Writing at the intersection of motherhood, feminism and my Latinidad

08 January 2013

ESPN Announcers teach that girls are trophies - UPDATED

Steubenville, OH protestDuring last night's college football championship game, ESPN announcers Kirk Herbstreit and Brent Musburger took some time to gawk over Alabama's quarterback's girlfriend. Not just gawk, but I think Beavis & Butthead acted cooler in front of girls better than them. See for yourself:



This is shameful.

First of all, let's remember that Alabama is playing against Notre Dame, who totally botched a rape investigation and many people believe they covered it up. And continue to cover up rapes connected to the football team.

Second, most decent human beings are still in shock over the Steubenville, Ohio football rape case.The photo above comes from the protests held over the weekend. A little girl simply saying that she is more important than football.

Her sign is not just a call to prosecute any football players who participated in the rape, but a call to stop treating her like a thing. That sign is demanding recognition of her humanity; the humanity of all girls and women.

That is why when I heard this happened (I didn't see it live, but thanks to the internet for the clip!) I was livid.

As a huge sports fan, I know that rape culture is embedded in sports. I struggle with that...a lot. But that does not mean I need to sit idly by when announcers go on and teach our sons to get out a football to play catch with their dads in order to win a hot girlfriend.

UPDATE: 
ESPN has issued an apology, but not on their website. Well, it is embedded in an AP story, but it's not on their press release page. AND the AP story is about how Katherine Webb didn't mind Musburger gawking over her and doesn't get the uproar. Fair enough. But if you still have thoughts to pass on to ESPN, feel free to use their feedback page.

I've tried to read most of the comments on Facebook and here about the post. Here are some quick thoughts:

  • I'm a Cubs fan and in the '80s Harry Caray & his buddy/producer, Arnie Harris, panned and zoomed in on at least one beautiful woman a game. I am very much aware that watching sports on TV may expose me to the "pretty girl" shot. But what we saw last night was much more than that. 
  • I'm not opposed to telling a woman she is beautiful. I am opposed to telling all the boys watching that if they work hard enough to throw a ball, they are entitled to a pretty girlfriend. 
  • I draw the connection to rape because rape occurs not because a woman is pretty, but because men think they are owed something from a woman, from women. Men who rape think women are objects to own or to serve them. If we teach boys that they are owed a pretty girlfriend for having the ability to throw a ball, that is not a good method in ending rape culture.
  • Thanks to everyone who did appreciate this post. 

10 comments:

I don't know, I think that we have to prioritize our complaints. Saying that young men might want to strive to date a physically "beautiful woman" like Katherine Webb is not the most enlightened thing to say, but it's not horrendous either. He's not calling her a "girl" or a "bitch," or threatening her with violence, or even implying that her consent won't be involved. He's simply saying that a young man might want to date a beautiful woman in the future, presumably with her consent. This is a far cry from the typical misogynistic, rape-culture type of comment.

I don't know, I think that we have to prioritize our complaints. Saying that young men might want to strive to date a physically "beautiful woman" like Katherine Webb is not the most enlightened thing to say, but it's not horrendous either. He's not calling her a "girl" or a "bitch," or threatening her with violence, or even implying that her consent won't be involved. He's simply saying that a young man might want to date a beautiful woman in the future, presumably with her consent. This is a far cry from the typical misogynistic, rape-culture type of comment.

Veronica, I think you lost all sense of priorities in life, this article seems to give credence to the claims that your ideology is centered around a bunch of yuppie white girls who had their cake eat it to, got bored & looking for any meaningless & lame indiscretion by anybody(men or women) under the pretext of made up patriarchy & misogyny .

This blog does a fantastic job of speaking out for those who cannot or are too afraid.

By not speaking up you become an enabler and I plan on being an active participant in changing this world for the better.

Keep doing what you do. It's very much appreciated.

I was incensed with the two announcer's behavior. Thanks for seeing this.

Its pretty sad that our society has become so hypersensitive that acknowledging the beauty of woman causes outrage.

Our society is doomed if we let the people who are easily offended control behaviour.

All I know is when I watched this last night, I could feel that uncomfortable feeling of being objectified. It was visceral. Immediately, on my Twitter stream, I then saw many tweets commenting on how those announcer comments were 'Hilarious" and a lot of aggro-filled "yeah, keep at it, this is funny." Luckily, I also saw some tweets condemning it, and half of those were from men.

To me, this post doesnt say that this directly leads to rape; what I am hearing, and what I watched last night, says that this culture of thought perpetuates the belief that this sort of objectification is OK. It is not. It was lascivious and creepy, and that it was done in such a public forum is downright depressing and disempowering.

I don't think you've lost your priorities at all. I think you've been consistent in doing what you can to make the world a better environment for men and women. It's not like they just focused on her and said "Wow, what a pretty woman. He's a lucky guy." As a non-sport fan that seems weird, but not icky. But, as you say, the "If you wanna get a pretty girl and you live in Alabama start throwing a football." Which implies that pretty women only date football players and it implies that if you are a football player you're entitled to a pretty girlfriend. Neither of these is true and you pointed that out.

I must say that was the first time I've seen a commentator be that enthusiastic about the looks of a player's girlfriend. I am not a football fan so I don't know if this is the norm or not, but I can see why some people were offended and why others don't think it's a big deal. I guess it all depends on your own sensibilities about such matters. Personally I thought it was over the top. It sounded like something that could have been said off camera. Everything is not for public consumption. Please visit Venus Blogs as they also feature content that is of interest to women: http://venusblogs.com/category/politics/

Great post. The problem is not in commenting on a person's physical attractiveness nor in my mind the necessary link to rape but: 1) the valuing of a person simply because of their physical attractiveness and sexual appeal and 2) (this is the big one for me) seemingly to only value women because of their sexual appeal.