Bro: I wish more women liked football.
Me: I love football.
Bro: OH, YEAH?! WHAT WAS THE BLOOD TYPE OF THE BROTHER-IN-LAW OF THE SECOND COUSIN OF THE STEELERS’S ASSISTANT COACH IN 1973?!
I’ve had conversations like this entirely too often because apparently, some guys seem to feel the need to have me prove that I’m a “real fan.” I’ve been quizzed on which NFL teams are in which division, scoring, and the current roster of various teams, among other things. I’m a deeply dedicated fan of the Denver Broncos and I play in two fantasy football teams, yet I still often get treated like I’m the human equivalent of NFL clickbait.
Unfortunately, I am not the only woman who experiences this because assholes abound everywhere. In fact, some of these assholes are in the NFL:
Today during a weekly press conference, Charlotte Observer sports writer Jourdan Rodrigue asked Cam Newton about wide receiver Devin Funchess’s routes. Newton chose to respond by laughing and saying, “It’s funny to hear a female talk about routes.” He added a few exaggerated and condescending smiles before finally getting around to answering her question.
A lot of people are rightfully offended by Cam Newton’s misogynistic attitude, but unfortunately Newton’s reaction is all too familiar for women, myself included. What makes this worse is that Jourdan Rodrigue is more than just a fan–it’s her goddamn job. She’s one of two beat writers for the Charlotte Observer that exclusively covers the Carolina Panthers and has done so every day for the past year. When she privately confronted Cam Newton about this later, he, of course, had no idea who she was. Then again, in the press conference, he seemed to be slightly confused as to who Julius Peppers was.
To read a fuller account of the events, Rodrigue’s colleague wrote an article that you can read here. Rodrigue herself chose not to share more because, honestly, she has better shit to do with her day.
Why, in 2017, are women still being bullied for enjoying (or, as in the case of Jourdan Rodrigue, working) in sports? I’ll tell you right now, guys–the estrogen in our system does not make it so that we can’t understand how sports work. A lot of news outlets are describing Cam Newton’s comment as “off-color” but let’s call it what it is: misogyny.
I’ve heard too many people say that feminism isn’t needed anymore because “technically” women have equal rights in this country. However, that’s bullshit. The technicality of laws is important, of course, but cultural and social behaviors and perceptions are incredibly important. As a woman, I’ve been paid less than my male counterparts for doing the same job–once at a state university. During an interview, a female friend of mine was asked if and when she was planning on having children. Both of these instances were illegal, but they still happened and they happen all the time to women everywhere. One of the biggest examples of this was during the 2016 election. Regardless of how you feel about the candidates’ personalities, consider this in regards to job qualifications: one candidate had decades of extensive law and political experience, including serving as the Secretary of State. The other was a reality TV star who drove his father’s real estate empire into corporate bankruptcy four times. Unfortunately, we all know which one ended up in the White House.
The casual way in which Cam Newton dismissed Rodrigue simply because she is a woman not only poorly reflects on him, but on society at large. Who led him to believe that it was okay to treat a professional reporter like that? We need to view Cam Newton’s rude and sexist comment as a teachable moment. I have a son of my own and it’s on his father and me to teach him how to respect other people regardless of gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, physical capability, or any other aspect of who they are.
And to those of you who think feminism is “done,” this is a reminder that it’s not. We’ve come a long way, but there is still a long way to go.