Jimmy Kimmel’s “Mean Tweets” series has celebrities read out that mean stuff people say about them on Twitter. It’s hilarious, if not a little uncomfortable, largely because these celebs are still very rich and famous. We can trick ourselves into thinking that anonymous criticism bounces right off them.
In a new video called #MoreThanMean from Just Not Sports, a weekly podcast and web community, that setup is tweaked. Instead of mocking the stars, male sports fans read real comments other people have made toward two women sports reporters–ESPN’s Sarah Spain and Julie DiCaro, an anchor on Chicago radio station 670 The Score. And to make it even more uncomfortable, those comments are read right to Spain and DiCaro’s faces.
The comments start off more or less innocuous, if a little mean: “I’d like to start a petition for a ban on all links to Julie DiCaro’s Twitter feed,” one guy reads as DiCaro laughs. Then the upbeat music drops out, and we hear things like: “One of the players should beat you to death with their hockey stick like the whore you are.”
And these are just a few examples of the harassment female journalists, especially those in sports media, face all the time. Yet hearing about these incidents still surprises people. Why? Why is it surprising that sports fans feel like they can insult and threaten women whenever they want, when the NFL doesn’t have a zero-tolerance policy for its players on domestic violence? Why, when players accused of assault (even those whose assault is on video) can still keep playing?
That these things happen to women is hard to hear, and hard to watch. It should be. Women should not have to factor in fear of physical, emotional, and sexual violence when picking a career.