Archive for the ‘women’ Tag

Locker Rooms and Sexual Harassment: 90s Style

The recent spate of announcements regarding sexual harassment has been amazing. We may not have been surprised by the harassment in Hollywood with its “casting couch” history.We aren’t surprised about these activities in sports, we can’t be surprised about this occurring in the halls of media organizations either. One incident from the long history of harassment appears in my book, Terry Bradshaw: From Super Bowl Champion to Television Personality.

Fewer than three months into their jobs and co-anchors of CBS’ The NFL Today Pregame show, Terry Bradshaw and Greg Gumbel faced a major incident. Five New England Patriots players had told crude jokes and two fondled their genitals as Boston Herald reporter Lisa Olson was covering their locker room after a Monday Night Football game in mid-September 1990. Olson issued a complaint.

Then Patriots owner Victor Kiam, of Gillette Razor fame made things worse. Kiam had a brief exchange with the reporter in the locker room the following week. He turned to a member of his entourage who was standing by his side and said sotto voce, “She’s a classic bitch. No wonder the players don’t like her.” Patriots’ fans piled on, showering her with obscenities and vile suggestions and statements as “If you want
to go into the men’s locker room, you get what you deserve.”

The case of Melissa Ludtke v. Bowie Kuhn, in 1978, had opened the doors, literally, for female reporters. The ruling determined that keeping the Sports Illustrated reporter out of the New York Yankees’ locker room during the 1977 World Series deprived her of the equal opportunity to pursue her profession. The NFL did not enact an equal access policy until 1985. Female sportswriters faced frequent discrimination, harassment, and fraternity-type pranks like wet towels being whipped against their behinds as they waded through the male athletes to reach the person they wanted to interview.

How would Bradshaw and Gumbel address the explosive situation? A Dayton sportswriter described Patriots fans as Puritans.
The abuse they directed toward Olson betrayed their male chauvinism, which basically said, “You are a woman; know your place.” In contrast, NBC’s pregame analyst Will McDonough rushed a quick response to the incident and claimed Olson “exaggerated her story.”

The CBS pregame show made Leslie Visser the lead in the discussions on the issue. Bradshaw described how he thought the public saw the issue, contending, “We can be as lenient and we can be as accepting to the opposite sex all we want to. But there comes an area where a man just absolutely closes his mind up and says no.” Mary Carillo, analyst for women’s and men’s tennis on CBS and ESPN, responded, “I think
that’s valid, a very valid point. Football always has been perceived as a male domain. Tennis isn’t like that—(John) McEnroe and (Ivan) Lendl
know I have the same skills, so it isn’t a stretch.”

Cathy Barreto who became the first female director for NFL games in the late 1980s, argued for female announcers in football. She thought
that for a female announcer to be accepted, “it’s going to have to be a recurring thing—not just once in a while. . . . Really no different than a
man—except people aren’t used to it.”

Bradshaw recalled growing up in Shreveport and witnessing the slow dissolution of racial segregation, another instance where people needed to get used to change. He listened to women analyze golf on television and accepted them because he learned from them. “I’m looking for knowledge. I don’t care what the sex is,” he said.

Nearly 30 years of past since this incident. The culture has only recently began fleshing out incidents of sexual harassment. Women broadcasters do not regularly in the broadcast booth for football. There is one woman appearing along the sidelines as a reporter but no more than one. ESPN did add one woman to their broadcast booth for major league baseball. As Carillo’s comment suggested, sports still seek an name athlete in the sport to appear in the broadcast booth as a color commentator. But broadcast booths can be expanded as ESPN has done to add a woman, and women can also be given more opportunities as play-by-play announcers. First, the sexism, both overt with the harassment, and covert, with hiring tendencies, needs to be contained then eliminated.


Museum Shows

One lucky thing about living in Washington, DC is that there are a number of excellent museums. Another is that they are free. Went to the Sackler Gallery on Sunday to see a show about depictions of the Middle East. Iraqi artist Jananne Al-An created videos of the supposed barren landscape of the Middle East. Her point was that to many Europeans and Americans the Middle East is a vast and empty land without people.

Her piece, Shadow Sites II(2011),  is exhibited alongside a selection of extraordinary original prints by renowned archaeologist Ernst Herzfeld (1879–1948). Comparisons about Herzfeld’s manufactured photographs showing empty and barren areas can be made to Al-An’s video from an aircraft that show military installations and manufacturing


I got the point and the show did not hold my interest very long.

One building neighboring the Sackler is the African Art Museum on the Mall. We walked over to see a show there. This show also focused on the Arab world, except on the other side of the African continent.

Lalla Essaydi’s refined work belies its subversive, challenging nature. Moroccan-born, Essaydi became an artist after relocating from Saudi Arabia to the United States. She believes her work, with its intimate portrayal of Moroccan women, would not have been possible without distance from her homeland.

In the last decade, Essaydi has risen to international prominence. Though widely acclaimed as a photographer, few are aware she is accomplished in diverse media. Revisions brings together, for the first time, selections from each photographic series, rarely exhibited paintings, and a multimedia installation. While each work and genre speaks volumes on their own, from the ensemble emerges Essaydi’s personal narrative and critical reflection on her experience as a liberal Moroccan, Arab, African, and Muslim woman living across cultures. She sees her work as “intersecting with the presence and absence of boundaries–of history, gender, architecture, and culture–that mark spaces of possibility and limitation. This is my story as well.”

The best part of the show for me was seeing the art inside a “house” that the exhibitors created. You come to a gate where there is a key hold. You walk through the keyhole and feel like you are inside a house. The photographs hang all over the inside of the house, showing the women in various positions. The section is successful in making you feel like you are in a separate space, a unique look at the Muslim woman’s world.

Houses in American Culture

Anybody see this editorial on the housing crisis from today’s Washington Post?

The scholar makes several good points about the nature of housing in the country. Home ownership was limited and Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and the religious as well as the architects all thought that housing would promote moral character. He doesn’t mention that in the culture “home” inspired a range of values in U.S. culture, including nostalgia, intimacy and privacy, domesticity, commodity, delight, austerity, comfort, and well-being.

He mentions that these people thought the tenements and apartment houses lacked the privacy necessary to raise moral children. Actually, those housing reformers of the late nineteenth century he discussed perpetuated the belief that tenements were still improper environments for living. They claimed that this type of housing served as breeding grounds of crime, juvenile delinquency, prostitution, and disease.

Most Americans believed that apartment buildings and any other kind of shared dwelling were aberrations of the model home that promoted promiscuity and wifely negligence of duties toward the home and her children.

The two biggest areas that I include in my book that he neglects to mention is that houses soon meant other things in the culture than vessels for creating moral character. Houses demonstrated the homeowner’s high status in the community.

Popular magazines described the mansions of the elite and nouveau riche in urban and suburban communities around the nation. These homes strove to present elegance and historical roots that demonstrated the class and importance of the owner. Today’s McMAnsions do the same thing for the same reason just for more people.

The owners favored for their residences architectural styles, such as Second Empire, Romanesque, or Renaissance that carried connotations of power. Most significantly, these depictions of the social elite households presented spotlessness, order, and tranquility as the foremost personality traits and values of their owners.

The author notes that in the twentieth century more people owned homes. Not surprisingly, the purpose for a house began shifting. The house’s stylish echoes now showed the owner’s personality.

Some owners adopted the newer architectural styles, such as Arts and Crafts. These places also set their owners apart by creating the impression that innovation and adventure figured into their personalities. Media depictions of prominent people’s homes involved showing them inside very larger and expensive houses, demonstrating their ranking through the size and cost of their homes.

The article pays little attention to gender and home ownership. The piece cites a home building in 1950 who said, “No man who owns his house and lot can be a communist.” Most depictions of houses that showed women showed them as the Mrs of the house.

Intriguingly, one of the few places where women as home owners appeared is in items as Hollywood. Here actresses and others owned their homes and showed their personalities.