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ESPN Publishes “Ole Miss Girls Are Easy…” Sign to Backlash–ESPN Wins Asshole of the Week Award

September 23, 2015

I love it when people say something totally derogatory, particularly toward women, minorities, or people who are marginalized and qualify their right to do so as merely “joking,” as did ESPN when they published a photo of a man holding a sign saying Ole Miss girls were “easy.” There are so many things wrong with this situation: that ESPN thinks that it’s acceptable to make jokes about calling women from Mississippi “girls” and insinuate they are nothing more than sexual conquests to serve the pleasure of men, that ESPN first defended the publishing the photo of the sign as something grossly inaccurate like “game day flavor” (as in sexual harassment flavor?), that a sign regarding holding women as sexual conquests is directed toward “girls” or perhaps girls too young to consent casting shades of rape toward underage girls by male football fans, and really, need I go on?

Okay, so ESPN said “sights and sound” instead of flavor, but the sights and sounds of perpetuating sex crimes?

ESPN initially defended its use of the photo. In a statement Saturday, spokeswoman Keri Potts said the Twitter account “looks to bring the sights and sounds of the College GameDay experience” to viewers at home by showing how fans at the games “express themselves.”

The problem with standing by people who make hate statements and defending that as “expressing themselves” is that condoning sexual hatred is still perpetuating a message of hate and will undoubtedly turn people off. Kudos go to the commentators who instantly derided the publication of the photo even if their boss wasn’t on board right away:

Anchor Rece Davis and analyst Kirk Herbstreit rebuked the image when it flashed on the screen during the broadcast.

“I can’t condone that type of behavior,” Davis said.

“That is unacceptable,” Herbstreit said.

Perhaps we should go back to the message to Kim Davis message that women aren’t sold for marriage anymore? Or that calling women easy makes them a trophy? (Target misogyny anyone?)

When a woman commented that this type of portrayal of women was inappropriate, she was heckled for “not being able to take a joke.”

“The idea was never to stifle free speech or deny a young guy his right to make a bad joke, but to hold the world’s largest purveyor of sports entertainment and journalism to some kind of standard,” she told CNN.

“Women already have a hard time in sports — we are bombarded with messages that unless we are sexualized, we are not relevant and could not possibly be knowledgeable in this realm. So when ESPN shares something degrading to women with several million of its social media followers, it’s an implicit endorsement,” she said.

After speaking out, Wright became a target of criticism, name-calling and worse from fans who said the sign was a harmless joke.

Since when is rape a joke? Since when is illegal behavior (sex without consent from underage girls) a joke? Or a “joke” that people defend? Since when is advocating a hate crime a type of joke?

ESPN pulled an NFL bit: they said they would “take a closer look” at condoning crimes against women in the future, when they already saw the footage of condoning using women to serve men, approved it, defended it, and then only upon public outcry have said they won’t do it again in the future. Culture of sports hostile to women for lunch today?

ESPN wins the Asshole of the Week Award for perpetuating hate crimes against women and then defending it.


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