There have been thousands of sportswriters across the nation who have offered their opinions on the Erin Andrews nude video scandal, and now it’s time I offered mine.
The only thing most pundits can agree on regarding the scandal is that it’s an unfortunate, heinous crime that completely violates Ms. Andrews and her privacy. From there, however, the assessments vary wildly.
Some journalists have made it their mission to aggrandize an isolated incident and accuse all men, in general, of being perverts who objectify women.
Others have taken it upon themselves to share the blame in allowing this whole mess to occur in the first place (Why’s it always gotta be about you, anyways?).
Then there are those hellbound bastards who have seized the opportunity to boost their ratings by taking further advantage of ESPN’s sideline goddess. Yes, I’m talking about you, Bill O’Reilly.
Me, I blame the system.
Because if you can’t point fingers at any one person, place, or thing, then blame the system.
In this case, “the system” that’s in place is a culture established by the television news media that, in essence, objectifies women before viewers can ever offer up their own judgment.
The culture operates under the belief that in order to be on television (and especially sports-related television) a woman must first and foremost be physically attractive, and secondly any good at her job. What the women who fall under this umbrella of TV newspeople become are simply models that provide us with information.
While this system creates sex symbols out of wannabe journalists seeking respect in their field, it is riddled with double standards.
For instance, what happens when a sideline reporter like, say, Lisa Guerrero flubs names and facts left and right, as she did quite frequently while working for ABC’s Monday Night Football? Because she meets criterion 1A (she’s, in a word, hot) she gets a free pass for her errors.
Now imagine if someone like John Clayton or Ed Werder, two well-respected veteran football journalists, went and made the same egregious mistakes as Guerrero. Not only would they not get a free pass, but they could very well be at risk for losing their jobs in a profession that rarely tolerates inaccuracies. Unless you’re a good-looking female, that is.
So what we really have is a catch-22, a double-edged sword, or a system of double standards, whatever you want to call it.
Women in this profession are objectified and turned into eye candy, BUT get a free pass when they screw up at work.
Men tend to dominate the profession and are entirely based on a results-oriented system that has a tendency to chew up and spit out those unlucky souls who can’t do the job as well as a) the next guy or b) the female who might not be able to do the job any better than they can, but has nice breasts.
Is it fair for either party, then? No.
The women in the profession, including Andrews, are made into celebrities because of their physical appearance and not because of their job talents.
Essentially, the job they have as sideline reporter, etc., becomes a platform for their image and little else. It’s not fair to those individuals, male or female, who happen to be more qualified than the sexpot butchering the report, while simultaneously being unfair to the sexpot who is being led to believe she’s any good at what she’s doing simply because her boss hired her to be ogled.
It’s a give-and-take situation. If the lady wasn’t hot, she would never have been hired. She would never become a celebrity. She would never be in a position of vulnerability because of her celebrity status.
I’m not saying that what happened to Andrews is okay, or should in any way be tolerated, but I bet you a whole lot of money that none of us would care too much about this situation right now if Andrews were a Wal-Mart clerk and not a famous sideline reporter for ESPN.
And that’s the real issue here. This kind of thing goes on every day in America and people don’t hear about it or choose to care about it.
But because it happened to Andrews, amidst a system that allows it to happen based on its hiring practices and job “qualifications,” it becomes a national story that explains why men are perverts, why society as a whole is at fault, and why O’Reilly has a job.
It’s a complicated situation that basically just sucks because of how it happened. But if we want to ensure that it never happens again, we’re going to need to adjust the system and the ideals behind the system before we can move on. Is that likely to happen anytime soon? Probably not.