is really interesting, and this is just one of many examples of the challenges women face in the professional sports world. Ignore fools like Windsor, Amanda, and keep reporting issues like this!

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  3. brandonewindsor.com brandonewindsor.com

    Brandon Windsor

    Sep 14, 2010 - 04:16:04 PM

    This was one of the more argumentative, illogical postings I have read on TBD. Hopefully someone takes your random statements on this blog, interprets them to fit their argument, and then berates you for your stupidity because that is precisely what you have done. Way to be a professional.

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