During 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.
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.