Normally I would refrain from posting any sports related material here, but in this particular instance, the folks at ESPN have gone and done something spectacular and it should be seen by the whole of the internet. When it comes to the online harassment of women, men of all kinds of have taken on the bro-bag mentality and relentlessly taken to verbally abusing the non-specifically-male genders in ways that are prolifically disturbing.
In this new video piece, men are asked to read ‘mean Tweets’ that were directed at sportswriters Julie DiCaro and espnW’s Sarah Spain. As one can imagine, the level of ‘mean’ escalates quickly, just as it usually tends to do on the internet. It should be noted that the men reading the Tweets are NOT the men that wrote them, but it wouldn’t be a far cry to assume that in some point in their lives they’ve giggled or laughed at similar things they friends may have done. In the real world, however, they have an extremely tough time even reading these things to these women and struggle to get through the list.
For many of you out there, this will be nothing new and certainly nothing that you haven’t seen before, but because it’s being taken on by a major sports network, it becomes a major step in the right direction. By directly addressing the ‘boys-will-be-boys’ club, ESPN is hitting a major demographic that has notoriously gotten away with hate speech under the guise of ‘playful-shit-talking’.
Will this proactively effect any of ESPN’s audience? Probably not, but it might if they take it beyond just the internet and rerun it as frequently as they do episodes of Sportscenter. This is the kind of thing that should get seen over and over again until it starts to ring home in peoples minds that it’s not okay to address anyone in these kinds of ways. Having been an online writer and blogger for several years, I’ve seen my fair share of hate speech, but obviously nothing in comparison to what these and many other women (writers or not) have to face on a daily basis.
The #MoreThanMean campaign is designed to raise awareness about the level of harassment that women in sports have to endure, but it’s a message that extends beyond any single career and instead involves the gender as a whole. Take the time to give it a watch and then give it a share. Let the folks at ESPN know that you stand behind their message and encourage them to up the stakes. Let’s get this on TV in front of the faces of millions of viewers who could likely use a reminder about what it means to be human.