The sports media culture is very male dominated and can be found all throughout the industry. Males within the industry can be very egotistical and don’t like to admit the fact that these female sports journalists may be more knowledgeable then they are. You look at any female sports journalists in most cases you will find abusive messages and comments directed at them online. This is due to the fact the sports media industry is a place where women are still noted for their looks over their qualifications, skills and knowledge. As sports fans we need to raise awareness and take a stand against the harassment these women receive just for being female and doing their job.
The issue of the harassment these journalists receive first really became obvious to the public was in 2015 when Just Not Sports made a film project with female sports journalists called #MoreThanMean. The video involved men reading out abusive online comments and messages directed towards sports journalists Julie DiCaro and Sarah Spain to their faces. Some of the comments read out included were such things as “I hope you’re Bill Cosby’s next victim” and “I hope your boyfriend beats you”. This video struck a chord with many people and the video has reached over 3 million views, which when you think about it isn’t that many in the context of such a serious issue.
Since the videos release Just Not Sports has also started a podcast about online harassment with Julie DiCario and sports journalist Andrea Hangst. People were also encouraged to share the video with the hastag #MoreThanMean.
Sports reporter for ThinkProgress Julie Gibbs instigated a #MoreThanMean roundtable with a group of female sports journalists including Julie DiCaro from the video to discuss the video, their reaction, how they handle their online abuse and how they can move forward. Some of these women were surprised in the video of how much they get used it which isn’t right.
“It occurred to me that they are really used to it. And that made me really angry”
Online harassment is not a new subject, women in lots of other professions are exposed. Just with sports journalism it is seen a lot more and women are becoming so used to it. “A person who doesn’t have to be subjected to being called the c-word for having an opinion on baseball!” The video just showed how real it is for these women and others just like them. With the men apologizing in the video about the comments they are reading out strikes a chord, “Having “good men” say the same things we’ve been saying forever and day made it more real for some folks”.
“I think the sad reality is that men have to tell us something is wrong before we’ll tackle it as a culture”
The conversation also involves Men in the industry. These ladies understand the comments saying such things as Men get crappy tweets and comments to. Men also harassed online for their jobs, skills, ability. But this can undermine the women and their issue, they have unique experiences such as being criticized for who they are as people and being treated as sexual objects.
This is true women are treated as sexual objects in a lot of cases. In the sports industry most of the jobs reserved is sideline reporting which Jamie McManus from ESPNw quoted “That role is either filled by actual journalists or Miss Florida, who is, you know, an attractive young woman”. This points to the fact sports channels and networks use women for their looks and appearance to gain audience instead of letting them have opinions. This was again showed when Bleacher Report ran a story called the ’40 Hottest Sports Reporters’. Again this shows in this sports industry for women looks comes before knowledge and experience.
These ladies talk about the future of women in this industry and the fact that they don’t discourage girls from entering this field just to start to develop a thick skin from a young age. These girls need to learn and figure out how they’re going to live and cope with this harassment and abuse because no matter what it’s coming for them. They also say that they need to remind these new women into the field that to have self-care is important. Share their experiences with each other and empathize with what others go through.
“I think it’s important to value your safety and mental health above all else”
I like these women believe this will be a long ongoing issue that will never fully go away as long as people use twitter and online where they have to right to say whatever they please. The only thing we can do is continue to speak about it, keep raising the issue. Give these women in the industry the respect they deserve no one should be judged just by their appearance and how their knowledge and experience shouldn’t be put to the side. These women are just working hard and doing their job.