Courageous and brave are not adjectives I should have to use to define female sports journalists, but I have been reminded that I very much need to.
“I hope you get raped again.”
“Hopefully this skank is Bill Cosby’s next victim. That would be a classic.”
“You need to be hit in the head with a hockey puck and killed.”
Uncomfortable? Yeah, me too.
These are all real words from real men. Don’t be fooled, there were tons of other abhorred comments, but these ones stuck out to me the most.
In a PSA culture segment by ESPNW, random men read aloud mean tweets that were directed at female sports writers. This piece was a play on Jimmy Kimmel’s segment, “Mean Tweets,” where athletes and celebrities read rude tweets sent to them. Kimmel’s skit, however, is seen as light-hearted comedy, and most of the comments do not dig too deep.
For example, in an NBA edition of Kimmel’s segment, Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors read, “‘Imagine the damage Steph Curry would do if he didn’t have such a girly name. #ChangeItToSteve.’” Nothing too crazy.
But in the PSA, the comments were not “mean.” They were repulsive, hate-filled and wished harm, even death, upon the women. And for what? These reporters receive backlash for doing their jobs.
Being a female in a predominantly male job. That’s it. That is their crime.
I understand that public figures, both male and female, are berated for various reasons, and by no means am I disregarding their mistreatment. But I do not think the world can turn a blind eye to the fact that female journalists are the targets of multifaceted attacks.
So, who, exactly, were these mean tweets for?
CBS Chicago sports reporter Julie DiCaro and ESPN sport reporter Sarah Spain.
DiCaro studied both journalism and French at Indiana University and received her JD at DePaul’s College of Law. Spain attended Cornell University as an English major, and was also a heptathlete for Cornell track and field.
Both are extremely qualified women to fill their positions. After all, do you really think CBS and ESPN, would hire underqualified, mediocre reporters?
Women have been discriminated against throughout history and still are to this day, so in one sense, I am not surprised that ignorant comments such as these were said, but I think sports journalism is a field that is particularly stuck in the past.
The business hugely favors male figures. Many former male athletes are seen as more respectable that former female athletes. Male writers and broadcasters are seen as more credible and knowledgeable when compared to women. Male figures in sports are not objectified for their looks, whereas women heavily are.
Even when women hold degrees from prestigious universities and have ample job experience, they are still perceived as second-rate.
In a field that allows women to take one step forward, only to push them two steps back, the singular way to make sports journalism gender equal is for women to keep pursuing these positions. In order to earn respect and transform the business, women have to face objectification, judgement, hatred and questioning of their knowledge.
Well shit? Sports journalism sounds like a terrible situation for women.
But even with all the odds stacked against them, badass women continue to go after all types of jobs in the sports world, in the biggest companies in the business such as ESPN, Fox and CBS.
As a current female student interested in pursuing a job in sports journalism, it is disheartening to read and learn about how women are regarded in this industry. It is truly sad that you have tell young, driven women that even if they do land a job in sports journalism that they are going to have to deal with criticism in almost every form.
And although I feel deflated, there is a little bit of light at the end of my tunnel – those badass women who currently hold sports journalist jobs.
To all the courageous, intelligent, brave and resilient female figures in sports journalism, thank you – your strength shows that though it may be difficult, women can, and will, fight for their right to be in sports journalism.