For nine years as a professional sports reporter, Ines Sainz has walked the sidelines, been invited to team functions, and invited into locker rooms without publicized comment. She has done so attired in tight jeans and short skirts, plunging necklines and belly-button revealing blouses. And she has become one of the most recognized female reporters in sports, often seen in picture layouts and “hottest” or “sexiest” female sports reporter lists on the Internet.
But after allegations of sexual harassment surfaced against the New York Jets, as reported by the New York Post, Ines Sainz’s years of reporting in what many would consider sexy attire were brushed aside and her wardrobe the day of the incident became the focus of accusations that she had been dressed inappropriately.
For her part, Ines Sainz fired back at her detractors by posting a picture on Twitter of what she wore that day, writing that she was not “dressed inappropriately.” A clip of her interview with New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez, the reason she was in the New York Jets locker room to begin with, was shown on CBS’ “Early Show” and other media outlets as well. For her wardrobe of the day of the incident — jeans and a white dress blouse — to have been “inappropriate,” the definitions of appropriate and inappropriate would have to be severely recalibrated.
Sainz told the “Early Show” that she dressed as a woman, saying she wanted to be attractive and comfortable, but she also deserved respect that a professional reporter of nine years commanded. She posted to Twitter after the interview that she was “dying of embarrassment.” She also told TV Azteca that she was “uncomfortable,” but was “not offended” by the comments and remarks directed at her prior to her interview with the Jets quarterback. And in an interview with CNN’s Rick Sanchez, she noted that she thinks the behavior in the Jets locker room was unacceptable.
“I think that it’s not good that this kind of thing happened,” she told CNN, “and it mustn’t happen anymore. I’m agreeing with the idea that it’s good that everybody knows that a woman or a man deserve the same treatment in the locker room.”
The alleged incidents started Saturday, according to the New York Post, at a practice the press were invited to in Florham Park, N. J.. It has been alleged that head coach Rex Ryan and defensive coach Dennis Thurman intentionally overthrew passes so that footballs would land in her vicinity during the open reporting session. She told TV Azteca that that incident did not “bother” her.
“I took it as a joke, and none of the footballs actually hit me.”
She said that she didn’t hear everything that was said about her when she entered the locker room to interview Mark Sanchez. But she heard enough to make her uncomfortable. Another reporter asked if she was okay and apologized for remarks that Sainz was unaware of.
In the interview with TV Azteca, the network where she is currently employed, she said she was surprised too when the NFL called her the next day, “saying they wanted to talk to me about what had happened at the Jets; and I asked… ‘what happened?’ And they said well there is a pretty powerful accusation of harassment and then it was at that point I realized the magnitude of what had happened. “
She cooperated with the NFL and told the “Early Show” she would be satisfied with whatever decision they found to be appropriate. Sainz told CNN that the Jets owner, Woody Johnson, had apologized to her, and she had accepted the apologies “because he promised that he is going to make everybody on his team respect … women.”
Ines Sainz said she wasn’t seeking any type of legal action.
The NFL has launched a full investigation after The Association for Women in Sports Media complained to the League and to Jets management. The NFL noted that they planned to hold an educational session on sexual harassment in the near future. The Jets planned to address the concerns at a team meeting Monday.
But the idea that Sainz could be the focus of “sexiest” female sports reporters lists one day but attacked for the same type of attire that she has worn for years seems to be the subtext of many reports and comments. In that subtext, there is a pervasive attitude that “she got what she deserved” and “what did she expect?”
There is little doubt that Ines Sainz got what she expected, for she has noted in several interviews that she is more than a little experienced at the reporting game. She just didn’t expect it to be as bad as it was, and that it would get blown into the scandal it has become. However, she has also noted that she is a professional and would like to be treated as such. That is what she deserved, and deserves in the future.
Those who point to her wardrobe and claim that it is justifiable that millionaire football players act like stereotypical rednecks and good-ole-boy gawkers instead of the paid professionals that they are supposed to be is laughable in its own right. To say that a woman cannot wear a pair of tight jeans (or baggy jeans, for that matter) and tailored blouse (or sweater or midriff tops) and do her job professionally is the height of male-dominant sexism, female-submissive acquiescence to that sexism, and societal double standardization. To say that a professional adult athlete cannot be expected to act professionally around someone so attired who is merely attempting to do her job is the height of ridiculousness.
Analyst and NFL Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw might have to get “Fired Up” again on Fox NFL Sunday. This past weekend, he took Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to task over his history of and continued inappropriate behavior. Bradshaw even noted that he would have “dumped” Roethlisberger after an incident in early March saw the Super Bowl-winning quarterback accused of sexual assault.
Regardless, Ines Sainz didn’t lodge the complaint against the Jets. Another female reporter who witnessed the incident did.
Apparently Sainz had become so used to such behavior over her nine years of reporting that it was simply to be expected, endured and ignored, bowing to the “boys will be boys” mentality and rationalizations.
Sometimes boys should act like men and, instead of lowering themselves to their more base instincts, elicit some respect for a fellow professional.
Ines Sainz’s mode of dress was and is not relevant, especially considering her years of reporting in like attire (not to mention plenty other examples of female reporters wearing similar clothes). But it isn’t too difficult to ascertain that it will not be long before people are asking what the other female reporter was wearing, drawing comparisons, and bolstering rationales for blatant sexism and continued societal double standards. Because, apparently, millionaire ballplayers cannot and should not be held accountable for their behavior…
“The Early Show,” CBS Television
TV Azteca via CNN.com