This past Saturday, Ines Sainz, a reporter for a Mexican television network, attended a Jets football team practice and interviewed players with two of her male coworkers in the locker room. During the practice, the assistant coach seemed to purposefully throw the ball in her direction. Then when she was in the locker room, several players “catcalled” at her, making her feel “very uncomfortable.”
“Of course you feel it when you are being stared at and when you are being spoken of in a certain way,” Sainz told The Associated Press. “I opted to ignore it … I tried to not even pay attention.” She tweeted in Spanish on Saturday night that she tried “not to look anywhere!!”
While this is not exactly street harassment, a lot of the factors are the same.
- The men who catcalled her treated her disrespectfully and made her feel uncomfortable, just as street harassers do to the women they harass.
- Many men only harass women on the streets when they are in groups and I bet had only one guy been in the locker room, he wouldn’t have harassed Sainz. Often the harassment isn’t for the benefit of the women, it’s to impress or to get a rise out of one’s male peers.
- Sainz’s reaction is like so many women’s after they’ve experienced street harassment: pretend to ignore it, suffer through it, and then move on. That’s what we’re told to do and when it happens all the time, sometimes that’s all we have the energy to do.
- Just as women are sharing their street harassment stories on blogs, via twitter, and Facebook, Sainz tweeted her experiences afterward. It raised awareness and the Jets owner apologized to her. Afterward Sainz said, “I don’t want to make it a bigger deal. I have confidence in the NFL and the Jets’ management and I know that this will serve as a precedent so that this does not happen to another women.”And that’s how I think a lot of women feel about street harassment. They don’t want to dwell on it or make a big deal as long as it stops so that no woman ever has to deal with it again.
Ladies, let’s take a cue from Sainz and keep speaking out about the harassment we face. And men, don’t take a cue from the Jets players – don’t harass women and don’t ignore it or keep silent when you see your buddies doing it. That makes you complicit.
[9.14.10 update: Amanda Hess at TBD addresses the rampant victim-blaming that seems to be growing as more people hear about what happened to Sainz]