Sports Illustrated, You’re Part of the Rape Culture Problem

Reading Time: 3 minutes

2Every day, I get my daily Sports Illustrated newsletter because I’m something of a sports junkie. I was surprised but pleased to see the site finally cover sexual harassment of women in sports in any form; in this case, female reporters. That’s page 2 above of my newsletter. And two stories below that?

3Notice a problem? The “Hot Clicks” are an everyday occurrence in the newsletter. Most days, it’s merely an annoyance. It’s not that I object to hot women on the internet. It’s that I object to Sports Illustrated covering men as sports figures and women as sex objects. I’ve looked over my last eight newsletters. There are ten stories that mention women, all either Hot Clicks or a puff piece and even a casting call for the swimsuit issue.

Another newsletter included details of the Patrick Kane rape investigation with more Hot Clicks. The only mention I can recall of a women in sports in the last month is the coverage of Serena Williams. Meantime, the WNBA is in the middle of playoffs. No stories on those teams in the newsletter.

Why does SI.com do this? They want clicks, and they believe their audience is all men who want photos of hot women, not stories about women in sports. What they don’t realize is that by doing this, they’re part of the problem.

When people talk about rape culture, this is what they mean. When the men are valued for their achievements and treated as people, and the women are valued for being hot and looking sexually available, being prizes for the men doing the important stuff. For further examples, see that awful Draft Kings commercial that ran all last year on all the sports channels that talked about how winners of the fantasy contest went from ‘having holes in his underwear to having bikini models in them.’ Because, see, women are a prize, like money or prestige.

Sports Illustrated, you are a part of the problem. Not the only part, but given the harassment issue of female journalists, if you’re concerned about the issue, first look to your own house. It’s not even a good business decision, according to an article in Forbes:

Females account for more than a third of 14 million-plus people that tune into major events like the NBA Finals, World Series, Daytona 500, and Stanley Cup Finals, according to data from Nielsen. And as for the granddaddy sporting event of the year, the Super Bowl, the 2011 figure jumps to 45.9% of the game’s 111 million viewers, or some 50 million women cheering on the Steelers or Packers. The NFL shop online puts out an entire line of female-targeted merchandise for every team. Maybe it’s time to lay the term ‘football widow’ to rest.

Meantime, I’m canceling my newsletter and switching over to NFL.com. They don’t cover women in sports either, just the NFL. But at least all I get is football news instead of having my gender being treated just as a piece of scenery.

Mad Max Fury Road image via Warner Home Video.
Mad Max Fury Road image via Warner Home Video.

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