For as long as we can remember, people have debated whether women who wear provocative outfits are asking for verbal harassment. While “provocative” is a relative term, it apparently applies to a pair of tight-fitting jeans and a white top.
In case you haven’t heard, Ines Sainz, a reporter for Mexico’s TV Azteca who donned the aforementioned outfit, was allegedly sexually harassed by New York Jets players while she was conducting interviews in the team locker room.
Although the Jets’ owner has since apologized for his team’s catcalling, discussion about the incident continues. Fox/NFL analyst Brian Baldinger told the Tony Bruno radio show in Philadelphia that Sainz is at fault for what happened.
“If you come into the NFL dressed the way that she is dressed you are just asking for it,” Baldinger said. “I think she brings it upon herself. I don’t know how you let her on a practice field.”
He also justified the Jets’ actions with the old adage, “Boys will be boys… I don’t think they (the Jets) have to apologize for any of this. And for her to make any claims on harassment or of any harassment issues, I think she is just inviting it all upon herself in this case.”
Ouch. Baldinger’s comments are harsh and, well, is he a cave man? The rub, though, is that his prehistoric thoughts express an opinion that’s survived women’s suffrage, the women’s liberation movement, equality in the workplace movements, and increasingly relaxed attitudes on dress. Men’s website Asylum.com polled its readers on whether or not Sainz’ outfit invited harassment. At the time of publication, 78 percent of the people (we assume most are men) surveyed say that her pants are a “ploy for attention,” while only 22 percent have answered that sexual harrassment is unacceptable.
It’s shocking to know that a large group of people support the idea that women not only deserve to be judged for their appearance, but that they should dress more conservatively to avoid being mistreated. Although Sainz herself didn’t file any complaints (it was the surrounding media that reported the story), people have still concluded that she was dressing to attract the players’ attention. And of course there’s the argument that catcalls don’t count as harassment, they’re just harmless ways for men to flirt with random women.
In a perfect world, we would be able to walk outside without hearing catcalls. I lived in New York City during my college years and was surprised at how commonplace it was to be harassed in public. It didn’t make a difference whether I was wearing gym clothes, a suit, skinny jeans or a baggy sweater. Some days, it seemed like I could barely go to the grocery store without hearing an inappropriate comment. The media may depict Sainz as an attention-monger, but I can’t agree. Catcalls are not flattering. They make you feel as if you’re a piece of meat, as if you belong indoors instead of out in the world.
It’s 2010. Women should no longer be shamed into feeling as if it’s their responsibility to keep boys from acting like boys. Men may be wired for visual stimulation, but they are also equipped with the capacity for tact and self-control, which should dictate that they express appreciation for beauty without cheapening it.
Should women expect to be mistreated when they wear tight clothing? How do you respond to catcalling?
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