When it comes to society there is a disgusting harassment of women online. That’s even more prevalent when it comes to women who work in the sports industry. Female sportswriters are often the victims of harassment online, whether because it’s something disturbing as men finding it demeaning to have women talk sports to them or simply men looking down upon women who are merely trying to do their jobs as the well-qualified individuals that they are.
The podcast Just Not Sports debuted a PSA focusing on the harassment of female sportswriters online. In the video, real men read hateful tweets to two women – Chicago sportswriters Sarah Spain and Julie DiCaro – to which the tweets are directed.
While the men reading the comments weren’t the ones that wrote them, they were horrified at the comments and found themselves apologizing or unable to look the women – to which these comments were directed – in the eye.
“My Just Not Sports co-hosts and I all work in sports in different areas, so we see the terrible online harassment women sports journalists face,” Brad Burke said in a statement. “Women reporters speak out on this issue courageously, but we wanted to find a new way to make guys see and experience the effects of online harassment.
“The goal of the campaign is just to help bring more attention to the fact that in an era of ‘mean tweets’ some comments are more than mean — they’re harassment. By reading harassment out loud, men are forced to experience the true power behind the words, which is often lost on a screen.”
Harassment – even anonymous, especially anonymous – is never okay. With social media – ranging from Twitter to Tumblr to the comments on websites – there’s an anonymity to it that gives some people the ill-conceived notion that it’s okay to say anything because they’re not saying it to someone’s face. That couldn’t be farther from the truth.
There’s an etiquette lacking on the Internet that should really be enforced. Just because it’s less of a face-to-face interaction does not make it okay to spew hate or threats directed at anyone – especially to people, in this case, women who are merely doing their jobs. Just because you don’t agree with someone else’s opinion does not give you the right to threaten them or harass them.
But here’s the thing. This doesn’t just happen with sports, although I’ve experienced my fair share of hate when it comes to being a woman writing about sports or even just being a fan. This happens no matter what women right about. It’s as if being a women is demeaning and erases all credibility one might have. I’m sorry, am I not smart enough? Am I not competent enough to dabble in a field that’s seemingly been adopted by men? I’m sorry, but on more than one occasion I’ve proven myself more intelligent in sports than most men I come across. And there’s nothing wrong with that – until people start making something of it.
There will be some that will say – “Words are just words.” But the thing is they’re not. To quote a favorite author of mine, “Words have the power to change us.” Words are not insignificant or harmless. They can be cruel; they can be damaging; they can be scary. And the fact that there are so many people in this world that dish out this hate and harassment – and so many that in turn receive that hate and harassment – is fifty shades of ridiculous.
The fact of the matter is women get hate merely for doing their jobs. And not just hate – threats. Threats of rape, killing, etc. I’ve experienced it; a friend of mine has experienced it. It’s not fun. It’s scary and saddening.
If anyone tries to deny that this isn’t something that is largely directed at women then you’ll get a mouthful from me. As is the case in this situation when it comes to women in sports, it’s also the case with women in general.
I recently wrote an Arrow article that took the opposite point of view of someone else’s. Not only did I get harassed in the comments or on social media, but the author of the original piece – a man, no doubt – took to his social media to blast me. I’m sorry, for what? For having a different opinion than you? For being a woman that put your original piece to shame?
He took to using our site’s name – Fangirlish – as a means to discredit me. As if being a “fangirl” is something of a dirty word and means that we don’t know what we’re talking about, which could be further from the truth. The fact of the matter is that “fangirl” is looked down upon because it’s a term associated with young women – passionate young women. And there’s no one our society loves to hate more. But just because someone is passionate, young, or a woman does not discredit what they have to say. Sometimes they’re smarter than some so-called “professionals.”
When it comes down to it, I hope that some of the people guilty of spewing hate or harassment see this video and learn from it. That the next time they go to leave a nasty, malicious comment that they stop themselves and remember that it’s an actual person on the receiving end of that message. They most likely won’t and things likely won’t change, but this video needed to be made. This message needed to be spread. This harassment of women needs to stop.