The Erin Andrews video controversy: Did she “deserve” it?

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Erin AndrewsEven if you aren’t a sports fan, you’ve probably already heard about the video that was made of ESPN sideline sports commentator Erin Andrews while she was naked in a hotel room. It was a video done through the peephole of 2 different hotel rooms, according to reports, and without her knowledge nor consent. She and her lawyers are taking the appropriate steps towards legal action towards the despicable person(s) responsible for making and publishing the (approximately five minute) video in the first place – once investigators get a good lead on who it/they might be. There is wild speculation that the video may have been an inside job, made by someone who works with her at ESPN, since the network would know her work schedule better than anyone else.

I have to confess I had never heard of Erin Andrews before this story broke, and had only taken a mild interest in the story until yesterday and today, when reports about what a veteran female sports columnist had to say about what happened to Andrews were published, which fired up the dialogue and debate on this issue all the more:

One of America’s leading female sports writers has insinuated that Erin Andrews may have been partially responsible for cultivating a “frat house” fan base that led to a Peeping Tom video taping her in the nude and posting the video on the Internet.

“If you trade off your sex appeal, if you trade off your looks, eventually you’re going to lose those,” USA Today sports columnist Christine Brennan said Wednesday on the sports radio show 850 “The Buzz.” “She doesn’t deserve what happened to her, but part of the shtick, seems to me, is being a little bit out there in a way that then are you encouraging the complete nutcase to drill a hole in a room.

“Erin [Andrews] did not deserve this. I want to make that crystal clear. But she’s got to be smarter and better,” she said.

Click here to go to the Buzz’s Web site and hear the full interview.

She later tweeted that “women sports journalists need to be smart and not play to the frat house.”

Following her comments, readers expressed their outrage with Brenna’s words online.

“Never thought I would see a woman go with the ‘she was asking for it’ take. Thought that was only for chauvinist male pigs,” one commenter wrote on the sports blog “The Big Lead.”

The USA Today’s sports blog re-posted in full what she wrote on her Twitter account about the firestorm created over her remarks:

Women sports journalists need to be smart and not play to the frat house. There are tons of nuts out there.

…….

Erin Andrews incident is bad, but to add perspective: there are 100s of women sports journalists who have never had this happen to them.

And later ….

Twitter is a great format for many things, but not for serious reflection on an important topic such as this.

When I said “play to the frat house,” it was not meant to be pointed specifically at Erin, and I’m sorry if it was taken that way. It’s a comment I use often in speeches and while talking to younger women to guide myself and all of us on how to live our lives as women in sports journalism. I don’t want us playing to the frat house; I want us talking to the 12-year-old girl on the couch watching sports with her Mom or Dad.

As the hundreds of women who work in sports media know, we often still have to be twice as good to get half the credit. It’s not fair, but it’s the way it is. I have fought for years for opportunities for women in sports journalism, and will continue to do so. For those who think I am against Erin, nothing could be further from the truth. What happened to her is terrible, and she will always have my full support.

Brennan is taking a lot of heat over her remarks, mostly from women (example). So far, I’ve only found one person – a male colleague – who has stepped in to defend her. He made some interesting commentary about women in sports in general later on in his article, which I’ll get to shortly.

Andrews, for those of you who – like me – never heard of her until this week, is a 31 year-old attractive blonde with long hair and a cute figure, and is someone who has developed a cult-like following over the years since she was hired by ESPN in 2004. She’s also got a fashion style which I find somewhat unique to female sports journalists, who typically wear modest suits (although admittedly I’ve not studied the fashion habits of female sports journalists – who cares when there are men on the field/court/ice to check out? :D ) and other types of outfits that don’t draw attention to them (I know there are occasionally exceptions to this). Women in and of themselves draw attention in the sports world, regardless of whether or not they are fashionistas.

Anyway, from what I’ve read and seen, Andrews is trendy, hip, and in touch with what young women are wearing today. Looking at photos, I can see where some people would view what she wore to work on the sidelines sometimes as provocative (tight pants and v-neck tops, form-fitting sweater dresses, very high heels, etc), while other times she looks just like a fan at a sports game, blending in about as much as a woman blessed with her looks can. I admit, if I was in her line of work, I wouldn’t wear about 75% of what she does – I would tone it down quite a bit. She’s working in a male-dominated business, and in that situation – whether we’re talking about a sports-related field or in corporate America, the idea – at least in my view – is to try to blend in so as almost to be viewed as “one of the guys” while still maintaining your femininity and individuality. Ideally, you want to be recognized for your ability and talent first and foremost, not your sex – although sometimes that is unavoidable. That is why I frown on women who don’t know how to dress in a corporate environment (scroll), who wear outfits that are barely suitable for a club environment, let alone an 8-5 on the 35th floor of a major banking company. You can almost never go wrong by dressing professionally.

That said, the idea that by dressing a certain way Andrews “encouraged” some a**hole to film her through a hotel room peephole is outrageous, and as other commentators have pointed out, is reminiscent of those who would blame a woman for being raped because “her skirt was too short.” Someone wanting to dress cute and look hip and win over fans is not “asking for it” in any way. But it does bring me back to what Ed Berliner, the veteran sportscaster who defended Brennan earlier today, had to say:

There are far too many female sports journalists who believe the road to respectability is paved with push-up bras and snuggling up to athletes with more than an interview in mind. In the same breath, there are far too many TV station and network executives who force female reporters in both news and sports to accentuate their positives, and I don’t mean writing skills. I have watched from the insider’s perspective as some very good female reporters careers were derailed thanks to consultants and demographics experts who made them repeat the mantra, “Style over substance”, instead of the proper manner in which it was long taught.

Is Erin Andrews one of these types of sports journalists? I can’t say. I’ve never watched a single commentary or interview she’s done, but I have to say that if columns like this one – where the whole topic is about what type of sports guys she likes and what she finds “sexy” – are any indication, I’m not hopeful. But yet and still, that still does not mean she “encouraged” what happened to her with the video.

I can only imagine the emotions that Andrews has gone through since she found out about the video. I imagine it’s like being assaulted but without being physically touched. Someone’s watching you in some of your most private moments, moments not meant to be shared with every horndog who has scoured the I’net for copies of the video. I’ve read articles about this type of invasion of privacy, and some of the women interviewed talked about how for weeks and months – and even years – after finding out they were secretly videotaped that they didn’t feel comfortable showering, dressing, sleeping or anything having to do with showing their bodies in any way for fear that they were still being watched, becoming almost phobic about being in a state of undress (the Susan Wilson story is one of the more prominent and shocking stories out there about video voyeurism).

Andrews is on hiatus from ESPN until September (a hiatus unrelated to the video, I think). It will be interesting to see how – beyond the eventual legal proceedings – she responds to this issue, if at all. All I can say at this point is that I hope what happened to her doesn’t discourage her from returning to sports journalism. Maybe after the shock wears off, this incident will give her a fresh perspective on where she wants to go in sports journalism and how she wants to go about getting there. It would be a shame for her to stay in the shadows rather than return – that would mean that the video voyeurs, the jerk-offs who do this sort of thing for sport and profit, have won. Incidents like this one could also discourage young women from getting into sports journalism, which would also be unfortunate.

Back to Brennan, she may have been trying to say is something along the lines of what I wrote a few paragraphs ago about blending in, but it certainly came out all wrong, didn’t it? The bottom-line is that if you put your nose to the grindstone, ignore the “image consultants,” and work hard to prove your worth, you will go far and will endure over the long term. Rely solely on looks and you’ll fade into the sunset almost as quickly as you rode in on the sunrise. I don’t know if Leslie Visser is a role model for Andrews but if she’s not, she should be. She’s an example of a woman in sports journalism who has been through it all and has come out on top (no pun intended) without having to sell her soul to the image gods in TV journalism.

Women in sports have been debating the image issue for years. I remember some of the controversies over various women in sports posing nude, etc and the debates about What It All Means for women in sports. Brennan would have been better off with not suggesting that Andrews “encouraged” the peeping Tom(s). On top of that, she should have saved her remarks on style for a time when this issue had died down and could have been applied to women sports journalists in general. You can talk about your disagreements with someone’s style of dress without suggesting that they “encouraged” unwanted behavior. You can say “Look, it’s fine to be trendy, but people may take you more seriously as a professional if you do xyz instead.” It’ll still be controversial and you’ll be called on it, but it would still be a far cry from suggesting someone encouraged or deserved unwanted attention.

It’s a fine line you walk. The situation is the similar when talking about the issue of rape. No woman who dresses overtly sexy “wants” to get raped, but sometimes it happens. It should be ok to say “Watch how you dress, because you know how some people will look at you and get the wrong impression and act on it,” but that’s not politically correct and is seen as somehow “blaming” the victim, when in actuality what you’re saying to a woman about protecting herself is no different than what you’d say to a young adult being trusted to be at the mall by themselves, or with their friends. You tell them: Don’t talk to strangers, don’t walk by yourself anywhere, and don’t get in the car with anyone you don’t know. Such advice is not 100% foolproof against sexual assault or kidnapping, but it could lessen the chances of it happening.

Anyway, that’s my rambling .02. Your thoughts?

Photo credit.–

The wackiness of Michigan Democrat politicos

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Two stories to draw your attention to on this hazy Friday evening:

First, the Detroit News editorial board today slammed State Senate Democrat Mark Brewer for his suggestion about having proposals on the ballot next year that would likely kill what little bit of economy Michigan’s got left:

Mark Brewer seems determined to prove that Michigan Democrats are incapable of providing responsible leadership during the state’s moment of crisis.

The state Democratic Party chairman is proposing a package of ballot initiatives that would raise the minimum wage to $10 an hour, increase and extend unemployment insurance benefits, slash utility rates and place a moratorium on home foreclosures.

Any one of these job-killing, budget-busting measures would drive Michigan beyond the reach of economic recovery. It’s hard to say whether his ideas are more ridiculous or more despicable. Brewer may as well add a proposal requiring the state to write every citizen a $1 million check. The effect of emptying Michigan of job providers and investors would be about the same.

Brewer is a mischief maker whose only objective is to score political points, regardless of the damage done in the process. Last year, he attempted a ballot drive that would have rewritten the state Constitution to enshrine a permanent Democratic advantage.

That self-serving effort was derailed by elected Democrats who recognized it as an indefensible power grab. Who knows what Democrats worried about an anti-Jennifer Granholm backlash in 2010 will do with this package? But if they have any regard for the future of Michigan, they’ll denounce it as a dangerous distraction to the hard work ahead.

Brewer is exploiting the fears and desperation of suffering Michigan residents, trying to deceive them into believing Michigan’s employer base can ease all of their troubles with rich state-mandated benefits. To get votes, he would make Michigan an economic wasteland. To get votes, he would do anything.

Not mentioned in that piece is that Brewer, the Democrat Party Chairman for Michigan, has also suggested that voters be allowed to vote on whether or not employers should be forced by law to provide healthcare coverage to their employees. Even some state Demcrats are stepping back from his ideas:

A list of possible November 2010 ballot proposals from Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Mark Brewer has sparked controversy from within the party, including concerns about their economic impact.

The party this week began an online poll of Democratic activists, tallying where they stand on the proposed ballot measures. They include raising the minimum wage from $7.40 to $10, mandating employer-provided health care and increasing unemployment benefits.

As expected, Brewer drew fire from the business community and Republicans. But some Democrats — including some Grand Rapids legislators — are not embracing his ideas, either.

“I can honestly say that I couldn’t support any of the Brewer proposals,” Rep. Roy Schmidt, D-Grand Rapids, said in an e-mail. “I believe the entire package would be extremely harmful to business growth and development in Michigan. I hope Mr. Brewer will accept that we, as elected officials, are charged with the responsibility to forge public policy and come to conclusions that meet the needs of our citizens.”

Schmidt said he wasn’t clear how Brewer came to his conclusions, or with whom, but they must be based on information that’s very different from what’s presented in the House.

Rep. Robert Dean, D-Grand Rapids, questioned the proposals’ impact on jobs.

“We want to create jobs by helping businesses succeed so they can employ people,” he said. “Would this help the business climate or not?”

Business groups say no.

“This is an attack on job providers,” said Jared Rodriguez, vice president of government affairs for the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce. “How can you not expect companies to go out of business?”

Rich Studley, president and chief executive officer of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, said the proposals will hurt efforts to create jobs and improve business. Nearby states like Indiana will be the beneficiaries as companies leave Michigan because of the requirements, he said.

Brewer said his ballot initiatives wouldn’t be needed if lawmakers were responsive to people’s needs.

“People haven’t suffered in this state like this since the Depression,” he said. “I don’t think we can afford not to help. A wage of $7.40 per hour still leaves a family of four living in poverty.”

Michigan has the country’s highest unemployment rate, at 15.4%. Does Brewer think that raising the minimum wage is going to keep what few jobs there are left in Michigan, and create more?

Not to fear, US House and Senate Dems want to ride to the rescue with a plan of their own:

WASHINGTON, July 24 (UPI) — Some Democratic lawmakers from Michigan are viewing the Guantanamo detainees as a possible means of boosting their state’s finances, legislators say.

Several Democrat members in the U.S. House and Senate are floating the idea of housing detainees from the U.S. detention facility in Cuba in Michigan prisons set to close because of the state’s budget crunch, The Hill reported Friday.

The move would save or create jobs in a state with the nation’s highest unemployment rate of 15.4 percent.

Democratic Sen. Carl Levin and Reps. Bart Stupak and Dale Kildee say Michigan prisons could house the Gitmo detainees as long as nearby residents and state and local officials agreed to the move.

I’m sure, in addition to raising the minimum wage 35% and mandating that employers provide healthcare coverage, a hometown Gitmo would be huge draw for businesses wanting to invest in Michigan (insert eye roll here).

As a side note, and assuming that the Gitmo prisioners will be housed in Michigan at some point in the future, I wonder what the criminal ratio would be between a) the existing hardcore criminals already serving time in MI prisons, b) the Gitmo terrorists, and c) the corruptocrats in the Michagan Democrat party? Hmmm …

Cross-posted to Right Wing News, where I am helping guestblog for John Hawkins on Sundays.

Why won’t President Obama shut up about the Gates arrest?

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Because he just sounds more stupid about it by the second:

President Obama today stood by his comments that the Cambridge, Mass., police department acted “stupidly” in its arrest of Henry Louis Gates, telling ABC News that the Harvard University professor should not have been arrested.

“I have to say I am surprised by the controversy surrounding my statement, because I think it was a pretty straightforward commentary that you probably don’t need to handcuff a guy, a middle-aged man who uses a cane, who’s in his own home,” Obama said.

Except if he’d have read the danged police report, he’d have seen that the issue was a hell of a lot more complicated than how he’s making it out to be. The way he misrepresents the scene and circumstances of the incident in this interview is even more of an indication of how this President knows well how to demagogue an issue when it suits his political purposes.

Continuing:

In an exclusive interview with ABC’s Terry Moran to air on “Nightline” tonight, Obama said it doesn’t make sense to him that the situation escalated to the point that Gates was arrested.

“I think that I have extraordinary respect for the difficulties of the job that police officers do,” the president told Moran. “And my suspicion is that words were exchanged between the police officer and Mr. Gates and that everybody should have just settled down and cooler heads should have prevailed. That’s my suspicion.”

The president said he understands the sergeant who arrested Gates is an “outstanding police officer.” But he added that with all that’s going on in the country with health care and the economy and the wars abroad, “it doesn’t make sense to arrest a guy in his own home if he’s not causing a serious disturbance.”

Tom Maguire, who has taken to calling Obama “President Stupidly,” has the best response I’ve seen yet to that last particular bit of nonsense coming from our celebrity President:

Almost! With two wars and a faltering health care reform effort, maybe President Stupidly should not be bloviating about local police matters, especially when he does not have the facts.

Amen.