Thursday, September 16, 2010

NEWSFLASH: THE NFL BOYS CLUB IS ALIVE AND WELL

If you had never heard of Ines Sainz, or TV Azteca before this week, you most likely have by now. For the past decade, Sainz has been a reporter for Azteca, the second largest Mexican television network. And even though this week was full of events like the last primaries before the November election and fiery anti-American demonstrations in Afghanistan, Ines Sainz emerged as the chief headline-maker. It seems Sainz entered the New York Jets locker room, with full permission to interview Mark Sanchez. Apparently the Jets started catcalling and making offensive comments toward Sainz and before you know it, big headlines coast to coast.

Remarkably, the big controversy here does not seem to be whether it was okay or not for the players to do what they did. The controversy has more to do with Sainz’s tight clothing. The good old American boys club has risen up en masse to blame Sainz for what happened. And the most boisterous part of the American population has also risen up in defense of the players. Sainz, they say, has jeans that are too tight, a chest that is too big and a gender that is unwelcome in the locker room of a professional sports team. Reportedly, when another reporter in the locker room asked Sainz if she was okay, Jets lineman Kris Jenkins (above, left) piped up with, “This is our locker room.”

None other than Rush Limbaugh said on his radio show the next day, “The locker room is a refuge for the players. What was she doing in there anyway?” He then referred to Sainz as “bootylicious.” Associated Content, from Yahoo put forth this headline: “Ines Sainz Says 'No' to Provocative Dressing as Her Breast Pours Out of Her Shirt.” During a FOX interview later that day, while Sainz was explaining to the anchorman what happened, FOX put up a photo of Sainz in a form fitting short dress and pulled in a tight closeup. Then they showed a photo of Sainz in the jeans she was wearing the day of the incident, at which time the anchor said, “There are the jeans you were wearing. Could they get any tighter?”

It gets worse. Clinton Portis (right) of the Washington Redskins chimed in with these comments: "And I mean, you put a woman and you give her a choice of 53 athletes, somebody got to be appealing to her," he said. "Somebody got to spark her interest, or she's gonna want somebody. I don't know what kind of woman won't, if you get to go and look at 53 men's packages." Portis had nothing to say about the Jets behavior. Evidently he believes any woman in sexy clothing is fair game for caveman humor. Later he apologized for his comments, clearly having been called on the carpet by the higher ups.

There’s more: Arizona Cardinals defensive tackle Darnell Dockett (left) got all a-Twitter about the incident. He tweeted this: “All I can do is LOL at the jets Female Reporter! She walks into a locker room full of men and think some one not gonna say nothing LMFAO. I don't know what was said to her or whatever but u just have to know u going into a TEAM LOCKEROOM, and if its that serious WOMEN STAY OUT!" Dockett was accommodating enough to include a photo of Sainz, with this comment: "Now why would u wear this!!! IM DONE!!"

Predictably, Dockett apologized later, after the inevitable slap on the wrists by the big boys in Arizona.

The day this all happened, I was driving home with WRNO 99.5 FM playing on my radio, listening to media throwback/talk show host John Osterlind, during the coveted evening drive time hours. Osterlind devoted a significant part of his show to the Sainz incident, clearly put out that anyone in America could be the least bit upset about how she was treated in the locker room. I called in and told Osterlind that he sounded just like a guy who blames a woman for getting raped because she had on a tight skirt. I also told him that it’s not 1965, and the culture has shifted. I told him if the same thing happened in a corporate setting, the offending catcallers would be called into Human Resources and perhaps their jobs would be on the line. Osterlind’s response: “Paul, you got me all wrong. I’m a feminist. I love women.” Oy. Then he thanked me for the call and disconnected me. Ah, the power of radio.

Later, Osterlind put forth his theory that Sainz got what she wanted out of the whole ordeal. After all, he posited, the next morning she was interviewed on the Today show by Meredith Vieira and on every other major network. Osterlind’s contention is that Sainz wanted the publicity. He also repeatedly referred to Sainz as a “so-called reporter.”

It is clear that Osterlind is in the majority as it relates to the reaction to Ines Sainz. No one has taken the time to mention that Ines Sainz has a law degree from the Universidad de la Valle in Mexico, and a master’s degree in tax law. I’m thinking that before the entire U.S. population writes the woman off as a flake, we might want to step back from her breasts and recognize her credentials and the fact that she has reported for Aztec TV for almost a decade.

Let the masses fight it out about Ines Sainz. I’m more focused right now on the Jets players. We are here in post-feminist America, in 2010 having this same old conversation we used to have ad infinitum in the 1970s. The same day the Sainz incident happened all of the predictable women’s groups came forward with the buzzword, “harassment,” and men coast to coast came forward with “shut up.” We start to think maybe we have taken a step forward and then a bunch of 20-somethings with too much testosterone pumping through their bodies and more money than any kid would ever know how to handle, show us the step forward we thought we had taken was a fa├žade. Same old, same old.

Why did someone in the Jets organization not go down to that locker room and spit out the word “respect” to these guys and start to lift the bar on this kind of throwback behavior? Are we going to perpetuate the “boys will be boys” b.s. for yet another generation at the expense of everybody else? Here is what we get for allowing this frat boy mentality to go on: Just this week, Floyd Mayweather was arrested on domestic abuse charges in Vegas for allegedly punching the mother of his child in the head. Oh, and let’s not leave out NFL legend and CBS sports analyst Shannon Sharpe, who was arrested this week for allegedly forcing a woman to have sex with him and threatening her life. Gainesville, FL police reported this week that Florida State player Chris Rainey was arrested for sending his on-again, off-again girlfriend a text message that said simply, “Time to die, bitch.” And let’s not forget Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger,(left) currently serving a four-game suspension for allegedly sexually assaulting a woman in a bar. And while we’re at it, how about former NFLer Mark Fields who beat up the mother of his child, outside of a day care center while the child was present?

The list goes on. Athletes are still being given a major pass on behavior that other citizens know will end their careers, their marriages and their big, fat paychecks. Every time we let a bunch of NFL players do their male bonding thing by humiliating a woman, we validate their free pass to buck societal norms, to empower themselves to chuck gentlemanliness for savagery and to simply further their misguided sense of entitlement. Two words for these guys: Grow Up.

1 comment:

keri0517 said...

I like how the picture used for Darnell Dockett is of him throwing a Bloods sign. Good role model all around it seems. So sad.