In Korean myth, dragons are born as snakes. Today, 17-year-old Chloe Kim embodies the ferociousness and awe of a dragon, while a couple of ignorant sports talk-show hosts remain, and forever will be, snakes.
This past Tuesday in Pyeongchang, Kim — whose parents nicknamed her “Ipugi” for “baby girl dragon” — flew while competing in the women’s halfpipe event and was pure fire. She dominated her competitors by effortlessly winning gold with a near-perfect score of 98.25, culminating in her signature trick of back-to-back 1080s.
Of course, to recognize Kim’s value solely as a fierce competitor and Olympic champion is way too radical in the 21st century.
On the SiriusXM Barstool sports radio talk show, “Dialed-In with Dallas Braden,” host Dallas Braden and co-hosts Patrick Connor and Brody Stevens utilized the opportunity to sexualize Kim.
I’ll let it slide when Braden began with some casual sexism and Kim Kardashian talk, linking the likeness of her name to Kim’s, but then he inserted a callous joke about the two very different “boards” that each woman “rode” to achieve fame.
The trio then went from clueless pricks to sexual predators.
Taking Braden’s cue that it is acceptable to judge a woman’s sexuality on a broadcast, Connor shifts the sexualization to Kim.
“Her 18th birthday is April 23, and the countdown is on, baby, ‘cause I got my Wooderson going. ‘That’s what I like about them high-school girls.’ ”
While Stevens laughed in approval at the “Dazed and Confused” Matthew McConaughey reference, Connor continued his sickening joke.
“She’s fine as hell! If she was 18, you wouldn’t be ashamed to say that she’s a little hot piece of ass.”
If these sentences made you uncomfortable, congratulations. Welcome to rational humanity.
These are three middle-aged white men, talking on a public show in which they get paid to analyze sports, discussing a minor’s body and the resulting sexual pleasure they apparently receive from watching her.
Every woman has heard, in one way or another, a form of Connor’s joke and can express their own rage on behalf of Kim.
The “joke” in question is reflective of an all-too-common situation: The generally likable but slightly abrasive authority figure who rides on the heels of a culture that prioritizes male confidence utters an outwardly ridiculous but inherently demeaning comment.
Until men like Connor understand the consequences of misogyny — not just journalistic criticism, but the destruction of safety and, thus, opportunity for women — belittlement of female athletes will persist.
The misogyny didn’t even end with the broadcast. Barstool Sports founder and president Dave Portnoy not only released a blog post defending Connor’s employment, but launched a sexist attack on Deadspin author Laura Wagner, who first reported on Connor’s comments.
While calling Connor’s joke “sort of stupid,” Portnoy dismissed criticism. Taking a page from our country’s excuse for a president, Portnoy nicknamed the professional reporter “cutie pie” and reached the only logical conclusion: Wagner was a “vindictive” woman obsessed with Barstool’s publication and demise.
It’s a truly impressive amount of justification that society provides to white men to be able to separate the middle-aged man who sexualized a minor from the carefree talk show radio guy. And then, even after being presented with sufficient evidence of inappropriateness, society decides that the incident was insignificant enough to counteract any insistence on punishment.
While Connor issued an apology on Twitter on Wednesday, this kind of crude humor and underlying misogyny is unsurprising for the publication self-described as a satirical sports and men’s lifestyle blog.
Yet, in the period following the #MeToo movement, when society has had to come to grips with its failure to protect women, it is time to build upon the movement and create a culture — not just in sports but across all professional boundaries — that prioritizes respect for women.
Holding Barstool Sports and its employees accountable is a first step to that goal.
The second step? Maybe try creating a talk show where men can talk about female Olympic athletes without getting horny.
Alicia Sadowski writes the Thursday column about the intersection of sports and politics. Contact her at [email protected].