Remember that philosophical question, “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?”
I have a new one for you: “If an unattractive woman and an attractive woman wear the same outfit to work, are they judged by the same standards?”
My answer is “no.”
Last week in a Milwaukee Brewers-Chicago Cubs game recap, Chicago sports columnist Mike Nadel spent a good deal of his article focusing on the attire and behavior of ESPN reporter Erin Andrews.
It was clear how he viewed Andrews and her professionalism through the first sentence in his article: “Erin Andrews, the ESPN “it” babe who clearly isn’t afraid to flaunt it, sauntered around the visiting clubhouse, flitting from one Cubs player to another.”
Thanks for interpreting Andrews' actions with your male-tinted glasses, Mr. Nadel. “…’it’ babe,” “…flaunt it,” “…sauntered,” “…flitting.”
One issue with Andrews on that day was the summer dress she was wearing. Nadel described as “designed to accentuate her, um, positives.” FSN Wisconsin's (female) sports reporter Trenni Kusnierek renamed it “glorified lingerie.”
Are men in the field criticized as the women are? When a male reporter, compared to fellow reporters in the vicinity, seems to act differently, is his behavior seen as having some sort of sexual undertone? Do these same reporters look at the men and say, “I can see Bob’s nipples through his tight polo shirt. I am offended.”?
With the power of the media, it is easy to see why breaking into the sports journalism world is so difficult for females. People seek information through these outlets and when patriarchal views make there way into these sources, we are reminded that society, as a whole, still has a ways to go.
The sad thing is that it’s not just males who see these attractive female sports journalists this way; other females do that same thing.
Remember back in our school days, there was always that one old female school secretary/cafeteria worker/teacher, a bit grandmotherly and a bit overweight, who wore shirts that displayed a cleavage line as long as a 12-year-old’s forearm. Was that employee ever disciplined? Was there a change in the lady’s work attire? Probably not, since most of us can picture a lady that fits the above description.
Now if that lady was a 20-something-year-old female with a nice body and she showed just as much cleavage, would it be ignored in the same manner? Look back to when I posed that question earlier; my answer is no.
Now, Nadel may not be the misogynist that the first couple reads of his article may paint him to be. He’s probably a very pleasant person whose observations triggered drawn out discourse (that I’m continuing) that has been bubbling up on hot stoves across the country ever since the rising prevalence of female sideline reporters.
Really, it comes down to the analyst. Some people view Andrews one way, and some will view her as completely opposite.
Criticism is in the eye of the critic.
Erin Andrews is good at what she does. The fact that she is pleasing to the eyes should not be a reason to discredit her performance. Female or male, sports journalists need to be judged by the standards of the profession and not by factors that don’t affect the journalist’s ability.
Fact is, Andrews was wearing a mid-thigh-length summer dress on a summer day; she was not wearing a leopard-print bra and thong set with clear heels on her feet.
Jump into the modern day, fellas! We females are sharing the press box and forgetting fashion is not a sacrifice we’re going to make.
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