More Than Mean Needs to Set Legacy How to Treat Women in Sports

More Than Mean Needs to Set Legacy How to Treat Women in Sports
Andrea Hangst, Sarah Spain, Maggie Hendricks, Julie DiCaro, and Amy Guth were the panel for the women in sports media and online harassment panel at blogging with balls in Chicago on April 27,

More Than Mean Video Setting Legacy How to Treat Women in Sports

The More than Mean Video posted by Just Not Sports last month polarized the sports world and beyond. It has had nearly 3.5 millions views, 13.7K likes and nearly 10k dislikes. Too many men have a misogynistic view of sports, that's its a man's domain. That has changed slowly over many decades. Title IX gave women a place in sports. It created more women being active in sports and furthered their interest. I was fortunate to be able to attend Blogs with Balls 7 with some Chicago Now Colleagues last month. The Symposium had multiple panels. The most eagerly anticipated of those panels was "Treatment of Women in Sports".

BwB7 took place the day after the release of the More Than Mean video. The panel consisted of Julie DiCaro from WSCR in Chicago, Sarah Spain of ESPN, Maggie Hendricks of USA Today and NFL writer Andrea Hangst. The panel was moderated by Director, Writer and Radio Host Amy Guth.

DiCaro and Spain are the two women in the video to whom derogatory and harassing posts are read back to. These are actual tweets, Facebook posts and other social media interaction that were sent to Spain and DiCaro on their various profiles.

One of the consensus opinions is that the anonymity on the internet has created a sense of aggression that most men would not engage in in person. This is a broad issue and topic that will never completely cease to exist.

There are so many factors that have to change to alleviate online harassment. Technology is always ahead of the law. The ability to be anonymous has given people the capacity to portray themselves as more brash and audacious on the internet than they would be in real life.

Creating legislation to allow law enforcement to find people who harass others online creates a slippery slope. What is and what is not harassment? Does gaining access to a person's online profile and information violate freedom of speech and privacy? Is the person who was harassed or threatened truly in danger?

All 50 states plus Washington D.C. and the federal government have online harassment laws. We live in a global world, much less a world that crosses state lines. Each state having various laws is going to make it difficult to prosecute someone for online harassment.

"Federal law makes it a crime to "transmit in interstate commerce" (which includes the internet) a communication containing a threat to kidnap or physically harm someone."

The federal law comes across as vague. What exactly constitutes a threat? Do they have the means and/or proximity to be able to harm someone?

Somehow the culture must change. So many factors play into that. Spain had a point that "deep seeded misogyny needs to change." Guth asked the panel "How can we hold them accountable without changing the culture?"

Guth herself said that she has heard people say "that if women can't hang, they shouldn't be in the business." DiCaro holds her followers responsible on her own. She sends social media responses to wives, girlfriends, jobs, schools, etc. DiCaro followed with "(it's) all about outing those that make harassing comments" Hendricks said "(there) needs to be accountability and (those who make harassing comments) should be fired.

There is a double standard for women. DiCaro mentioned if a woman is on her phone at a game they are stereotyped as not caring. The actuality is she could updating her social media in reference to the game. Spain said people ask her who wrote what she talks about. The industry is changing slowly .

Spain hosts a radio show/podcast on ESPN called the Trifecta with Kate Fagan and Jane McManus. Their show and the CBS Sports Network's "We have to talk" are trailblazing the way for women only sports talk shows. Many women have been play-by-play announcers in men's sports for over 20 years and the list is growing.

Male voices need to speak up without talking for women.Trolls are everywhere on the internet. How they treat women is drastically different than how they treat men.

In the More Than Mean video, DiCaro and Spain are threatened with rape and other forms of violence. One of Spains trolls told her he hopes she gets hit in the head with a hockey puck.

Police need to start enforcing what laws are existing. DiCaro mentioned that they don't know what to do with the online threats.

After being threatened with a beheading and sexual assault, Guth went to the police. They told her she was nice looking and should be off twitter.

Blocking someone on social media won't solve anything. All they have to do is create a new profile.

The obvious thing to do if for all of us on social media to make our points without threatening others. How realistic is that though and what truly needs to be done to change the culture? Hendricks said everyone should be verified. DiCaro took it a step further saying that people should be held accountable via ISDNs.

As I discussed earlier what comes next? Would the person be prosecuted from where the message is sent or sent to? Is the threat credible? Is the person who was threatened truly in danger? There is no way to truly know how serious a person is with following through on their threat.

We can't just stand by and accept that a person was being angry and its just the internet. These threats would be taken far more sincerely if someone said it in person or on the phone.

The internet and social media is a part of the fabric of our lives now. Everyone has the internet at our fingertips at all times. That has created a society that frequently responds without thinking through their response first.

Holding anyone accountable for harassment might make people think twice before threatening someone through social media. It hopefully will not take a tragedy to make this happen.

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