“I have trouble looking at you while I’m saying these things.”
This is the point the #MoreThanMean campaign is trying to make: that what people say online has a real impact on real people. What’s more —those messages can also be considered as harassment.
A video created by podcast Just Not Sports (@JustNotSports) circulated the Internet last week that aptly proves this point. It features sport writer, columnist/broadcaster Julie DiCaro and Sports on Earth’s NFL writer Andrea Hangst, who have found themselves the target of some truly terrible messages on social media.
But, they are just “mean”, right? As proven by comedian Jimmy Kimmel, reading mean tweets can be funny. So, these women did just that. Except, instead of reading the messages themselves, they had men read these “mean” tweets to their faces. This was the result:
The video itself is cringe-worthy. The men seemed increasingly uncomfortable with the level of hatred and sexual violence exhibited in these anonymous tweets — with good reason.
“One of the players should beat you to death with a hockey stick like the whore you are. Cunt.
“This is why we don’t hire any females unless we need our c*** sucked or our food cooked.”
“Hopefully this skank Julie DiCaro is Bill Crosby’s next victim. That would be classic”
And those weren’t even some of the worst ones. The men were apologetic as the tweets went from “mean” to violent. Many of them pleaded with the director to skip a few of the statements. They couldn’t look the women in the eye.
DiCaro and Hangst were prepared for these messages. They had already seen the tweets before the video was taken, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t hurt.
A lot of the people watching this video completely misunderstood the point it was trying to make. Probably half of the comments attached to the Youtube page called it a feminist ploy. Some people thought it devalued the criticism and hate messages male sport reporters received on a daily basis. Others claimed the comments weren’t actually considered harassment —they were just mean statements and these women should get a backbone.
Here are some of the most recent comments as of Monday afternoon (spelling mistakes included):
LurkerDood: What’s with these pussy ass guys?! What’s so hard reading mean tweets?
opinionated hater: some of these are hilarious
Polarhero57: And bullshit that dudes don’t get any of this. It’s not harassment, it’s the fucking internet. This is completely staged.
Ali Bakhshi: If your biggest problem right now is people saying you should be raped on the internet then you seriously need to realise how privileged you are.
Micheal Bay: This is just another stupid feminist thing, these women are exposing themselves, in reality they’re sluts!
nalyd321: to be honest none of these were really that bad
quezcatol: it is also ironic how a fatso, like that big red haired women – can write about sport, that hippo shouldnt tell real athelte what they need to work on. she hasnt done shit in her life herself.
There is a childish undertone to the word mean. “So-and-so was mean to me”, kids will say. That so-and-so will then be told to sit in a corner and think about what he/she had done. The people sending these messages are, most likely, adults who have nothing better than to say incredibly sexist, discriminatory, and purely callous things because they know they can get away with it. Blocking or ignoring these people is the equivalent to asking them to sit in a corner. It does nothing and they are free to come back online to harass others. These are childish penalties for adult crimes.
Harassment is defined as aggressive pressure or intimidation. It can involve unwanted physical or verbal behaviour that offends and humiliates. Making obscene sexual remarks is considered also sexual harassment. There is no specification that it has to be done face-to-face, and that is the point of the #MoreThanMean campaign.
In this case, these tweets were more than mean. They were violent, inappropriate, and deserve to be blocked and reported by social media networks. They were harassment.
I used to be a Sports Editor at my student paper — the first woman in four years to hold the position. I can say with personal experience that my gender made a difference. Coaches didn’t take me as seriously and neither did the players. At my first hockey game, the player I was interviewing said I should enter the changing room to speak to his teammates. Not knowing any better, I did. I immediately knew that he was messing with me when I saw all the players in jock straps, but I decided to just walk up to the one player I needed to talk to, ignore his smirking, get my answer, and then calmly (but swiftly) get out of there.
And this was all before the prevalence of Internet trolls.
I’m lucky this incident was a one-time thing, but it definitely opened my eyes up to the gender barriers women face in the sports world. With the prevalence of social media, female reporters and broadcasters have opened themselves up to all sorts of attacks — just because they are women in an industry dominated by men. This is absolutely unacceptable. Most of the women in the sports industry are talented, knowledgeable, and capable. They should not have to feel like they need to defend themselves.
There shouldn’t be a need for a viral video and a trending hashtag to bring attention to the blatant sexism these women are facing in this industry. It’s time for society, and social media, to step up. Share this video and spread the message.
Don’t be #MoreThanMean.
Be #MoreThanGrateful that you don’t have to read these tweets every day.