Robbing Male Athletes of Their Rights One Locker Room at a Time
Over the last 40 years the public workplace has changed. It went from being a largely male realm to a more balanced one in regard to the sexes. Women now work outside the home in numbers essentially equal to that of men. With this influx of female workers into the public workplace it has undergone possibly the greatest transformation since the beginning of the Industrial Age. The presence of females in a previously all-male environment required men to take down pornographic or semi-pornographic pictures from their work area and cartoons or jokes posted on walls that were deemed offensive to women were likewise banished as businesses faced charges of sexual harassment or fostering hostile work environments if they did not conform to the sensitivities of the new egalitarian workforce. This is as it should be. No woman should be subjected to images, words, or behavior in the workplace (or anywhere else) that degrades or humiliates her. But neither should men.
The Feminist Movement has been exceedingly successful at opening doors of opportunity to women who choose to pursue careers previously regarded as off limits to them. Examples would be fighter pilot, fire fighter, police officer, prison guard, construction worker, corporate CEO, etc. Businesses and organizations quickly learned that denying a woman an opportunity to compete with a man for open positions risked facing the wrath of women’s groups happy to file a lawsuit on her behalf to protect her rights. But women soon discovered that having the same job titles and positions as men did not always allow them access to the same resources to do their jobs as their male counterparts. Nowhere was this more evident than with the female sports reporter.
Prior to the feminist movement participation in sports was almost exclusively a male activity covered by male sports reporters. And part of their job was to interview players in the men’s locker room. But as females began to take up the profession of Sports Reporter a problem arose. Male sports reporters, because of their sex, had an advantage over female sports reporters. Male reporters could enter the men’s locker room getting quotes from the players while their female counterparts were required to wait outside. As a result the men where filing their stories before the women even had a chance to speak with the players. The inequity was obvious. Something needed to be done. And something was.
During the 1977 World Series Bowie Kuhn, Major League Baseball Commissioner at the time, denied Melissa Ludtke, a Sports Illustrated reporter, access to the men’s locker room. Time, Inc. filed a lawsuit on Ludtke’s behalf arguing that female reporters should have equal access to the locker room. The result? In 1978 Federal Judge Constance Baker Motley ruled that male and female reporters should have equal access to the player’s locker rooms citing the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment.
This was the crack in the wall that led to the National Football League in 1985 to issue an equal access policy requiring every team to admit both male and female reporters entrance into the player’s locker room. Today, every professional sports league allows female reporters in the men’s locker room. But due to the privacy issues involved women in a men’s locker room when they are showering and in various stages of undress, including full nudity, meet with protests that bubble to the public surface from time to time.
In 1999, Reggie White, an NFL star recently retired at that time, authored “Fighting the Good Fight: America’s �?Minister of Defense’ Stands Firm on What It Takes to Win God’s Way”. As an NFL player he was directly impacted by female reporters being allowed in the men’s locker room. In his book he made the comment:”I see no legitimate reason for forcing male athletes to walk around naked in front of women who are not their wives.” The feminists pounced upon his audacity to question the right of females to enter men’s locker rooms. He was mocked and ridiculed; his observation that he had seen female reporters ogling guys in the locker room was treated dismissively thus challenging his integrity.
Most recently Lance Briggs, a line backer for the Chicago Bears, came under fire from feminists when he made the comment, “Women don’t belong in the locker room”, to Peggy Kusinski of NBCChicago.com following the Ines Sainz incident. Briggs’ audacity to question the right of females to be in the men’s locker room ticked off Pam Oliver, a reporter for Fox NFL SUNDAY, and she let him know it during a one-on-one interview with him. He did not apologize, but he did seem somewhat cowed by her attitude. He said: “It’s the first time I have ever said anything like that. It’s more of a thought, but the locker room is our realm.” It is almost as if he were a little boy trying to justify his bad behavior. Perhaps Oliver wishes she could have washed his mouth out with soap. Having duly chastised Briggs Oliver took comfort in the fact that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell “has our (female reporters) back” by sending all 32 teams a memo reminding them that women have a legal right to be in the men’s locker rooms.
But Goodell and others in similar positions of authority within the wide world of sports have little choice in having the backs of female reporters. They are essentially forced to tolerate this blatant violation of the player’s privacy if they want to keep their jobs. TheAssociation for Women in Sports Media (AWSM) makes sure of that.
When the Sainz/New York Jets story broke the AWSM immediately stepped in to flex their considerable politically correct muscle. “AWSM, the NFL and Jets have been in contact since Saturday evening regarding this situation. Both the NFL and Jets were responsive to our concerns and are investigating the matter.” The result of the “contact” was Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum extending an invitation to the AWSM to hold an “educational session” for his players so they will correctly understand the “media’s mission”. Of course, the AWSM graciously accepted this invitation saying, “AWSM welcomes this opportunity to share our message of advocacy for women in sports media to be treated with respect and professionalism.”
For the AWSM to be invited to share their “message of advocacy for women in sports media” to a captive audience who have no choice but to accept the “message” reveals the power and influence feminist ideologues now wield. If the players wish to keep their jobs they have no choice but to embrace the “message” that fully clothed female reporters will not tolerate naked or semi-naked players creating a hostile work environment by commenting on their looks or what they are wearing or questioning their right to be in the men’s locker room.
In a sleight of hand that would make any professional magician envious feminists have convinced the courts that women are subjected to a hostile work environment when men post naked or semi-naked pictures of women in their workplace (which I agree with.) But when men complain they are being subjected to a hostile work environment when women insist on entering their workplace (though a locker room is an odd workplace!) when they are naked or semi-naked the result is a sexual harassment lawsuit – not against the women, but against the men!
This illusion is preserved by feminists fiercely and swiftly belittling and intimidating any player or sports organization that dares to suggest that men, not women, are the victims when women enter their locker room. It is also preserved by the repeated use of several arguments that prove the truism that if a lie is told often enough it must be the truth.
Part 2 examines a few of the arguments female reporters and feminists use to justify robbing male athletes of their rights.
The Professional Argument
Female reporters justify their presence in men’s locker rooms by saying they are professionals doing their job – just like male reporters. Part of the policy recently sent to all 32 NFL teams reads: “Please remember that women reporters are professionals and should be treated as such…[they are] assigned to cover NFL teams for the same reasons as their male counterparts _ because they are professional reporters with an interest in sports. When female reporters are in your locker room, they are there in a professional capacity.”
The reasoning is that if one is a professional it legitimates one’s occupation. Does that mean a professional Playboy photographer produces “art”, but a non-professional photographer taking the same pictures would be producing pornography? If the “Professional Argument” is taken at face value it would mean theft committed by a “professional thief” would be a legitimate occupation. Obviously, that is not true and anyone who seriously suggested that theft is legitimated because the thief calls himself a professional would be laughed to scorn. Why? Because stealing is wrong whether committed by someone who makes their living stealing or by a one-time shoplifter.
But this is exactly the argument professional female reporters use to bully themselves into men’s locker rooms while the men are showering or in various stages of undress. They claim that as professionals they keep their eyes on their notebooks and the faces of the players; any occurrence of them actually seeing the body of an undressed player is totally accidental and if it does happen their professionalism enables them to forget what they saw and keep their mouths shut. They thereby rationalize they are not guilty of “robbing” these men of their right to privacy and thus, their dignity. They reason that is something only non-professional female reporters (shoplifters as it were) can be guilty of. Really?
In 1999 Amy Sohn, a professional writer and author, was working for the New York Post. She was assigned by her editor, Vicky Ward, to check out the New York Yankee’s clubhouse. Listen to some of the comments made by this professional reporter as she stood outside the locker room: “Joe Girardi, my favorite Yank, comes out. He’s outfitted from the waist down, but wearing a gray cutoff on top, and I have to stop myself from swooning. Up close I can see the cut of his biceps, and as he walks past I ogle his firm, rounded *_*. I know, I know. It’s inappropriate behavior for a journalist. But I can’t help it. The Chippendales of the Bronx are parading past me. How can I not do a few *_*?” (I will not print the words she used. Go to the above link if you wish to fill in the blanks.)
Once inside the locker room Sohn continues with her assignment: “I’m prepared to avert my eyes. I have to maintain professional decorum. I can’t give a bad name to the female journalist who’s already walked in. I take a deep breath and approach, vowing not to look *_*. But when I get inside I can’t help but feel disappointed. Nobody’s naked. Out of the ten or so Yankees standing or sitting around the room, not a single one is showing skin.”
Monica Lewis, one of the female sportswriters at the NYP responded to Sohn’s article by saying: “Hopefully, this will all die down. I’m going to cover the Jets game, but I’m not too worried. I’m going to guess that the Jets have more to do than to read Amy Sohn’s little piece.’ How professional. Notice Lewis did not deny the reality of what Sohn wrote. Instead she was counting on time and the players’ ignorance of the truth to maintain the illusion that professional female reporters do not create a hostile work environment for the men.
Similarly, in 2002, Patti Shea, a professional reporter for the Santa Clarita Signal at the time, wrote about her experience in the Dodger’s locker room. Among other things she excitedly describes her delight in seeing Shawn Green nude.
Both Shea and the Santa Clarita Signal were quickly slapped down by the feminist establishment.
Susan Vinella, President of the Association for Women in Sports Media at the time Shea’s locker room report was published, immediately went into damage control. Vinella said: “She does not represent the hardworking professional female sports journalists in this country. Do not judge us by this one foolish individual.” She further refers to Shea as a “rare exception”.
Shea, stung by Vinella’s rebuke as well as the barrage of rebukes she received from others, meekly apologized to her sisters-in-arms. In part she said: “I didn’t think of the repercussions (sic) of the column. Honestly, I didn’t and I can’t explain why. I only hope the damage can be repaired.” That is very telling. She did not say her experience as she related it was inaccurate. She did not apologize for sexually objectifying the men in their locker room. Rather, she apologized for damaging the illusion that female sports reporters become androgynous, non-sexual beings when they enter a men’s locker room. She was also quick to repair that illusion by pointedly saying she was a news reporter, not a sports reporter. But merely putting the adjective “sports” in front of “reporter” in place of “news” does not change the person. These are external titles that do not affect character, morality, or gender. A female sports reporter is still a female who should not be allowed in a men’s locker room.
After chastising Shea Vinella turns her sights upon the newspaper that dared to publish Shea’s candid description of being in the presence of naked and semi-naked male athletes. She said, “I’m pleased to hear the Dodgers have complained to The Signal about the column and are considering banning the paper’s reporters from their press box.“ Ban The Signal’s reporters? Why? For telling the truth?
Kathy Kudravi, a producer with ESPN and member of AWSM, echoed Vinella’s feelings by saying: “What is probably as troubling as Ms. Shea’s silly column is the fact that not one editor at The Signal stopped Ms. Shea from embarrassing herself and her publication.” Of course Shea’s article was embarrassing – to feminists in general and female sports reporters in particular. But the truth is often embarrassing – and problematic for those wishing to maintain the illusion of a lie.
But do you understand what Vinella and Kudravi are advocating? Censorship. And with the considerable power, influence, and clout feminists and women’s groups have upon the media, society, and the courts censorship is a real possibility. It makes one wonder how many times stories like Shea’s are submitted for publication, but rejected out of fear of incurring the wrath of women like Vinella and Kudravi.
At one time such self-censorship by newspapers, magazines, and TV made it difficult to challenge Vinella’s description of Shea as a “rare exception” among female sports reporters. Unfortunately for them, however, the Internet is not as easily silenced as the traditional media. A cursory googling of the subject of female reporters in men’s locker rooms reveals Sohn’s and Shea’s ogling of men in various stages of undress while in their locker room as “professional” reporters is far from a “rare exception”. Confessions of female reporters’ experiences and their reactions while in men’s locker rooms abound that make Sohn’s and Shea’s articles look tame and puritanical by comparison.
Male Reporters Allowed in Women’s Locker Room Argument
One of the most frequent objections female reporters and feminists face when trying to justify their presence in men’s locker rooms is: “Men are not allowed in women’s locker rooms”. They quickly point out that men are allowed in women’s locker rooms. Is this true? Technically, yes.
AWSM emphasizes “that equal access to the locker room for male reporters covering women’s teams is the norm. The WNBA, for instance, has an equal-access locker room policy as does the NCAA women’s basketball tournament.” This statement would make one think male reporters have access to female locker rooms while the players are showering and in various stages of undress, including full nudity, just as female reporters have access to male locker rooms. Is this true?
I emailed AWSM asking if their statement did indeed mean male reporters were allowed in female locker rooms while they were naked. Not surprisingly I received no response. Perhaps part of the reason for their silence is because neither male nor female reporters are allowed access to women’s locker rooms while they are “not decent”.
Part of the WNBA media guidelines are as follows: “The room (locker room) will re-open 5 to 10 minutes after the final buzzer and will remain open for a minimum of 30 minutes. Following the 30-minute media access period, locker rooms will be closed for a 20-30 minute period to allow players to shower and dress. The locker rooms may then again be opened to the media.” Did you catch that? Only after the reporters leave the women’s locker rooms do the players undress and shower.
That is why reporters such as Ann Killion are being less than forthright when they say: “The WNBA…has the same rules as the NBA. Open locker rooms at designated times. In the NCAA tournament, the same rules govern both men and women’s locker rooms — they’re both open at specific times.” To prove her point she speaks of being in an NCAA women’s locker room – along with her male colleagues – seeing a female athlete “devastated” at her poor shooting performance during the game. What Killion fails to mention is this athlete was dressed, just as they are in the WNBA locker rooms.
Dan Steinberg, writing for The Washington Post, attempted to counter this obvious double standard by blaming the male athletes. “Some of you point out that the women aren’t technically naked in these WNBA locker rooms. That’s besides (sic) the point. No one is forcing NFL players to disrobe in front of the media. The locker room is open, and they’re choosing to get naked.” Seriously? They are choosing to be sexually exploited? This reasoning is akin to a man who justifies sexually assaulting a woman because she was in the wrong place at the wrong time or dressed in a way as to lead him to believe she wanted to be assaulted. Blaming victims for crimes committed against them is as offensive as it is outrageous – unless, of course, the victims are male.
Paul Nathanson and Katherine K. Young’s observation (Legalizing Misandry, From Public Shame to Systemic Discrimination against Men,McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2006, pg 118) of the double standard used in Canada’s prisons regarding the right of female guards to infringe upon the privacy rights of male prisoners by frisk-searching them and possibly seeing them unclothed or using the toilet while making their rounds, but forbidding male guards are from subjecting female prisoners to the same treatment is germane. When a male prisoner sued to receive the same level of privacy afforded female prisoners the Supreme Court of Canada ruled against him. Part of their reasoning was the female guards were professionals (see above argument) and the double standard was necessary to ensure their job security. As Nathanson and Young aptly point out: “Exposing men to the prying eyes of women does not constitute a violation of their human dignity, supposedly, but exposing women to the prying eyes of men does” (ibid,118).
Male reporters may be allowed in the locker rooms of female athletes, but to believe feminists and women’s groups would stand idly by while these athletes are subjected to the wandering eyes of these men is naïve. If this were actually happening it would make front page news – and rightfully so.
The Non-issue Argument
As mentioned above Reggie White became a target of feminists and female reporters in 1999 when he took issue with women being allowed in men’s locker rooms. One such reporter was Kelli Anderson writing for Sports Illustrated at that time. She said: “Why is he trying to turn this non-issue into a hot button now, nine years after the last relevant public incident?” Christine Brennan, a past president of the AWSM (surprised?), writing for USA TODAY 11 years after Anderson’s ad hominem attack on White, essentially echoed Anderson: “It’s surreal to me, and surely to the many other women who cover sports, that the topic of female reporters going into men’s locker rooms is somehow in the news again. This issue was resolved by the NFL in 1985 when it granted equal access for female reporters.” Likewise, Cindy Boren states: “Honestly, I really thought this issue was settled decades ago.”
Have you ever noticed that something is a “non-issue” to the individual or group in control of the issue? Slavery was a non-issue for slave owners – until abolitionists raised the conscience of a nation and the world to its despicable evil; women’s suffrage was a non-issue for men – until women organized and took to the streets demanding their voices be heard at the ballot box on an equal footing with men. Segregation was a non-issue for whites – until Rosa Parks had the courage to take a public stand against it by refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a white man, sparking the Civil Rights Movement.
Injustices such as these are always issues to those who are subjected to them. Thus, it is necessary for those who wish to continue to rob others of their basic human rights to silence those who inevitably rise up to fight against evil. But it often takes an extraordinary individual to not only spark the fight for justice, but to remain resolute in his resolve to continue the fight in the face of the intimidation and threats to which he will be subjected. And as Martin Luther King, Jr. experienced firsthand the intimidation and threats can to beyond words, name calling, or character assassination; it can result in being jailed and the loss of life itself.
Interestingly, Brennan drew a comparison between women’s suffrage and this present “non-issue” of female reporters in men’s locker rooms. She said, “Those who find themselves asking this week if female reporters should be allowed in male locker rooms should know that question sounds as outdated as asking if women should vote.” No doubt if women were still fighting for the right to vote the question of women’s suffrage would not be considered outdated by her. Nor will the question of whether female reporters being allowed in male locker rooms be outdated until it, like the right for women to vote, has been answered in a way that is equitable for both men and women.
The “it’s the Law” Argument
Brennan’s arrogance is further revealed when she tried to silence those who speak out against females in men’s locker rooms by tweeting: “ #NFL has had equal access policy since 1985 for men/women reporters. It’s the law and a done deal, folks. Next topic.” This is the “Non-Issue Argument” raised to a higher level. Brennan seems to believe if something is the law that is the end of the matter. Would she believe that if it were still illegal for women to vote? Would she be saying: “It’s the law and a done deal, folks. Next topic.” to those who were fighting to correct the injustice?
Simply because something is legal in no way validates whether it is moral or right. The examples of the past legality of slavery, women unable to vote, and segregation listed above amply confirm that. Few today would argue that those who stood up against these wrongs should have remained quiet because they were lawful. Imagine someone today trying to justify slavery by saying: “It’s the law and a done deal, folks. Next topic.” At the very least he would be blasted as a racist. Yet, this is the same attitude Brennan has toward those who find the presence of females in male locker rooms not just highly offensive, but morally wrong whether it is legal or not.
No doubt other arguments are used by feminists to rationalize the use of double standards to discriminate against men. After all they have little to fear from a politically correct society challenging them regardless of how baseless or ludicrous their arguments may be. That is because“Discrimination against men is perfectly reasonable, many women (and some men) have come to believe, because men supposedly deserve it. They believe that discrimination against men can be justified not only on the grounds of creating more opportunities for women (the means to an end) but also on the grounds of punishing men (the end in itself)” (Misandry, pg 518). This two-edged sword – creating more employment opportunities for women and punishing men – has been effectively wielded by organizations such as the Association for Women in Sports Media. And theyare further emboldened by the fact that “Almost anything can be said about men or done to men, in short, without the expectation of a public outcry” (ibid,pg 312).
But to the chagrin of feminists and female reporters this unjust discrimination toward male athletes will not go away.Killion chastised the New York Jets organization after the Sainz’ incident by remarking: “Every few years, like clockwork, some overpaid athletes act like boorish frat boys and my job becomes a subject of debate.” She ends by saying: “Are we done now? Set the clock. In a few more years, on a slow news day, we’ll probably be talking about this again.” She is clearly attempting, through belittlement and scorn, to squelch any future reoccurrences of having the spotlight shined upon the legalized harassment female reporters subject male athletes to when they set foot in a men’s locker room. But she concedes she will likely fail. Her only consolation is that it will probably be years before it becomes necessary to once again beat down anyone foolish enough to expose the duplicity of males being subjected to circumstances that would clearly be seen as sexual harassment or the creation of a hostile work environment if it were females being subjected to the same circumstances.
The reason this issue will not die is because the immorality of females being in a room where males are in various stages of undress is so plain even a child recognizes it. Randi Druzin, writing for the Women’s Sport Foundation, tells of an incident involving Paola Boivin (another past president of AWSM) when she was in the Arizona Diamondbacks locker room. “During a post-game interview with then-Arizona Diamondbacks infielder Tony Womack, Boivin felt someone tugging on the hem of her jacket. The Arizona Republic reporter looked down to meet the son of then-Diamondbacks outfielder Steve Finley. �?Miss, miss,’ the little boy said. �?You can’t be in here. This place is only for boys.’” The little boy spoke the truth and no argument the feminists or female reporters can conjure up will change that. He knew the difference between right and wrong and had the courage to directly confront the one who was doing wrong. Adults would do well to emulate this little boy week after week after week rather than once every few years until this injustice is brought to an end.
A common theme female reporters frequently express while defending their right to rob males of their basic human right to privacy is their purported disgust with having to enter male locker rooms. Jenni Carlson’s thoughts are typical: “Locker rooms are smelly places. They are dank. They are damp. They are really not fun places to be inside…Going into one is never glamorous or fun, but it has to be done.” Such dedication! Such sacrifice! Such hypocrisy – hypocrisy because the solution to women not having to suffer the nauseating environment of male locker rooms and still being able to do their jobs is simple. Give the players a strict time limit for showering and dressing. Once they have done that require them to attend a media session in a specific location set aside for that exclusive use. But the fact this solution is ignored exposes the true character of those who have the power to insist that it be implemented.
The use of power is an indicator of one’s character. Feminists have for decades complained, with good reason at times, that some men and some businesses used their positions of power to discriminate against women in a variety of circumstances as well as creating and maintaining work places that were clearly offensive, demeaning, and hostile to women. Their anger at such misogyny solidified a general feeling of annoyance toward men and the power they used to maintain the status quo to a unified assault upon all things male. They have been astonishingly successful. Misogyny has been replaced with legalized misandry as laws were passed that now result in men no longer having the presumption of innocence when accused by a woman of some wrongdoing, but must rather defend himself from a position of presumed guilt. It is now legal to discriminate against men because “Women alone have been allowed to decide what is or is not permissible” (ibid, pg 204).
Thus, when female reporters who have the backing of nationally recognized feminist organizations that have the power to give and take away the rights of others at will, complain they must endure the repulsiveness of male locker rooms in order to do their jobs they are attempting to divert attention away from their blatant dissolute and discriminatory behavior toward men.
The fact that attitudes such as those expressed by sports reporter, Cindy Boren, are not challenged as sexist is a testimony of just how mainstreamed discrimination against men has become. She states: “I respect that players may be uncomfortable; God knows I am. But I’m doing my work and getting the heck out of there as quickly as I can. I respect that athletes may not want women in the locker room; they are entitled to that opinion and that must not color my work in anyway.” Let it clearly be stated, women who enter men’s locker rooms are showing zero respect for these athletes. Her remark that some men’s aversion to the presence of females in their locker room is nothing more than an opinion is significant. Imagine a woman being told that a voyeur will not be held accountable for invading her privacy because her objection to the man’s actions is simply her opinion.
The truth is if female sports reporters were the professionals they so loudly claim to be they would use their considerable power, influence, and clout to demand that these athletes they need to speak with have their right to privacy protected. Instead, they happily “rob” these men of their privacy and dignity like common thieves. The best that could be said about them is they are arrogant hypocrites wrapped in a cloak of legalized voyeurism. They take umbrage when they believe men are “undressing” them with their eyes, but become enraged when men dare question why these same women are allowed in a locker room where no such mental gymnastics are needed on their part to undress them. In a very real sense male athletes become the victims of “visual rape” when female reporters are allowed in their locker rooms.
Strong language? Of course. But such bluntness seems to be necessary to effectively bring about needed change. But even with such bluntness it will take someone, whether that someone is male or female, with the courage to take a public stand against very powerful forces that are determined to continue to use their power to deny the basic human rights of those they deem unworthy of those rights. It will take someone with the fortitude to overcome the barrage of verbal and possibly legal assaults that such a stand will surely bring. It will take someone with the courage and fortitude of Rosa Parks. Is that someone, you?