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When I first heard about what happened to ESPN personality Erin Andrews -- my natural reaction was one of horror. Erin's privacy was violated during a moment when her guard was at its lowest. She was in her hotel room, naked, and likely preparing to go through the typical female ablutions. We all do it, and none of us think about it. We shouldn't have to...unless some freak with fibre optic equipment and a penknife decides to go Jack Bauer on the drywall in the adjacent room.

That being said, I have a few random thoughts on this incident -- and its fallout -- I'd like to share.

1) To witness some of the reaction from the bigger blogs on this topic is rather interesting. Many who initially allowed links to the video have since retracted the posts and gone into "protective pseudo-boyfriend" mode. They "feel badly" for Andrews, and state repeatedly how she "doesn't deserve this." While I wholeheartedly agree with those statements, it's a bit hard to swallow coming from writers who were previously content to objectify the hell out of Erin -- both for the sake of increased traffic and their own personal amusement. How many female sports media personalities were subjected to largely-spread photos of them eating a sandwich, or tales of their visits to a media buffet that featured a "taco bar"? The minutiae of Erin's life have always been up for discussion, and it largely has to do with her personal appearance. I suppose I should be appreciative that these bloggers are finally drawing the line publicly on the objectivity issue, but part of me also wonders how many of them immediately went looking for the video as soon as it was available.

2) While I reiterate that this never should have happened, I sincerely hope it causes Erin to reconsider certain things about life in the business. Yes, she's a very attractive woman. We all know that, and unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your point of view), nothing can be done about it. However, Erin has previously been under scrutiny for wardrobe choices and flirtatious behaviour in the past. These decisions will likely exacerbate any kind of objectionable treatment she receives. Am I saying she's to blame? No. This isn't a, "girl dresses a certain way, she's getting what's coming to her" rant. The fact of the matter is, that while not all men are capable of doing dangerous/criminal things, most are more than capable of objectifying women to some degree -- be it publicly or privately. The spotlight is on her in such a male-dominated business, and her appearance adds to that. Anything -- and I mean ANYTHING that can be perceived as questionable (a hand on a player's shoulder or a dress cut to mid-thigh) can and will lead down a slippery slope.


One of my biggest outcries regarding this issue incidentally came right before this drama took place. Andrews was spotted at the ESPYs wearing a black Herve Leger strapless dress with cutouts down the front. This dress had previously been spotted on other celebrities, and has been repeatedly been crucified in the press for causing its wearers to look like, well, $5-dollar whores.

Did the dress suit her? She certainly has the body to pull it off. But that's not the point. This is a night where the attention would undoubtedly be on her, and she could have chosen to wear something far more sophisticated. Instead, she went for full-on sexpot. Why? It's not necessary. Furthermore, it does nothing to dissuade people from thinking that she's nothing more than a sideline princess -- a fun bauble to look at, but who gives a (expletive) what she says? We all know she's pretty -- why does she insist on feeding the beast?

3) I have stated multiple times on this blog that for a woman, you're more likely to be taken seriously in print as opposed to the other two mediums. I believe print offers the greatest opportunity to neutralize one's gender -- in short, if you can make readers forget that they're hearing from a woman, there's a better chance of being taken seriously. Granted, print is also where the money is the sparsest, so I understand the need to push towards television. No matter what your appearance, this is no easy world to deal with. In nearly ten years of messing about in this industry, I've been told to "sound sexier", "wear something pretty" and "think about being a golf cart girl or a cheerleader for a day -- it'll be a good story." Keep in mind that I'm a relatively average-looking woman who doesn't (expletive) around with work and seriously wants to discuss a team's defensive foibles -- and not which of the blueliners I may find "cute." Nothing is ever going to stop men from objectifying women in this business, but playing the straight and narrow never hurt anyone -- if you truly care about what you're doing, that is (and I believe Erin does).

What happened to Erin Andrews was totally uncalled for, and I can't imagine how she must be feeling right now. I've dealt with some creepy nonsense during my time, but nothing on par with that. All of that considered, I hope this incident causes people -- and women -- to think about the way things go down in sports media...fair, unfair or otherwise.


Related: Erin Andrews and Guilt, Imagined and Otherwise -- Deadspin
Assault on Erin Andrews' Privacy Scary For All Female Journalists -- Yahoo! Sports
Erin Andrews and The Dark Side of All This -- RandBall

11 responses to "Erin on Erin: Through the sports media peephole"

  1. That's a great article, E. It's nice to hear the women's point of view on this story.

    JP

  2. Excellent post. Couldn't agree more with your POV. Was reading Leitch at Deadspin and thinking, "What's with this overprotective reaction? Feels phony."

    Ms. Conduct

  3. Well put.

    Reid

  4. Great post. New to your blog, and enjoying it.

    Also: Hoito pancakes are the greatest.

    eyebleaf

  5. Nice post. The Ottawa Sun didn't deserve you.

    Anonymous

  6. Interesting post.

    I think that there is an awful lot to discuss about Erin Andrews, and I agree with most of what you've written here in regards to how she's chosen to shape her career.

    However, I think it's unfortunate that you've used the peep hole incident as an opportunity to write about the choices she's made in regards to her career. I'm not suggesting that you haven't acknowledged the seriousness of the crime perpetrated against her, but to me, there are really two VERY separate issues at play here.

    1. Erin Andrews has used her looks to promote her career.
    2. A sexual crime was perpetrated against Erin Andrews.

    By taking this opportunity to criticize Andrews' career choices, you're muddying the waters to serve a point that really has nothing to do with being recorded in a hotel room. Erin Andrews is in no way, shape, or form, at fault for what happened to her in that hotel room. Whether she's at fault for ruining the environment for other female sports journalists is a totally separate conversation.

    It makes me nervous to see these line blurred.

    Anonymous

  7. Anonymous, I understand what you're saying. But I reiterated several times that what happened to Andrews was not her fault. Will women be objectified in sports media, regardless of their appearance and behaviour? More often than not, yes. But some of Erin's decisions, in my opinion, have exacerbated the objective attention she has received -- be it good or bad. No one else gets written about the way she does. No one else receives the attention she does. With this spotlight, apparently it brought with some heavy circumstances that I'm sure none of us saw coming. She can't help the way she looks. But she doesn't have to play into the hands of the objectively-driven.

    The Universal Cynic

  8. Again, I happen to agree with you that Erin Andrews has been using her appearance for years to get ahead and that it undermines her credibility as a journalist, but I take grave issue with you characterizing this as a "heavy circumstance" that came with the "spotlight". This is a crime, perpetrated by a sexual predator and it could have happened to any woman.

    The moral of the story here isn't that Erin Andrews should "reconsider certain things" the moral of the story is that we're often not as safe as we think we are.

    Anonymous

  9. It can, and it does. But the interest in someone -- good or bad -- is piqued and exacerbated when a person is thrust into the spotlight.

    The Universal Cynic

  10. Anonymous, E never made the idea of EA re-considering things to be the moral of the story. It was part of her post but that point has also been made by others covering this story. I have read the phrase "woman journalists should take pause" more than once. There's nothing wrong in thinking that EA should think about her behaviour more often. It doesn't take away from the the fact that she is the innocent one. If you're robbed, you think twice about locking your doors after it happens, right?

    JP

  11. Anonymous --

    There's no point in arguing with a woman. She's always going to think she's right. Only in this case, she really is. :> I feel bad for Erin Andrews but in the future she should check herself.

    Torch1