Another one bites the dust.
- The School Superintendent: felony counts of obstructing justice and tampering with evidence
- Elementary School principal: failing to report possible child abuse
- Strength coach: failing to report possible child abuse
- Former volunteer coach: several misdemeanor charges, including making false statements and contributing to underage alcohol consumption
The quarterback of the 10-0, #2 ranked Florida State University football team, Jameis Winston, is being investigated following accusations of rape. Winston, who submitted to a voluntary DNA test earlier this month, is saying the December 2012 incident was consensual. State attorneys are investigating and considering whether or not they have enough evidence to charge him.
You’ll remember from our posts about the Steubenville Ohio rape case and the multiple incidents of rape at the University of Montana that we believe that “entitled, above-the-law, larger-than-life [attitudes], apparently instilled into male athletes as early as high school, lead to more entitlement and more disrespect for women as boys become men” and that “special treatment afforded to athletes that can ill-effect their behavior can also protect them from consequences of that behavior.” Heart-breakingly, I feel like we are a broken record when it comes to talking about this stuff, so I won’t re-hash our old posts further.
I have a theory: the level of entitlement and amount of special treatment is greater when the player is more talented and the stakes are higher. For example, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was suspended six games in 2010 after an incident involving alleged rape of a woman (charges were never brought). Entering the season the Steelers were already considered contenders. At the time of his suspension, ESPN wrote:
There are plenty of championship pieces remaining from that team, including 18 starters, for the Steelers to contend again. The schedule appears to be accommodating. The Steelers play three teams that didn’t make the playoffs this past season — the Falcons, Buccaneers and Tennessee Titans – plus the division rival Baltimore Ravens in their first four games.
Pittsburgh hosts the Cleveland Browns in its fifth game and travels to Miami to face the Dolphins in its sixth game. The Steelers have a bye in Week 5, meaning Roethlisberger might have two weeks to practice before he plays, if his suspension is reduced.
There’s nothing to suggest NFL schedule makers were aware of the length of Roethlisberger’s suspension in advance. Still, the first of the Steelers’ five prime-time games isn’t until Oct. 31 — or after his potential return.
Indeed, the Steelers won the games against Falcons, Bucs and Titans. They lost to the Ravens. And sure enough — citing a change in behavior of course — the NFL reduced Roethlisberger’s sentence to four games, and allowed him to resume practice six days before their Bye Week, or two weeks before their game against the Browns. The Steelers would make it all the way to the Super Bowl, where they lost to the Green Bay Packers.
You may think I sound a little tin-hatty. But with the amount of money on the line for every football game, is it so hard to believe that someone in the NFL encouraged the organization to bring him back early because he was good at football and his team was good at football? I wish this was as far-fetched as it might sound.
The FSU football team, with Winston at the helm, are undefeated, and have gone from finishing last year ranked #10 to #2. Winston is a leading Heisman Trophy candidate. If he was suspended, what would happen to this exciting narrative? Do you think anyone at FSU, or in the NCAA, would allow that to happen?
I believe as much as anyone that a person is innocent until proven guilty, but if he is charged and the case becomes a “he said she said” battle of credibility (and it likely would, since consent is what’s at issue), can we really expect a jury of Winston’s peers — local Tallahasseeans in the heart of college football country — to ignore a conviction’s impact on the team? Can we expect the prosecutor to present a strong case showing there was no consent beyond a reasonable doubt?
Under these conditions real victims don’t stand a chance. And the statements of the woman’s attorney not only echo this sentiment, but are sadly really not pro-victim at all:
She’s not someone with any interest in ruining the football team. If this victim was interested in notoriety, why would she have not taken any action all this time? Anyone with a brain can see that. It’s ludicrous. It only came out when someone from the press got ahold of this. It’s really ruined her life. There’s no benefit in this to her whatsoever. She’s a good girl, and this is a nightmare. She was trying to move on with her life, and there was no benefit to her.
I guess she has no choice but to try to pre-empt the “money grubbing opportunist” trope that so often characterizes victims in these types of cases. But I wish she would frame the case to the media on the victim’s terms, not go in already on the defensive. And why — WHY — does she need to invoke good girl/bad girl language, as if a woman who, let’s just say, had consensual sex with three other football players and was then raped by the quarterback (not an entirely far-fetched scenario if you think about it) would be any less deserving of justice?
This is a challenge, world. Prove me wrong. However this plays out, let it be just and fair. If he is charged and acquitted, or not charged at all, let it be because the evidence does not support a conviction, let it not smack of side deals and special treatment. And if he is charged and found guilty, let the message not be about his future and his life, but about justice for the victim and a push toward changing rape culture in sports.
We’ve written lots about Superbowl/football commercials and how misogynist they are, especially considering the percentage of the football television audience that is female. One company is trying to change that.
Meet Goldieblox, an awesome toy for girls that teaches them engineering basics. From their website:
In a world where men largely outnumber women in science, technology, engineering and math…and girls lose interest in these subjects as early as age 8, GoldieBlox is determined to change the equation. Construction toys develop an early interest in these subjects, but for over a hundred years, they’ve been considered “boys’ toys”. By designing a construction toy from the female perspective, we aim to disrupt the pink aisle and inspire the future generation of female engineers.
You can help change the tenor of the Superbowl commercials by voting in the Intuit Small Business Big Game contest for Goldieblox, one of the four finalists. Check out their commercial, complete with racial diversity and a Rube Goldberg machine designed by the same guys who did the OK Go music videos:
Go! Vote now! And show football-loving people around the country that girls can be engineers, too.
[Please excuse the rampant homerism in this post.]
File this one under Old-But-Still-Awesome news: this summer, just as the Mets were gearing up to host the 2013 MLB All-Star Game, the team brought back one of their old mascots, Mrs. Met.
A little background on her husband, Mr. Met. Mr. Met is the best mascot ever, and I’m not just saying that. In 2012, Forbes Magazine listed him as the #1 mascot in all of sports and he is one of only 17 mascots inducted into the Mascot Hall of Fame (and one of only two from Major League Baseball, along with his archrival the Phillie Phanatic). If you’d like him to endear himself to you in under two minutes, just watch his 2008 This is Sportscenter ad, his t-shirt sniper ad, and his touching Stand Up for Cancer ad with the Phanatic.
Having made his live, costumed debut in 1964, Mr. Met is one of the oldest, if not the oldest, mascot to appear in person, as opposed to merely in illustrated form. Very shortly thereafter, the Mets introduced Mrs. Met, also known then as Lady Met.
Both mascots were scrapped in the ’70s, but Mr. Met was brought back in the ’90s and has been beloved ever since.
Although Mr. and Mrs. Met, along with their three children, appeared in several 2003 Sportscenter ads, including this one, it was not until this year that the organization decided to bring back Mrs. Met. According to one Mets spokesperson, Mrs. Met was able to rejoin the workforce now that their three children are grown (Mrs. Met struggles with a lack of universal childcare and the double day like the rest of us!).
Besides joining Mr. Met for 7th inning stretch festivities (“Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” t-shirt launch etc.), Mrs. Met participated in a ping pong match alongside athletes Brett Gardner, Iman Shumpert, Henrik Lundqvist and Serena Williams. Unsurprisingly, Serena Williams won the round robin tournament, but in a huge upset, Mrs. Met actually beat Serena! Fun stuff.
It’s especially fun because female figures are seriously underrepresented in the mascot world. Around baseball, there is Jalapeno Hannah (say her name with a heavy Pittsburgh accent), who participates in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Great Pierogi Race.
Additionally, the Cincinnati Reds introduced Rosie Red in 2008 to join the team’s other mascots, Mr. Redlegs and Gapper.
Beyond that, I cannot think of others, in baseball or in any sport. So welcome back Mrs. Met! I look forward to seeing more of you in 2014. How many days till pitchers and catchers?
Can you think of any other female mascots?
[We're big fans of the Olympics here at Bloomer Girls, because ALL THE SPORTS and SO MANY FEMALE ATHLETES and WOO AMERICAN NATIONALISM WITH FEW REPERCUSSIONS. However, we are definitely not fans of anti-homosexual legislation, prejudice, and the current political climate of Russia. This means that watching and supporting the Winter Olympics (coming in February 2014) is going to be difficult for us - something Lydia and I intend to address in future posts about the Olympics. For now, however, we'll continue to report on stories of interest surrounding the Olympic sports and their athletes.]
Lolo Jones and Tianna Madison are making a bold move – one that could put them in the record books. Like only two female athletes before them, both U.S. 2012 Olympic track and field team members have made the U.S. Olympic bobsledding team. The team members who compete in the Olympics will be chosen from this group. While it’s not a guarantee that both athletes will actually compete in the Olympics, their teams placed second and third, respectively, in the women’s bobsled team trials, definitely throwing them into contention for racing spots in the Winter Games.
Despite the fact that Madison is an Olympic gold medalist and Jones has never won a medal, every single story I’ve seen has a headline with “Lolo” in it. There’s none including Madison. Jones has more name recognition than Madison, but lots of people think that this popularity came simply because Lolo is pretty and not because she deserves it. It’s unfair to say that an athlete who has competed in two Olympics doesn’t deserve attention for her athletic ability. But it’s also unfair that an athlete who is arguably even more talented isn’t getting equal media treatment. Some of the media coverage has also mentioned how those who have been on the bobsledding team previously are worried that the athletes’ lack of familiarity with teammates might hinder them in Olympic competition. However, it might also be a real positive to have athletes on the team who understand the pressure of the Olympic stage.
If Jones or Madison successfully joined the bobsledding team, they would become one of fifteen athletes to ever compete in both the Winter and Summer Olympic games. If Madison successfully joined the bobsledding team and medaled, she would become only the third female athlete to medal in both the Summer and Winter Olympics. Christa Luding-Rothenburger (East Germany; Germany) won the speed skating gold at 500m (1984) and 1,000m (1988), silver at 500m (1988) and bronze at 500m (1992) and the Match Sprint Cycling silver (1988.) She is the only athlete ever to win medals in both the Winter and Summer Games in the same year (and will likely be the only person ever to do so now that the Winter and Summer games are off-years.) Clara Hughes (Canada) won the Individual Road Race Cycling bronze and Individual Time Trial Cycling bronze (both in 1996) and the 5,000m Speed Skating bronze (2002.)
Despite how you may feel about the coverage, it’s an incredible feat for these two athletes. Since my MO during the Olympics is always to cheer for weird statistics and fun trivia, I’m certainly hoping that Jones and Madison make the team.
It’s football time in America (despite how much I might want to be in denial – for me, all fall time is baseball time.) Alyssa Rosenberg has a great article over at ThinkProgress today about how the National Football League (NFL) is actively engaging its female fan base this season. Rosenberg discusses the NFL women’s apparel advertisement that has been shown multiple times during football games (I know this because I’ve seen it! And by “I’ve seen it” I definitely mean “was watching football, saw the ad, and shot up out of my seat shouting “DID YOU SEE THAT?!”) The advertisement focuses on women wearing NFL apparel that actually fits them (how nice) and doesn’t even come close to questioning whether they are true fans. It just accepts them as fans, period.
The ad wouldn’t be at all remarkable if it were for a shoe store, or for Kohl’s, but I think I appreciate it because the ad doesn’t feel any need to pretend that women are concealing their fandom, or are learning about football, or are putting on their enthusiasm as a way to humor their husbands. Ads like the terrible Bud Light commercial that presents a man who’s totally befuddled by the Quinoa burgers that his wife keeps throwing in their tailgate cooler, and that treats a feminine impulse as antithetical to the Truth Of Football act as if men are birthright citizens to the nation of the NFL, while women are befuddled immigrants. The Women’s Apparel Collection ad, by contrast, sees no contradiction between being a woman and being a massive fan: for these women, their team apparel is as indispensable to them a snappy yellow blazer, or a high-fashion vest that looks fresh off the runway, and it goes just as well with a skateboard, a catwalk, or a baby. And all the things women do in that ad are announced, by a grave, male voice, as if they’re as weighty as the gridiron contests that get the same voiceover treatment.
We discussed at length last year how the NFL was finally focusing on marketing apparel for women. Women account for 45% of the NFL fan base, and so to some extent, it just makes financial sense for the league to finally start catering towards women.
I was at Yankee Stadium twice last week, and I noticed that the Yankees were advertising an in-stadium apparel shop devoted solely to women’s apparel. Frankly, I was afraid to go look because I assumed it would just be all-pink and all-PINK merchandise. But again – and this is kind of a big deal – it acknowledges that women make up a significant percentage of the fan base and want to purchase apparel that fits them!
Don’t worry, though. PINK is still selling vaguely sexualized apparel for football season with stupid slogans on it, like this:
It seems Lydia and I will still have apparel about which to complain after all.
Today we have a special guest post from Elaine Filadelfo, friend and supporter of Bloomer Girls Blog. By day, Elaine (@urchkin) works for Twitter, researching and telling stories about the way Twitter is used in sports, politics, and TV. By night, she’s at SF Giants games. She received a masters degree in Gender, Media, & Culture in 2011.
After watching Yoenis Cespedes rake in the Home Run Derby, I was in one of those the-remote-is-on-the-coffee-table-which-is-way-too-far kind of moods, so on came ESPN’s broadcast of the Celebrity Softball Game (pardon me, Taco Bell All Star Legends and Celebrity Softball Game). And wow, am I so glad/depressed that I ended up watching it: I was treated to an hour of commentary from Aaron Boone & John Anderson that blatantly objectified women and patronized female athletes & fans.
It all began with Boone & Anderson introducing viewers to the concept of a celebrity softball match by saying “we can all play softball” — said, no less, while Jennie Finch – one of the best athletes (no, not just ‘female athletes’) of our generation – was getting ready on the mound.
But this was just their verbal-misogyny batting practice. Their game commentary, particularly whenever a woman was at bat, was a three-tool mix of pure condescension, egregious objectification, and wonderment at women’s athletic interests. [Disclaimer: I couldn’t usually tell which one was talking, so I apologize if the blame should be shouldered more by one commentator than the other. However, in several instances you’ll see that there was a two-way conversation, indicating that both Boone & Anderson were participating.]
For all of the women who came to bat, they felt the need to offer proof of her credentials as a baseball fan. No, not even her credentials as a player on a team, but the simple fact that yes, a singer or an actress can indeed be a “real” fan. To wit: “[Alyssa Milano] is baseball cuckoo. She is a rabid Dodgers fan, has season tickets behind the dugout. She is a real baseball junkie.” And: “This girl [Ashanti], loves her sports. I don’t know if you caught her [on ESPN], but she knows her stuff.”
This is one of the oldest tricks in the yes-Virginia-there-is-misogyny book, but it’s just such a useful mental exercise. Imagine a gender reversal. Would a man be described as “knowing his stuff” or is it just presumed that he of course knows his stuff? Can you imagine a man being described as “cuckoo” for a sport or a team? No, he’s just a fan – maybe a dedicated or die-hard fan – not someone who is concomitantly described as bird-like and crazy. Oh wait: you don’t have to imagine. No justification was given for Chord Overstreet’s participation. We didn’t hear about his loyalty to a certain team or that he actually does understand baseball. Kevin James? He was simply referred to as having played softball in character in his TV show… but what about the proof that really does go to games in real life? This is yet another example of marginalizing the female sports fan (<– I shouldn’t even need that qualifier). For the men participating, it’s taken as a given that they must be a sports fan; for the women, the default is that they are not. Remember, this isn’t just problematic for women: this kind of thinking also tees up the (often homophobically-tinged) taunting that men can get for not being sports fans.
So then, how did Boone & Anderson cover the play on the field? What happened when Ashanti didn’t run to first base after hitting a soft dribbler to the mound? Commentary: “you gotta run! you gotta run! …. oooh wait the running!” (It’s hard to get across condescending tones of voice in a blog post… if I find a clip, I’ll link this and any other excerpts.) And when a routine fly ball went right over the shoulder of Darryl Strawberry, an 8-time All Star & 4-time World Series champ, there wasn’t a peep. Sure, the former softball player in me definitely cringed and rolled my eyes at Ashanti’s blunder — but that doesn’t excuse patronizing commentary unevenly distributed.
And then there was the objectification. Let me just present these quotations and let them shine as the all-stars of objectification that they are:
“We see Alyssa Milano, who I had my first crush on when I was about 11 or 12 years old”
“[Milano] should be higher in the lineup” [than hitting twelfth]
“I think she’s a 12″
“Jennie Finch against Miss America, I’m just gonna sit and let the beauty wash over me.”
“That’s strike three, I’m not sure why. Shouldn’t you be allowed to go until you hit one?”
“When Miss America comes up next time we should just stop talking”
“Mallory Hagen, Miss America. We’re not gonna talk.”
These are all verbatim comments from the course of tonight’s hour-long game. It goes without saying that there were no similar comments about the male participants. (If this were an academic paper, I’d footnote here to mention the fat-shaming conversation about Kevin James’ weight when he slid into second.) When reading through the batting order, their immediate reaction to Milano’s presence is to comment not only on her appearance, but on a specific sexual attraction to her. Even an attempt to actually discuss a female participant in the manner in which a game commentator should – reviewing the batting order – reverts into a cheesy, immature joke about how attractive she is. As for the comments about Jennie Finch and, particularly, Mallory Hagen (Miss America), I’m almost at a loss for words. Anyone who sees those comments and doesn’t immediately see them as sexist and objectifying probably won’t be swayed by whatever explication I put forth. But I’ll try.
Consider the fact that their JOB is to provide commentary on a baseball game (even a meaningless exhibition like this) – that is, their only task is specifically to talk while play is happening. So all this talk about not-talking is saying that these women exist on the field only for them and viewers to look at. That their job is rendered either pointless or futile because nobody would care about anything they’d say, only what these women (again, one of whom is an Olympic athlete) look like. (I’m not even going to touch the homoerotic overtures in these statements.) It’s also suggesting that their roles in the game are meaningless — would they be able to “just stop talking” if one of them hit a home run? Were any of the commentators during the Home Run Derby saying they should just stop talking to appreciate how fluid and strong Cespedes’ swing is? Or so that viewers could take in the touching moment of Ron Harper pitching to his son Bryce?
Anderson & Boone’s comments serve to objectify and demean the women involved, by specifically inviting the viewer to gaze upon them as sexually attractive bodies, not as athletes (given that there was no discussion of their athletic ability). These comments also further marginalize all women athletes by suggesting that a woman’s performance on the field is quite literally un-remarkable (but her appearance sure is), and that she needs a justification for participation in athletic endeavors.
Fortunately, the game was only five innings. Translation: they managed to cram all this offensive inanity into just five innings. I couldn’t tolerate any more.
(On the plus side, Lydia would be proud to note that the one bright spot of the evening came when Mike Piazza was asked about catching Jennie Finch between innings, and he responded “she’s a great athlete; it’s fun to catch some gas again”. That’s how you talk about a female athlete — no, that’s how you talk about an athlete.)
Was my reaction to reading on ESPN that Andy Murray said he’d like to play a match against Serena Williams. ”I’ve never hit with her,” Murray said, “but she’s obviously an incredible player, and I think people would be interested to see the men play against the women to see how the styles match up.”
I would! I would!
Williams was (uncharacteristically) humble when asked about Murray’s comments, saying, ”Really? He wants to play me? Is he sure? That would be fun. I doubt I’d win a point, but that would be fun.” And then after two unrelated questions: ”Just to finish the Andy question. Maybe I can get a game. I’m not sure, but I think I can get a game.”
Regardless of the outcome, it’d be fun to see this happen every once in a while, especially at Wimbledon, where only six years ago Serena’s sister Venus fought for equal prize money in the men’s and women’s tournaments.
Is there a petition I can sign or something?