Approximately two weeks ago, sports reporter Ines Sainz alluded to a degree of sexual harassment towards her in the New York Jets team locker room after their season opener. Even though the story has been mulled over from several different angels already, I wanted to get the ladies’ perspective of the situation.
Question #1: Do you feel the comments made to/about journalist Ines Sainz in the Jets locker room by the players were inappropriate? Why or why not?
NATALIE: No, I don’t think they were inappropriate at all. I feel that by dressing the way she does, she clearly invites any looks and comments thrown her way. I’ve been in the exact same position as her, and I know firsthand that the players are men and will do what all men do. They look, they whisper, and that is just par for the course. It is the responsibility of the female to be a professional. I personally never once felt unwelcomed by any male athlete or coach or the like, but I always took it upon myself to dress respectably and act appropriately. If you want the respect, especially if you are a woman in the presence of men with huge egos in a locker room that is much like a high school classroom, you must DEMAND respect. Frankly, that is the only way to get and keep it.
KIM: I do feel that the comments made to/about Sainz were inappropriate. Whether or not the team members were just messing around (which, who really knows except for anyone actually present at the time of the alleged harassment), it doesn’t make it okay for them to be lewd or flirtatious toward her. Sure, guys will be guys and some guys like to joke around, mess around, whatever, but there’s a huge difference between these guys just making lewd comments about other things while Sainz was present and these guys making lewd comments about or toward Sainz.
CYNTHIA: I have slightly mixed feelings on this subject. First off, the comments made towards Ines Sainz in the Jets locker room were definitely disrespectful. However, when a woman presents herself in an unprofessional manner, such as wearing tight, revealing clothing, it does little to prevent the situation. In fact, all it does is provoke and invite men to gawk and comment. I believe that she wants the attention that she gets from the players, just maybe not in such a harsh way. I cannot see how anyone could take her seriously with the way she dresses. Low cut, see-through shirts. Skin-tight pants. Short, tight dresses. Even I was gawking at her photos. I took it upon myself to Google Miss Ines and found nothing at all to support her case, in my opinion. I tried to sympathize with her, but I believe you get what you put out there. I don’t want anyone to think that I am trash talking a woman wearing tighter fitting clothing or low cut tops, but if you want to be taken seriously as a professional woman in a field dominated by men, it really is NOT a good look.
Question #2: Do you think there is a presence of a double standard with regards to male and female reporters in the locker room?
NATALIE: No. I have plenty of firsthand experience in this area, and have never once been made to feel unwanted or uncomfortable, but always an equal. It is the female reporter’s responsibility to act the way she would like to be treated. Every single time I was within 30 feet of, or interacted with a player, I was stared at, smiled at, and everything else, but as a professional you learn to how to treat those situations. Would I have liked to stop and chat up Sidney Crosby, or stand there and admire Eric Staal in next to nothing? You’re damn right I would’ve, but I didn’t, because I have more respect for my bosses, my organization, and my reputation than I do a craving for a few fleeting seconds of attention from some athlete. The double standard only exists if you let it exist.
CYNTHIA: Yes, I do. Even being a female sports fan is tough. A woman has to go through a fiery obstacle course to be taken seriously sometimes. I have had my share of the double standard as I am sure most of us have.
ANGELA: It’s definitely a double standard and it’s BULLSHIT. Women scream for equal opportunity. Well, this locker room is a perfect example of a woman being given that opportunity. She should feel lucky that she could even be in there to interview players.
KERRI: There is a double-standard and the short answer is “that’s just the way it is.” The same double-standard exists everywhere but is amplified here because in a perfect world a professional environment should have no such thing. Especially in sports media where men’s sports dominate (yes, I almost typed “domonate”), a female reporter will have a harder time gaining respect by her peers and the athletes she is reporting on.
Question #3: How do you feel a woman of the media should present herself in a team locker room (apparel, rhetoric, etc)?
JANET: A woman of the media in a team locker room should dress and conduct herself in a way that is professional and commands respect. I’m not one to support “she asked for it” in regards to the way a woman is dressed—harassment should never be condoned regardless of what the woman is wearing—but if you’re representing a media outlet and want to be taken seriously as a reporter, leave your tight-ass jeans and your cleavage-baring tops at home and conduct yourself in a way that indicates that you respect the job that you were hired to do. Simple as that. If you want to make a spectacle out of your appearance, then perhaps you’re in the wrong line of work.
ANGELA: When going into a locker room a female reporter should dress keeping in mind how she wants to be viewed. If you dress like a professional, you’ll be treated like a professional. It seems pretty damn simple to me. Maybe someone should call Ines Sainz and inform her.
LIZ: The Ines Sainz Kerfuffle is really two different issues. The first is pure sexual harassment – which is what was done to Ms. Sainz. The second issue is different, but still related: how should women in sports media present themselves? While what was done to Ines Sainz was inappropriate, there is no question that she was dressed inappropriately as a broadcaster. Listen, I’m a huge feminist, and I’m all for female self expression – even in the area of attire. But as a woman in the professional world, I know that if I want to be treated with respect, and treated as an equal, I have to dress the part. Ms. Sainz is a beautiful woman, and she has a great body. But there is no reason for her, as a broadcaster, to be dressing the way that she did. Women can be dressed professionally, or demure, or even just covered up, and still be sexy. The fact that Ms. Sainz dresses the way that she does shows me that she doesn’t take her job very seriously, and she doesn’t have a lot, if any, respect for her viewers. Of course, her network is letting her dress like that, so that must be what they want. The fact that they want a human Barbie doll doing sports news makes me think that they don’t care about actual sports news, they just want men to watch her, and who gives a fuck what comes out of her mouth.
Question #4: How do you feel the players should present themselves when there are women present in their locker room?
JANET: Just because it’s a locker room or a football field rather than an office, these are men who are in a profile environment, getting paid to represent both their team and the NFL. Therefore, it’s part of their job responsibilities to act appropriately and professionally, including when women are present in their locker room. These are grown men who are completely capable of exercising self-control.
DEANNA: Players should have a little more reserve when there are members of the opposite sex in their locker room, however I can see how they would protest to this. The locker room is a time/ place for them to be themselves before and after a game and they deserve that time spent there, but it shouldn’t be that hard to conduct themselves more appropriately for the couple of minutes that a women would be present.
KIM: This is a tricky one for me. I think that players should always maintain an air of decorum and be aware of who is in their locker room, but I also think that since it is their environment, anyone coming into the locker room that doesn’t necessarily “belong there” may have to adjust and be aware of where they are. However, again, it’s different when there are women present. Players should be respectful and not be lewd. They can be comfortable, they can joke around, but they have no right to disrespect, harass, or insult any visit to the locker room – be it a male or female.