MODESTY

Posted in Rants on September 15th, 2010 by Ed

You probably have forgotten about Tucker Carlson's Daily Caller website, billed as the conservative answer to HuffPo when it was announced last year. Like anything described as "the conservative version of _______" the Daily Caller is unadulterated shit. It makes Drudge Report look like the collected works of Lincoln Steffens and Ida Tarbell. That it borrows the layout of a 1997 GeoCities website does not help, but I digress.

In a move guaranteed to offend none of the site's 14 daily readers – all white males averaging 318 pounds and 44 years of age – DC decided to offer a "slideshow" as commentary on the controversy surrounding a female reporter, Ines Sainz, working in the New York Jets locker room doing NFL coverage for Spanish-language TV networks in the U.S. and Mexico. It has been alleged by other reporters present that players made suggestive comments toward her and members of the coaching staff threw things at her during practice. Interestingly, the Jets ownership apologized and Sainz herself did not claim to be all that offended by the behavior. The Daily Caller, recognizing that this was becoming A Story nonetheless, left little doubt about which party bears responsibility in their 12-photo montage:

The accompanying caption to this photo reads, "The skin tight jeans — er, we mean, the sensible outfit that sparked the current controversy." Other photos, all emphasizing Sainz's obvious, despicable sluttiness, carry captions like "Hello, Ines! My, what a serious photo you have to headline your website!" and "Sainz’s dressing for success recipe: Low cut lacey top? Check. Necklace with strange white things drawing the eye to her chest? Check." Classy. It is a logical extension of the "Ines Sainz is a Whore" meme that has dominated the media coverage.

The NY Post misquotes and demeans the reporter with this little blurb:

Sexy TV sports reporter Ines Sainz slinked into last night's Jet game in a black minidress with a plunging neckline and matching black stilettos — while insisting that she "felt very uncomfortable" when lusty Jet players made salacious comments about her in their locker room after practice Saturday.

Noted legal experts like Joy Behar and TV actor Richard Belzer were brought in to discuss the intricacies of sexual harassment in the workplace, taking care to thoroughly investigate the possibility that she provoked whatever behavior ensued by wearing clothing too sexy for a locker room full of dudes. Washington Redskins star and stupid quote machine Clinton Portis chimed in helpfully: ""You know, somebody got to spark her interest, or she's going to want somebody. I don't know what kind of woman won't, if you get to go and look at 53 men's [bodies]. I know you're doing a job, but at the same time, the same way I'm going to cut my eye if I see somebody worth talking to, I'm sure they do the same thing." His insightful comment underscores the fact that she was actually in the locker room scouting for hot New York Jets cock, not, as she alleged, because she is paid to do things like interview Spanish-speaking quarterback Mark Sanchez.

I always end up pissing off both sides in this debate, so bear with me for a second. Above is a photo of Sainz at last year's Super Bowl. I would not wear that to work. Personally. If I wanted to take myself seriously as a professional and have others do the same, I would not dress like I went on a shopping spree in the juniors' department. For the same reason that I put on a tie to teach classes, reporters should probably be in business casual while on the clock. That said, the issue here is not "Is her clothing appropriate for her job?" or "Does this total stranger look like a skank?" The issue is, regardless of what she wears, can harassment of someone performing a job be tolerated? The answer is unequivocally no. I understand the urge to question her choice of wardrobe but the bottom line is that whether she shows up to work in a suit of medieval armor or a thong that barely complies with local anti-nudity statutes, sexual harassment is against the law.

Dressing or acting in a way that could be interpreted as engaging in a little exhibitionism – remember Meghan McCain's famous Twitter picture? – is not a green light for others to engage in illegal acts. If I am stupid enough to stumble around a bad part of town blind drunk at 4 AM drunk while holding a wad of money in my hand, one might argue that I am Asking For It. Certainly my judgment could be criticized. But mugging me and taking the cash is still illegal. Similarly, by not wearing something that approximates professional attire, Sainz may make herself a somewhat easier target. Doesn't matter. This isn't about her judgment, her fashion sense, or which outfits are slutty. It is about an individual's right to be protected by the law and for people who violate those laws to be held accountable. Doing something that appears to others to show poor judgment does not mean that an individual consents to the boorish at best, illegal at worst behavior of others.