Erin Andrews was subjected to a personal violation, and one pundit said she was "playing to the frat house." That's a short step away from "she was asking for it," and that pundit is now leading the charge against reporter harassment.
The "she was asking for it" argument is one of the more disgusting ones in the world today. Ines Sainz is sexy. She knows it. She dresses for it. She uses it as her bit. But she was never, not in a million years, asking to be catcalled in the locker room or leered at on the sidelines by players and coaches. We've actually covered female objectification pretty thoroughly here before, and this is a textbook definition. To the Jets, Ines Sainz wasn't a reporter; she was just a hot chick.
In her own way, USA Today's Christine Brennan was warning Erin Andrews about this after Andrews was filmed naked through a peephole camera in her hotel room.
I wish it didn't happen to Erin, but I also would suggest to her if she asked (and she hasn't) that she rely on her talent and brains and not succumb to the lowest common denominator in sports media by playing to the frat house."
It's a not invalid point, and crystallized a lot of the debate the media was having about the attractive sideline reporter's role. But it didn't stop there, and Brennan shot herself in the foot on a radio appearance later that week.
If you trade off your sex appeal, if you trade off your looks, eventually you're going to lose those. She doesn't deserve what happened to her, but part of the shtick, seems to me, is being a little bit out there in a way that then are you encouraging the complete nutcase to drill a hole in your room."
Oof. As tight as Erin Andrews's sweaters were, I don't recall her forfeiting her privacy or endorsing anything that would land someone in prison.
Why bring this up now? Because Brennan has been one of the most vocal defenders of Ines Sainz, against the too-large segment of the population who thinks that Sainz deserved the treatment she got. She's been on this story from the beginning, hammering away at Sainz's critics on Twitter, and saying much the same on television. ("She's a credentialed reporter...she should expect only the most professional, courteous behavior that you would find in the workplace.")
And she's absolutely right. Not enough people are defending Sainz, so she's stepping up. But it seems less pure in the light of her comments on Erin Andrews, and seriously undermines her cause, as correct as it might be.
What's the difference between Erin Andrews and Ines Sainz (who, it should be pointed out, isn't half the reporter that Andrews is)? Are we dealing with a cultural double standard, where we can't expect the poor Spanish woman to understand that American men like tight clothing and a bit of skin? Should Andrews have known better, since she works regularly, while Sainz just pops in for the occasional Super Bowl stunt?
Brennan says the most important issue here is treatment at the workplace. But playing the Norma Rae card doesn't work, when Andrews's harassment was directly due to her fame and appearance at said job.
Brennan told us she has spent her entire career trying to support women in the sports media (she was the first president of the Association for Women in Sports Media) and that her comment about Andrews "encouraging" what happened was taken out of context.
"The first words out of my mouth when I was asked on a radio show about what happened to Erin Andrews was that it was 'gross and despicable,'" she says, and it's true. But saying her quote was out of proper context is a difficult position to take, considering the specific reference to peeping.
In the end, Brennan's only option is to stand up for Sainz now, regardless of what was or wasn't said last time around. But it's easiest, and most professional, to unequivocally say, every time, that female reporters should not be treated as anything more or less than simply reporters.
There, was that so hard?