Ladies, I have some bad news. Your breasts, booty, and that secret treasure that hides betwixt your legs is for a man’s enjoyment only, and he has the right to verbally degrade, dehumanize, and dishonor you, especially if you wear clothing that highlights your physical features. Men are nothing but poor, helpless creatures that hold no dominion over their own fiendish, sexual desires and impulses. So, when you traipse around in your form-fitting blouses or super-snug jeans, you should expect and accept the onslaught of catcalls, comments, and maybe even a gesture or two, especially if you’re dressed that way at work. At least that’s the load of hot, steaming crap being served up by those blaming Mexican sports reporter Ines Sainz for the recent New York Jets sexual harassment controversy.
Ines Sainz is the TV Azteca sports reporter who recently made headlines after members of the New York Jets football team allegedly sexually harassed her. The incident happened when Sainz went to a Jets practice for a pre-arranged interview with team quarterback Mark Sanchez, a third generation Mexican-American. During the practice, players and coaches reportedly threw passes in Sainz’ direction in order to get near her and to get her attention in the stands. Afterwards, in the locker room, several teammates allegedly made a series of catcalls to Sainz, even as she was conducting the interview with Sanchez (who behaved professionally). The incident has sparked a nationwide debate on women’s roles in sports reporting, as well as how women can and should dress.
I’ll concede that Sainz has a body that would make a Victoria’s Secret model run and purge, especially considering that she has three children with her TV producer husband. Sainz’ large breasts, small waist, and shapely bottom are nothing short of breathtaking. But was her outfit that day all that out of line? Were here breasts completely on display like a Foster Farms sample station in Costco? Was she showing an excess amount of skin? Not really. While her clothes were tight, Sainz is just an incredibly voluptuous woman. How dare she (insert sarcasm here)!
Joe Simpson, pop singer Jessica Simpson’s father/manager infamously said it best in 2004 when referencing his daughter’s clothing: “She’s got double D’s! You can’t cover those suckers up!” To a certain extent, he’s right. Ines Sainz could wear Missy Elliot’s Hefty bag from the “I Can’t Stand the Rain” video, and you could still see that she’s a curvy gal.
Yet, one popular critique is that Sainz’ brought the harassment on herself with her unprofessional attire. However, while Sainz was interviewing a Mexican-American football player, she was doing so for a TV station in Mexico, a country whose views on sexuality, clothing and women’s roles are different from ours here in the United States. Critics have slammed Sainz’ outfit as unbecoming of a reporter, and in our country it might be. But like it or not, the rules are different in Mexico. If anything, the fact that Sainz, who holds a Bachelor’s in Law and a Masters in Tax law, has to dress in such form-fitting gear in order to be as successful as she has been, is reason to promote gender equality the world over, not to attack her or her credibility. We can ridicule Sainz until she wears looser clothing, but we’re not the ones who watch her news reports. If her viewership dwindles, or she loses her position at TV Azteca, are we going to give her a job in the American media? Well, maybe Fox News. They seem to only hire female reporters if they look like former beauty queens anyway…
While it’s true that how you dress can determine how you’re perceived, that doesn’t make it necessarily condone the unwarranted actions of others. If Sainz should accept lewd behavior because of her tight clothes, then should Black and Latino men in baggy pants accept being followed in stores by White personnel, just in case they steal? Should they be okay with being harassed by police officers because they’re sporting Rocawear instead of Brooks Brothers? Who gets to make those rules?
Supporters of Sainz have argued, “What if it was your daughter, or sister, or mother,” being harassed. While I find this to be an affective argument, I would like pose the following question to the men (and to a certain extent, the women) who believe Sainz is to blame for this incident: How would you feel if it was you?
What if you were reporting on a gay football game (in case you weren’t aware, there are gay sports leagues), and while interviewing a player, a locker room full of burly, naked gay men the size of Mack trucks were hurling sexually explicit comments back and forth about the way your ass pops in your slacks, or how they’d like to insert certain things in places you’ve deemed as “exit only”? Or, what if you were walking down the street and a group of gay men decided to yell sexual obscenities at you because the way your “package” flopped around in your basketball shorts was just too much for them not to comment? Would you say, “I brought it on myself for wearing shorts” or “It’s my own fault for wearing a short-sleeve polo”? Or do you think that your male privilege somehow makes it okay to degrade a woman, but not a man?
By the way, it doesn’t, and that’s why it’s almost laughable that so many seem to be embracing this idiotic notion that Sainz, or any woman who has assets to show, deserves to be mistreated. We all have sexual urges, thoughts, and desires, but part of what makes us human is the ability to exercise a certain level of control and reason. Our actions are not solely dictated by our most basic instincts, and saying that men in a locker room aren’t able to handle themselves in an appropriate manner is not only a cop-out for bad behavior, but an insult to a man’s intelligence.
Of course, this whole situation could have been avoided if women weren’t allowed in men’s locker rooms, right? Maybe. But since a 1985 court ruling, female reporters have been allowed in men’s locker rooms, and that’s not likely to change. Before you say “But men aren’t allowed in women’s locker rooms,” know that they are. Male and female reporters conduct interviews in locker rooms in the WNBA as well as the NBA. The difference is that the leagues allow players 20 minutes after each game to shower before reporters are allowed in to conduct interviews, a rule which the NFL has not yet adopted.
Could Sainz have worn more conservative clothing? Sure. But that’s not the crux of the issue. Blaming the victim for somehow tempting the aggressor, whether male or female, is never okay. The whole, “she was asking for it” excuse is the same bone-headed, cowardly, selfish rhetoric used by rapists, molesters, and drunken frat boys that thought it was okay to force themselves onto another person (anyone remember the Ben Roethelesburger rape accusations?). It’s not a hyperbolic leap to draw the connections of condoning sexual harassment to possible sexual assaults or other abuses in professional and college athletics, and in the world at large. By blaming Ines Sainz because of her clothing, we’re setting the stage for women to be judged, and subsequently harassed, or worse.
Lastly, we can criticize Ines Sainz and say that she needs to behave properly when at work. Aside from her clothing, I haven’t heard of any improper behavior, but fine. That’s the opinion of some. But lets not forget that the Jets players are at work too, even in the locker room. They’re not in some secret, private boy’s club, nor are they in their high school gym. From the moment they step onto the field, until the moment they leave the premises, they are at the office. Even when they are off the field, they are ambassadors of the team in which they play for, as well as their city. That being said, when there is a member of the media present, they should be on their very best behavior, regardless of his or her cup size.
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