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Recent, yes, but there were some very strong feelings surrounding this post, so I figured it was worth a revisit.

Erin on Erin: Through The Sports Media Peephole (originally posted on July 21, 2009)

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

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