Jaclyn Friedman, who along with Jessica Valenti is the co-author of the excellent book, Yes Means Yes, has written several pieces in the last week examining the devastating damage done by sports apologists who are, “an essential ingredient in the modern sports culture that protects and lionizes male athletes at all costs.” In examining cases like accusations of attempts to cover up rape charges against Ben Roethlisberger, the treatment of Erin Andrews and other cases, Friedman makes it very clear that these aren’t isolated incidents, but a result of very ingrained cultural context,
The apologists drink from a potent cocktail of hero-worship, almost military levels of team solidarity, and old-fashioned “boys will be boys” gender essentialism. And they would just be offensive if they weren’t such an integral part of the larger culture of misogyny in sports — a culture that makes it possible for there to be so many heinous acts to defend, minimize and deny in the first place. As is, they’re downright dangerous, writing a blank check for athletes’ behavior that too many athletes are happy to cash.
The result of this is that,
This kind of public blowback isn’t just re-traumatizing for the victim — it impacts our ability to bring rapists to justice. After all, judges and juries live in the same sports culture we do — and participate in it themselves to varying degrees. So it’s not hard to guess why a study by USA Today in the wake of the Kobe Bryant rape trial found that athletes charged with rape were far less likely to be convicted or even agree to a plea deal than non-athletes. And the more athletes get away with rape, the more likely they are to rape again, and the more likely other athletes are to see it as an appealing act with few consequences.
Not only has Friedman added much needed analysis of this issue itself, she then found herself in the position that I’ve been in many times, namely what to do with all the inappropriate feedback that has been heaped on her since addressing this topic. The first time this sort of stuff rolled my way I was truly shocked, I just didn’t have a clue, but any time you address issues such as rape or porn, it is inevitable that you will be barraged with all manner of poorly written, off-topic, rude, obscene, etc. comments by folks who insist that you are violating their rights to free speech if you don’t print them. Friedman addresses that on the Yes Means Yes blog. Read it. What she said applies to this blog too.