Female Sports Reporter Locker Room Harassment.

by Meredith O’Brien


Twenty years ago, a reporter for the Boston Herald walked into the New England Patriots’ locker room and was confronted by a naked player asking her, according to media reports, “Is this what you want? Do you want to take a bite out of this?” A couple of other unclothed players “crowded around her making lewd gestures,” People Magazine reported while one shouted, “Give her what she wants!”


The then-Patriots’ owner Victor Kiam blamed the 26-year-old reporter, Lisa Olson, saying that the newspaper was “asking for trouble” by sending her into the locker room. Charmingly, the owner added, “I can’t disagree with the players’ actions” and publicly called Olson a “classic bitch.” While Kiam eventually apologized, other players on the 1990 team, continued to pile on, calling Olson humorless (“If she can’t take a joke, she ought not be down here.”), perverted (“What kind of a woman wants to be in a locker room?”) and asking for it (“You learn it’s part of the job.”). She had her home burglarized, was inundated with hate mail and obscene calls, and threatened with violence (“leave Boston or die”), the American Journalism Review reported.


It’s part of the job, just put up with it, you humorless (*insert your favorite females-only slur*). Olson actually wasn’t on my mind when I watched a recent episode of Mad Men, circa 1965, where two women working at an ad agency – Joan Harris and Peggy Olson -- objected to being sexually objectified and demeaned only to be verbally assailed by their harassers when they objected to the harassment. They were told that putting up with this was part of their job, that women have no sense of humor (the refuge of ill-behaved heathens, blaming the woman for not “getting” the humor in her harassment.). Joan Harris was told by a male employee, who likened her to a whore, that her attire sent the message that she was “trying to get raped.”


Olson’s nightmare leapt to mind when I learned this week that in some quarters, not a hell of a lot has changed in the past 20 years, hell, the past 45 years.


I would like to offer that, in Latino cultures, a woman's sense of professional dress often differs from the American perception. It's one of the more subtle cultural differences to which Latinos are exposed.

That having been said, I believe that people -- male and female alike -- should be judged on their body of work, not their body.


It sickens me that woman are still blamed for harassment. These athletes are like children who don't want to be held accountable for their behavior, they put someone else down because it makes them feel powerful, but if they get any retaliation or criticism for their behavior, they can't take responsibility and so they turn in unto the victim.
If they were trying to joke around with the reporters, and she's not laughing, that's the first clue that it's not funny, why keep going? Would they have the same jokes for a male reporter? Is the male reporter trying to check out all 53 packages also? Is he begging for harassment too? What if the female reporters decided to joke around about small packages while in the locker room? Would they laugh at that? They need to get over themselves, really.

So basically it amounts to, she's a lesbian if she don't want at least one of the 53 male packages, a whore if she has cleavage, and a bitch if she complains about it.
And when will the understand we are not like them, we don't want to sleep with every man we see. But the real issue I think is the male locker room exposes a guys vulnerability, the ones harassing the reporters are probably indeed the ones with the smallest package, and there's power in numbers so they feel they can get away with it, and not take any blame.


Really? Did you happen to watch the interview on ESPN where her breast was almost visible to the viewer; if the reporter wants to represent a professional image, she would take a bit more choice in her selection of clothes and also in her behavior. Haven't seen very many men reporter sitting in players laps having their pictures taken.