“What’s it like working with a bunch of men everyday?”
I get this question all the time and I’ve always found it to be strange. The men I work with are wonderful. They are funny, respectful, smart and caring, with open minds and good hearts. This hasn’t always been the case. I have dealt with my share of misogynistic, women haters. They judged me and doubted me, put me in impossible situations and kept me from opportunities because I am a woman. This is not exclusive to the world of sports media, it is not exclusive to the world of media, it has been an issue in almost every job I have ever had.
This is something that I realized a long time ago. It is why when young women ask me about how to get in the business; I warn them that they have to work harder than their male counterparts. Those girls need to know that they will be passed over for positions, they will be treated like they are incompetent and they have to be aware of that. Working with men, working in a man’s world is not easy. You know what else is not easy? Working with women. People are not easy, but if you treat everyone with respect, you will be alarmed how people react to that.
It is a man’s world. Is that fair? Is it right? No. Is it changing? Ever so slowly. Perhaps it is the constant push towards a more PC social environment. Maybe it’s viral stories like Greg Hardy and Ray Rice that have opened eyes and made Domestic Violence and the treatment of women more of a reality for the ignorant masses. Maybe, just maybe…we are evolving.
I don’t happen to be one of those women who apologizes for being feminine. I like doing my makeup, wearing dresses, high heels and feeling sexy. I don’t think that this makes me less capable of understanding sports and I’ve never understood why the two must be mutually exclusive in this “man’s world.” The traditional gender roles are nearly extinct. The “kitchen,” “sewing circle” jabs barely have zest. Still, I am constantly berated with men on social media, emails and occasionally on air about how incapable I am of doing my job solely because I have boobs.
Recently, several prominent women in media have spoken out about the harassment they receive because of their profession. They’ve also voiced their disappointment with the way that the major sports leagues, most notably the NFL, have handled violence against women. Why does this matter so much? Aside from the obvious societal implications of violence, harassment and sexism there is a bigger issue at hand. By ignoring the blatant disrespect of women in sports, these leagues are validating the feelings of misogynistic men holding on to that most ancient way of thinking. It breeds intolerance and encourages the behavior.
“Why do you retweet or respond to Internet trolls?”
People wonder why I bother to retweet or engage with trolls on the Internet. These trolls are looking for attention and attempting to illicit a response from me. Why give them the celebrity status and visibility? While I realize my responding does bring them attention, it is a small price to pay. I won’t pretend like there isn’t a part of me that believes that if I just use reason, logic and intelligent debate that I can somehow convert these trolls in to tolerant humans. The main reason I respond to these men is the reaction that comes from bringing attention to the harassment.
Let’s call this type of trolling what it is, harassment. I’ve been called names, had cancer wished on me, grotesque sexual, racist, explicit comments have been made. You name it, it has likely been said. Now before you react by saying, “Men in media get harassed too, what’s the big deal?” Realize this, while men in the business get harassed as well; they aren’t being targeted for their gender. Men are judged based off of performance, opinion, bias, age, etc. Women are judged because they’re women.
Here’s the problem with dismissing these trolls as a joke or ignoring their insults. It allows them to continue doing this with no repercussions. While I may never know who the guy on Twitter with the frog profile picture from “nowhereville” is, he will know me. More importantly, he will know what it is like to be harassed on the Internet. When I take the time to highlight, retweet, respond or mention some nameless, faceless man that is harassing me an amazing thing always happens. The people that support me, both men and women are alarmed by the harassment. Some are shocked, some are saddened, but more importantly, they are aware that it happens.
This awakening is important to me; it is my breakthrough. I know that it might be annoying to the people that follow me on Twitter to constantly see the mean, crude things these men say to me. (I do apologize for that.) It is a means to an end. It’s my way of fighting back and not allowing them to hide in the murky shadows of web anonymity.
We can say that hopefully one day we will not have to talk about this, that some day equality will be reached. Everyone will be accepted and judged by their credentials and performance and not by their gender. Let’s be serious, there will never be a day when terrible people do not exist. With the growing amount of social media platforms they will only continue to have a voice. My hope is that one day, what they are doing will be taken for what it really is, harassment.
The men I work with and the men who have mentored me, are shining examples of the progress we’ve made. They crush idea that women aren’t accepted in this testosterone world. They inspire me and push me to grow and reach my goals; for that I am grateful. The trolls on the Internet, desperately searching for attention and spreading their hate, negativity and ignorance will not break me. So for now, I’ll just keep retweeting their insults and responding to their comments, I hope you’ll join me.