Thursday, September 1, 2011

Privacy & Reporters in Locker Rooms
A Physician’s View


 
Ines Sainz  Sports Reporter
This subject is not medical privacy per se, but it is likely the most egregious violation of personal privacy that our society sanctions and indeed encourages.  As a privacy advocate, I feel that the subject needs to be reviewed with all sides heard.  Certainly the whole topic is never discussed openly on news or sports channels unless there has been a new incident and the athletes’ case for privacy is rarely then explored.   Our present policy of allowing all reporters into locker rooms while the men are showering and changing sets a standard, a very low standard, for the rest of society.   Women reporters sometimes justify their forays into male locker rooms by comparing themselves with female physicians.   This ignores the differences.  All physicians have trained for many years and are sworn to protect and uphold their patients’ privacy.  They have a license to lose if they violate their oaths.  Reporters are under no privacy obligation, may have little training, and are not licensed.  Training is also lacking for the assistants who enter the locker room with the reporters, especially the photographers.  Thus there is no comparison between physicians and reporters as it concerns protecting privacy.  In fact much of reporters’ jobs consist of violating privacy; an extreme example is the UK’s scandal with Murdoch’s News of the World.   Medicine routinely protects their patients’ privacy even in locker rooms.  It is my understanding that the training/medical areas of professional locker rooms are usually off limits to reporters.   Medical standards of privacy far surpass anything in sports.

But there is a larger legal question as well.  In locker rooms, prisons, and healthcare equal employment rights have generally been held to trump privacy rights.  This is especially true when it’s women’s employment rights versus male privacy.  The laws work both ways in theory, but they often aren’t applied equally.  In medicine, some courts have held that male nurses can be excluded from labor and delivery.  In urology clinics no one has even suggested that male nurses and assistants should be given preference, let alone that female nurses could be excluded.  This is despite the fact that lots of men are embarrassed by the presence of women assisting on intimate procedures.  The situation is confounded by the reluctance of men to complain; it is not macho to be modest or embarrassed.  That of course is especially true in professional sports locker rooms where testosterone rules.

Let me say at the outset, I support women’s right to equal access to athletes and it is the accepted law in this country.  I’m against it being accomplished at the expense of athletes.  Women did not devise this system, but the leagues and their owners remain far more concerned with maximum publicity and profits than with privacy.  I’m disappointed that women reporters use their considerable influence to support the present system instead of reforming it as women have often done when their own privacy is at stake.  Many women reporters have stated that they would prefer interviewing athletes at a neutral time when they are not showering or dressing.  But the AWSM (Association of Women in Sports Media), their trade lobby in effect, has never pushed for it.  They should; it would greatly increase their credibility.

The precedent setting decision that opened the way for women in locker rooms is now over 30  years old  (Melissa Ludtke & Time Inc vs. Bowie Kuhn, 1978).  The decision applies strictly only in New York, but has never been challenged.  Women have entered locker rooms in increasing numbers since that time.   The decision is sometimes misinterpreted.  It does not mandate access to locker rooms by women reporters or anyone else for that matter.  Locker rooms remain private and the leagues control all access.  But they can no longer discriminate by gender when they grant access.  In other words, they can ban all access or limit it under any non discriminatory rules.  Some reporters have claimed that professional locker rooms are public areas.  That couldn’t be further from the truth.  If it was, fans would try to enter after each game.  Access passes are tightly controlled.

Reporters often defend the status quo on the basis that no athlete is exposed against their will.  That is basically correct.  The athletes are encouraged to wear towels or robes, but surely that is still an imposition which few women would tolerate themselves when dressing.  If that was generally accepted behavior, we’d see people changing on beaches all the time.  Even with robes and towels however, it was not always possible to avoid exposure and may still not be possible in some locker rooms, especially in baseball’s minor leagues.  Sports reporter Susan Fornoff in her book Lady in the Locker Room, Uncovering the Oakland Athletics (1993) describes one MLB locker room, Cleveland Municipal Stadium, where reporters had to walk past an open shower area and urinals to get to the locker room, regularly going past nude athletes.  Ms. Fornoff says she complained about it to management.  It took years for them to even hang a curtain to block visual access.  She states Candlestick Park in San Francisco was similar.  Even today most athletes are briefly exposed while they change, and there are always a few who will prance around nude, sometimes to purposely harass the ladies that are present.  But the answer is not to register these guys as sex offenders as would happen if this occurred outside the locker room, but to change an unreasonable system.

There is no doubt that if the genders were reversed, the situation would be considered a hostile work environment under Federal law subject to lawsuit and redress.  Instead the situation has been turned upside down.  If the men should post pinups on their lockers, it would be declared a hostile work environment for women!  This issue arose again in 2008 when the Chicago White Sox put a blow up doll in the locker room and a woman reporter complained of a hostile environment.  It’s a lose-lose situation for the men.  They are denigrated if they complain about the presence of women while they are changing and showering but are not permitted any locker room antics themselves without the risk of a complaint being made by the media.

A year ago, another in a series of periodic incidents arose when Ines Sainz, a Mexican feature reporter, accused the New York Jets of harassing her.  This charge was really made public by the AWSM.   In response to the resulting media storm, WTTW, Chicago public TV, organized a forum consisting of 4 women sports reporters to discuss the issue.  The opening question was ‘why are we still discussing this decades later.’   The answer is simple, because it still remains an unprecedented violation of privacy.  The issue will never go away until it is redressed.  Their discussion does make some good points and is well worth listening through.   Still a basic question remains, why invite only women reporters to discuss the issue?   That’s like having a forum on the causes of poverty and inviting only billionaires to be on the panel.  Is it any wonder these women don’t see a problem?  Why not constitute a panel with an equal representation of athletes?  If current athletes feel inhibited from commenting, I’m sure they could find former athletes willing to talk on the record.  The only athletes that the mass media quoted at the time of the incident were those that made sexist remarks, such as Clinton Portis whose comment about women reporters finding some of the ‘packages’ they see attractive was widely publicized.  That comment was made off the cuff by an athlete who wasn’t familiar with the incident.  I’m sure they’d have no trouble finding some more thoughtful comments.  Lance Briggs is another example of a player who was criticized for saying women don’t belong in the locker room.  In prior years they also did a number on Reggie White who is still being lambasted for saying that he saw no reason to be naked in front of any woman who wasn’t his wife, hardly an outrageous opinion.  Does the mass media prefer to paint athletes who’d appreciate some privacy as Neanderthals?  Needless to say there have been a wealth of sexist comments by women reporters as well, the most publicized perhaps being Patti Shea’s giggling adolescent like column of her first impression of nude athletes.  This column was roundly denounced by women reporters as the rare exception to their ‘professionalism.’  The original column from the Santa Clarita Signal is no longer available online, but can be found in its entirety on other sites.   

A brief quote from her foray into the Dodgers locker room:  Just then, Shawn Green emerges from the showers, rubbing a towel on his head and wearing only a towel. Three millimeters thick of terry cloth is separating Green's goodies from my life's most embarrassing moment. I really didn't have that much time to think about it before Green whipped off the towel and began to get dressed. Holy &#$@!!!   I'm going to need to see a chiropractor for the whiplash I gave myself.   

I don’t quote that column to prove that reporters are irresponsible.  Indeed established women reporters are surely overwhelmingly professional and would disapprove of that column.  But we are all human with urges and thoughts we can’t always suppress.  We can only surmise how young women reporters and photographers react early in their careers.  How many private videos are in existence of nude athletes in the locker room or unseen interviews that had to be discarded because a nude athlete walked by during the filming?  A few have indeed been inadvertently shown on TV; an example is Minnesota Viking’s tight end VisantheShiancoe on local Fox TV.  This caused no Federal reaction unlike the brouhaha over a microsecond exposure of Janet Jackson’s nipple during the Super Bowl.  

Even according to this WTTW discussion, most athletes would rather be left alone in the locker room.  The panelists said the men preferred to be free of any reporters, regardless of gender.   I’m sure that is true, yet this was not an issue 30 years ago before women entered locker rooms.  Women in the locker room are a game changer.  The athletes’ opinions were looked at in a poll by Sports Illustrated, October 15, 1990.  Of 143 NFL players 38.5 percent were in favor of women reporters entering the locker room, while 47.6 percent were opposed, and 13.9 percent were undecided.   A poll is almost beside the point though as any individual’s right to bodily privacy is not subject to and cannot be taken away by majority vote.  Still, an updated survey is needed which not only asks athletes if they support the status quo but if they would prefer alternative solutions.  Athletes remain role models and celebrities in our society.  If they would admit that they too like a little privacy, it would make it much easier for all men.  The average guy would be less embarrassed asking for privacy in medical and other situations as well.  The behavior of athletes helps set a standard for society.

The WNBA had no trouble finding an acceptable solution giving equal access to all reporters: “The room (locker room) will re-open 5 to 10 minutes after the final buzzer and will remain open for a minimum of 30 minutes. Following the 30-minute media access period, locker rooms will be closed for a 20-30 minute period to allow players to shower and dress. The locker rooms may then again be opened to the media.”   

The male sports leagues could adopt a similar policy tomorrow.  Indeed similar solution have been advocated for years for the men; here’s one from Sports Illustrated in 1990.  The WNBA solution satisfies all reporter demands for immediate access to catch the emotions of the players following a game.  It doesn’t require any modifications to the locker room layouts.  What prevents it,  maybe only tradition.  Occasionally the need to make immediate travel connections shortens the time allowed after a game.  If time was in short supply, the leagues can already eliminate or shorten access time.

In summary, I am in favor of equal opportunity employment rights.  I am also in favor of full privacy rights given to male athletes just as they are presently granted to women athletes.  These objectives are not incompatible.  The time is long past due when professional sports leagues revise their rules so that all reporters, photographers et al are prohibited from locker room access while athletes are showering and dressing.  I believe that we are the only country in the world where this situation is routine (excluding American leagues in Canada).  Better yet locker rooms should all be remodeled to provide areas which are not sensitive for media access to athletes.  Recognition and correction of this issue would reverberate throughout all of society improving privacy rights for all including patients under treatment.

37 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dr. Sherman I could not agree more. Reggie White has an suffix to his name, Rev. When male atheletes do speak out, they are attacked as the reporters control the message. I would put forth that these women reporters are some of the most blatant sexist on record and yet get a pass because they are part of that inner circle of reporters. Many claim female atheletes are treated equally citing the WNBA, what they mean is reporters are treated the same, not the atheletes. They claim they are professionals just doing their job, so are plumbers and athletic trainers, would they allow them in their locker rooms? Perhaps the most obvious double standard is college sports. A while back a female reporter wrote an article about being in the USC football team locker room. When I and others challenged her on her blog she put forth all of the usual arguements, yet when I challenged her why she was allowed in the male football teams locker room, but the womens basketball and other womens sports teams locker rooms were off limits, she had no answer. I find it interesting that these female reporters are afforded privacy to dress and undress at their gyn's but do not feel the need to do so for athletes. I find these reporters to be self serving with little to no concern for the atheletes, they subject them to treatment none would put up with themselves and since they control the message, they misrepresent the situation and slant the argument to serve their wants. It is just another example of why reporters and the media have lost the respect of the majority of the country. And as to comparing themselves to MD's, what a joke, they also miss one important fact, unless it is an emergency I give consent for my Dr to treat me, they force themselves into the locker rooms with lawyers and intimidation. The ruling in the case that opened the door was by a female judge who without visiting the locker room in question indicated atheletes could choose to be covered or hidden in the locker room, which as you stated is not possible in some locker rooms. All in all, it is just an abuse of the power of the media, hardly professional. alan

Doug Capra said...

Excellent piece, Joel. You highlight one example of the cultural trends that encompass the whole issue of patient modesty in general, and how that affects men in particular.
Over the years I've written this on my posts: Beginning, esp. after WW2, with a turning point in the 1960's, all kinds of cultural norms began to change. This coincided with women's struggle for various rights, esp. employment rights -- and, with the embedding of these rights into federal law, which made women an entitled minority. At the same time, technology is allowing women to enter more male-dominated professions where physical strength and been a major factor. And women showed themselves more than capable of doing these jobs. You and I are not against fair employment rights for both genders.
What's happened though, as we see in your article, is a cultural acceptance at the policy level that women's rights to employment in male domianted jobs most often trump male rights of privacy, the same rights of privacy that women just take for granted for themselves. We see this in prisons, and other "Total Institutions." This world view may or may not dominate the medical profession, but it certainly has a significant influence on how men are treated in intimate medical situations where women would, simply as a general rule, be accommodated or at least asked their preferences.
Fine article.

Terry_L_Brown said...

To believe that female reporters should be allowed in a male locker room is the epitome of feminist hypocrisy.

The Feminist Movement is ultimately about gaining power and control over men. And the fact that females are now allowed into a male locker room when the men are naked or semi-naked reveals just how successful that agenda has become. It is successful to the point that any male athlete that dares speak out against this blantant invasion of his basic human rights to privacy, respect, and dignity is immediately slapped down by intimidation and threats of the loss of his job and income by feminists, feminist organizations, and those who have been brainwashed into believing it is clothed female reporters that experience sexual harrassment in a male locker room rather than the athlete.

I addressed this issue in detail in a 4-part article posted on The Cypress Times (http://www.thecypresstimes.com/ColumnistSetion/Columnists/Terry_L_Brown/498). It explains why the arguments feminists use to rob male athletes of their basic human rights are flawed and hypocritical.

If feminists and female reporters were truly interested in equal rights they would insist that the sports organizations forbide all reporters – male and female – from being allowed in the locker room. Rather, a room would be specifically set aside for the purpose of interviewing the athletes after they are dressed. But they don’t. They insist on bullying their way into the locker room in the name of equality.

It seems the idea of equality for feminists is the subjugation of men.

Joel Sherman MD said...

Mr. Brown has indeed written extensively on the subject. I could not get his link to work, but here is part one of his lengthy article which I'll comment on further later.

Joel Sherman MD said...

Terry Brown's article is well worth reading and we agree on most points. I would put the emphasis differently though. The present situation is not the primary fault of women reporters. They are indeed entitled to equal access to athletes and the system is not of their doing. Indeed in some ways they are victimized by it just as the athletes. They have had to work within the system and have limited ability to change it, though they have certainly not tried.
The main reason to oppose reporters of either sex in the locker rooms while they are changing is simply one of privacy rights. Equal employment laws should be used to change the system and not to mandate that women be present while men are changing. Both can be done, just as the WNBA does.
What prevents it, mostly all reporters’ insistence that they need to have immediate access to athletes to satisfy the fans. Owners who could change the system immediately obviously believe that canard. They care about money and profits and not at all about the players’ privacy. But that assertion that fans insist on immediate interviews was always doubtful and is even more so in this day and age of instant internet access. There are several sports that manage to survive and thrive without letting reporters intrude on athletes while dressing. Golf and tennis are good examples. On the other side, locker room interviews haven't helped hockey. Indeed the majority of colleges do not allow locker room access, at least during the regular season. Each college sets their own policies. Yet college football and basketball is a multibillion dollar enterprise and growing. The more restrictive European policies haven't hurt soccer.
Truly if the players unions would insist upon their rights, the system would change. As long as players are willing to live within the system and the mass media continues to suppress or ridicule any dissent, the system won't change.

Anonymous said...

Jenni Carlson, sports writer and chairwoman of the AWMS claims that "The locker room has been the designated spot for postpractice and postgame interviews for at least a century." Herein lies the problem. It is also the very same place that athletes change from their uniforms, shower, then change into their street clothes. Now that females members of the news media must be given the same access as males, the locker rooms must change. A designated interview area where all players are fully clothed at all times must be constructed. A new separate area where the players undress, shower and change is off limits to ALL media at all times. The players contracts require them to cooperate with the media, therefore this situation is forced on the athletes by management. Therefore management must foot the bill to construct these new locker room facilities. Why hasn't this been done? Probably to save money and the players union not making it an issue.

http://edition.cnn.com/2010/OPINION/09/14/carlson.female.reporter/

USC fan

Joel Sherman MD said...

Thanks for the link which I haven't previously seen. Another women reporter who starts off by saying how stinky locker rooms are and the extreme sacrifice she makes by going in against her will.
She doesn't document her claim that women have gone in to men's locker rooms for a century. That must be a surprise to other female reporters who were kept out.
Her major argument is the locker room is where she has to be. That's only because the leagues have been unwilling to make more reasonable accommodations for reporters.

Doug Capra said...

Joel and others:

"Another women reporter who starts off by saying how stinky locker rooms are and the extreme sacrifice she makes by going in against her will."

This is a cultural theme we find in all violations of men's modesty, a historical theme that goes way back. It is essentially this: "Viewing men naked is a sacrifice women have to make. It is an offense to them, to their modesty, their virtue, their sensibilities. Men must be grateful that women are willing to do this.
Historically, in Western culture, men's naked bodies have represented wildness, danger, threat. Female naked bodies have represented allure, seduction, temptation.
We see this theme played out in the locker room scenarios we're talking about. We see it played out in prisons. We also see it in medicine, with the overwhelming number of female nurses, nurse assistants, cna's, med techs, etc. It's the elephant in the room connected to much of the motivation behind the use or non use of chaperones.
Inertia. It's easier to just go along with cliche, custom, tradition -- than it is to find out if and how cultural norms have changed. It's easier to just get with the program than it is to ask how people feel about this issue. It's easier to focus on ourselves, or feelings, or sensibilities, than it is to focus on the "other."

Terry_L_Brown said...

Excellent points Doug. Your analysis of females' disgust at having to enter a male locker room is exactly right.

I touched on this issue in Part 4 of the aritcle I wrote for The Cypress Times. It can be accessed at http://www.thecypresstimes.com/article/Columnists/Terry_L_Brown/ROBBING_MALE_ATHLETES_OF_THEIR_RIGHTS_ONE_LOCKER_ROOM_AT_A_TIME_PART_4/39911.

Anonymous said...

Another good article about the absurdity of having opposite gender reporters in the locker room.

http://www.onfrozenblog.com/2010/09/15/going-undercover-on-proximity-to-pro-packages.html

Anonymous said...

Rock Mamola opined: "Here is my suggestion to all professional and collegiate sports.....close the locker room completely. That way the players indeed have the sanctuary that they truly hold dear all to themselves and have a set time for the locker room to open to the media after everyone has made sure they are properly dressed for the occasion. Set a time limit on the access the media is granted and leave it at that. This solves almost every single argument about whom is allowed where and when. "

http://www.chicagonow.com/blogs/rock-report/2010/09/ines-sainz-latest-example-why-women-shouldnt-be-allowed-in-mens-locker-rooms.html

Joel Sherman MD said...

Rock's idea is a variation on what the WNBA does. Though I think the reporters and owners demand immediate full access to get their stories as fast as possible before the athletes shower, and then the locker rooms can be closed. Makes no difference to me. I'd rather listen to the play be play commentators analyze the game than to any athlete interviews.

Anonymous said...

Well, this is an unusual reversal of who is naked and who is clothed. It seems to me all of this could be solved if no reporters were allowed in until everyone had a chance to shower and change. I can't for the life of me understand why this can't be resolved.

http://espn.go.com/espn/story/_/id/7058351/a-sports-reporter-bares-all-espn-magazine

Joel Sherman MD said...

Thanks for that link. It does highlight the absurdity of the situation.
The article states most professional athletes get used to the situation of being naked in 'public' locker rooms. But of course, they have no real choice in the matter.

Doug Capra said...

As to the articled linked, here's a quote:

""It's just ingrained with most of us at this point," Westgarth says. "The whole nudity thing doesn't bother us." For some, the exhibitionism is actually enjoyed. Bernier tells the story of a peer who always wears a towel around his neck -- never his waist -- when giving interviews. Part of locker room reporting means figuring out who covers up and who lets it all hang out. The players, in turn, grow accustomed to the procedure too. "You deal with the same people all the time, especially at home, so it's not that big of a deal," Westgarth says."

Frankly, I'm always suspect when one person acts to speak for the whole profession. So, that's how it is will all the players? Sorry. This is the same kind of assumption medical professionals make when they say that they never or rarely run into men who ask for same gender care -- this, few if any men prefer it.
"It's no big deal" Westgarth says. Sorry. I don't believe that's the case for many professional athletes.

Anonymous said...

Well apparently male athletes are not the only ones to have unwanted people in with them when they are trying to change. It seems to me this fits the definition of a hostile work environment. I am surprised there hasn’t been a lawsuit over this.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/09/fashion/09naked.html?pagewanted=all

Joel Sherman MD said...

Yes and there are some other similar situations. Theater dressing rooms are frequently casual about nudity for instance.
The situations are not identical though as participants are mainly topless and not fully nude, they are not showering and no one is trying to interview them.

Doug Capra said...

Fascinating article. Good find, because it's an indicator of how mores within the celebrity and entertainment world today taken as the societal "norm." They're not. But celebrity culture adopts certain lifestyles that bleed over into our culture. Sometimes these lifestyles do become the norm, sometimes not. Anyway, articles like this help to place this whole patient modesty issue into a much larger cultural context.

Anonymous said...

From Europe

In the UK no female reporter would ever be allowed in an a male locker room. Male reporters do not go in either. They have an area outside to talk and grab the players when they come out.

As for the medical sittuation about 40% of all doctors are female and 15% of all nurses are male. A male patient can request a male nurse or doctor to wash and look after them. Many male patients do. Privacy is held to be important for both genders. As for prisons no guard of the opposite gender is allowed in the toilet or shower facilities. It seems to me that the USA does not hold mens privacy and rights equally to that of females. I also think that is humiliating the way you treat men and nudity. If men and women were treated the same there would be more male nurses, and male reporters would be allowed in female locker rooms. That will not happen they will change the rules before male reporters are allowed in female locker rooms.

Joel Sherman MD said...

I must admit that this story surprised me. Woman sports reporters invariably claim that they avoid all entanglements with the players, that it's strictly professional. But apparently some don't even make a pretense anymore.

I follow the Boston Red Sox and decided to explore why their 3 year sideline reporter Heidi Watney's contract was not renewed this year. Heidi was a Miss California contestant and attractive by any standards. The linked story (which has been denied by Heidi) documents that she was involved in a barely concealed affair with Boston's catcher Jason Varitek which was instrumental in Varitek's subsequent divorce. According to this story, Heidi later dropped Varitek for another Boston ball player which precipitated a fist fight between the two.

It's amazing to me that the Red Sox or their TV network (NESN)don't stricly prohibit entanglements between the reporters and players. Having a women running around the locker room who has multiple affairs with the players is one complication no one wants to have. No wonder the Red Sox don't seem to work together as a team.

Perhaps the fault is picking a 'reporter' who has more training as a beauty queen than as a serious reporter. Varitek retired from baseball this year though it likely had more to do with his batting average than his morals.

Anonymous said...

ESPN published an article by Jason Whitlock who argues that locker room interviews are a dumb tradition and really needs to stop altogether.

http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=whitlock/050811

StayingFit said...

It appears that ESPN's sideline reporter, Samantha Steele, is dating Vikings QB Christian Ponder.
Here is one of the many stories on the web:


http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/blog/nfl-rapidreports/20606949/vikings-qb-christian-ponder-dating-espns-samantha-steele


What I find most interesting is this quote:


"So when Ponder was finished with morning practice, he had a slew of reporters around his locker waiting for a comment.

“She was up here a couple weeks ago with me,” said Ponder."


We are told that reports, such as Ms. Steele, should have full access to men's locker rooms. Hey, they're professionals, right? So, there is nothing inappropriate about this. There certainly shouldn't be any
sexual tension, and any guy who is made uncomfortable is either immature, insecure, or homosexual, true?

And yet, we now find that Ms. Steele is dating one of the very men whom she may have interviewed at his locker. So, apparently, Ms. Steele didn't cease to be a woman when she became a reporter. In fact, it's not surprising to find that she is a woman, first and foremost.

As such, she has no business being in the men's locker room. To state otherwise is hypocrisy, plain and simple.

Anonymous said...

There is a simple explanation for why female reporters have access to men athletes in locker rooms and men reporters do not have access to female athletes in locker rooms: misandry. The U.S. has become increasingly misandrist thanks to laws and legal decisions pushed through or rendered by feminists. It does not take more than a couple minutes listening to a feminist to know that she or he hates men.

Another twist on this issue involves men athletes at universities. To maintain their scholarships, they not only have to tolerate females having unregulated and unlimited access to them while they are in the locker rooms, they have to be silent because voicing an objection can cost them their scholarships. Female athletes do not face these problems.

Anonymous said...

In saner times, it would have gone without saying that a woman would have had no place whatsoever wandering around a men's locker-room while the latter was in use (nor a man doing the same in a women's locker-room). But these times are anything but sane.

@Joel Sherman
"It’s a lose-lose situation for the men."

Exactly. A man is either humiliated by his nakedness' being exposed to the female gaze, or is humiliated when he objects to his nakedness' being exposed to the female gaze. ...Where are the feminists' complaints of 'injustice' here? Feminists are in truth not concerned with justice or inequality, but more with simply replacing male prerogative with female prerogative. They don't care about 'equality', because they don't care about men.

"Is it any wonder these women don’t see a problem?"

Modern western women (whether sports reporters, nurses, doctors or writers) have a strange solipsism: so whereas men, for all their faults, will understand a woman's wish not to expose her genitalia to the male gaze in locker-rooms (or elsewhere), women do not accord the same empathy towards men --- indeed they typically see male modesty as pathetic or laughable and unmanly. ...And so many seize such opportunities to patronize or ridicule. (And they do so with impunity, whereas men who behave thus are apt to be severely censured.)

We're told endlessly that whereas men are innately insensitive and lecherous, women are not. We are told that women are the more compassionate, caring sex. Yet how do women square this claim with the way in which they deny men modesty and dignity, and patronize and humiliate men who object?

StayingFit said...

On a recent episode of NPR's “Wait, wait, don't tell me” program, Michele Tafoya appeared as a special guest. She is the sidelines reporter for Sunday Night Football, and one of the first women to conduct interviews in men's locker rooms. Here is a link to that program:

http://www.npr.org/2013/05/25/186467894/nfl-sideline-reporter-michele-tafoya-plays-not-my-job


Note how the show's host describes Ms. Tafoya, and other women who insisted that they have a “right” to enter men's locker rooms, as “pioneers” who wouldn't take no for an answer. If ever male reporters are allowed in women's locker rooms, I seriously doubt that the adjective used to describe them will be anything so kind as “pioneers”. But then, I seriously doubt that such a day will ever come.

Also, note how the host mentions that “some of the players were like, wait a minute, we don't want girls in here. And those pioneers were like, no, we're going, we're doing our job. So is it awkward for you?”

Amazing, isn't it? He acknowledges that the players were uncomfortable having a woman in their locker room, but he ignores this. Rather, he focuses on these pioneering women, and their feelings. Note how he asks if it is awkward for HER! What about the guys? I guess their comfort is irrelevant.

Note also this exchange between a female panelist and Ms. Tafoya:

“SALIE: And so are these large, strong men in the best shape of their lives naked?
(LAUGHTER)
TAFOYA: Pretty much, yeah.”

She then proceeds to relate a “humorous” anecdote, concerning her first attempt to interview a player, and how poorly she handled the fact that he was fully nude when she approached him.

Throughout all of this is an acknowledgment that the men are often fully nude, that many are uncomfortable with her presence, that she NOTICES their nudity, and other females are jealous of her. But, the fact that this is might be inappropriate is not mentioned. Instead, she is treated as some sort of crusader for women's rights.

This program is unique in that questions and comments are made that are normally avoided when interviews with women such as Ms. Tafoya are conduced. Sadly, it also confirms what we have known all along. Men's comfort is irrelevant, even to other men, such as Mr. Sagal. Perhaps he feels it would be impolitic to question the right of women to enter men's locker rooms, or perhaps he truly possesses no empathy for those other men.

Joel Sherman MD said...

In a similar vein StayingFit, ESPN is going to do a series in the summer. One of the episodes will be about female reporters in the locker room. It will be called: "Let them wear towels." As it is produced by women, it will almost certainly proclaim how the reporters have proudly won their 'rights.'
Here's a descriptive link.

StayingFit said...

Thanks Dr. Sherman. I had a look at some articles, concerning the "Let them wear towels" episode. As you said, it definitely seems to be on the side of the reporters. I may watch it, just to see if they make any mention of the other side of the argument. I couldn't help but note that many comments on the articles that I saw echoed the sentiments expressed here. I realize that I'm likely to be disappointed, but I would love to see some of these arguments made in the ESPN film.

By the way, I also find the title to be disingenuous. If the men were allowed to cover up, or, better yet, to shower and dress, prior to the reporters entering the locker room, then there really wouldn't be much controversy. The title implies that this is the case when, in fact, it is not.

Further, I have to ask why the men should be asked to cover up in a men's locker room? It reminds me of the woman who commented on using the men's room at a stadium. When asked if she didn't think it was wrong for her to do so, given that men would be using the urinal, she said that they should "zip up" when she comes in.

Clearly, some women (and men) don't believe that there are any places where men should be allowed to have privacy. If women want to come in, men must accommodate them. Of course, it does not work the same in reverse.

AntiMisandry said...

Great article and comments by all.

The usually misandric ESPN just released this video on their youtube channel:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4FhS9DJppc

Apparently men cannot have their human privacy, otherwise these "feminist pioneers" cannot brag about "entering a male-dominated space (a male bathroom)" and give themselves pats on the back for doing so...

Joel Sherman MD said...

I note that the episode of Nine for IX, 'Let them wear towels' will be on tonight on ESPN, 8PM EDT repeated at 9.
I doubt very much that it will be a fair look at the topic. ESPN has been a leader in pushing women into locker rooms and the show is very unlikely to provide any other viewpoint.

StayingFit said...

Thanks for sharing that information, Dr. Sherman. Perhaps I'm fortunate that I missed that program. I am, however, curious if anyone here watched it. If so, would you mind giving some "highlights"?

Joel Sherman MD said...

StayingFit, there were no surprises. The program highlighted women reporters difficulties getting equal access and the important incidents and cases on the way. Many women reporters were interviewed. I recall no athletes being interviewed. certainly none who were opposed. Certainly no mention was made of athletes rights to privacy and other possible solutions to the dilemma such as the one used successfully by the WNBA.
My guess is the program is available online.

Joel Sherman MD said...

Here's a short ESPN video on the subject with a few interesting comments. Of course it is ESPN so their bottom line is always that women in the locker room with men dressing is a great advance in civilization.

Joel Sherman MD said...

A 2 year old poll from Seton Hall found that a clear majority of women and nearly half of men thought that female reporters should be banned from male locker rooms. Over a third thought that all reporters should be banned.
Our media is so slanted though that you'd never be aware that public opinion is against them when you hear the mass media discuss the issue.

Anonymous said...

To clarify a point: the court ruling in question did not even mandate equal access. It mandated equal access when the privacy of athletes could be secured by other means. The judge ordered to grant equal access AND ORDERED them to put up some curtains (the judge also left them the option of just banning all reporters).

As Dr. Sherman mentioned, too many people are hurling mud at the women on this issue, partly because so many of the women writing on the subject display borderline-sociopathic tendencies.

If you want to see this issue change you need to contact the rule-makers -- the NFL, MLB, & NHL -- and let them know how you feel about it.

--Daniel

Anonymous said...

It's seems that any individual person should never be obligated as a part of their job to undress in front of the opposite sex, or in any other manner need to face personal/sexual humiliation as a prerequisite of keeping their job. The whole thing seems to me like a "work rights" issue. Were not talking about strip joints here, this supposedly is - or used to be, the "clean", wholesome American pastime of college and professional sports.

Joel Sherman MD said...

Here's two related recent articles. The first by a female reporter starts off with the obvious, that it's awkward for women in the men's locker room. She really didn't have to say anymore, but of course she goes on to give justifications for their presence. There's only one actually, women should have the same access as men. But in truth, no reporters should be in the locker room.
The second article by a male reporter starts off the same, but then destroys the common argument that reporters have to be in the locker room because that's where the stories are. Indeed he says, players stopped saying anything important in locker rooms a long time ago, because of all the media hullabaloo there. They can never tell when a story will be picked up and sensationalized, so they stick to trite remarks. They can't discuss in detail; it's all on the record. It didn't used to be that way when only the beat reporters were in the locker room with no cameras and recorded media. So there really is NO justification for reporters in locker rooms which is the custom in the rest of the world.

Anonymous said...

Females should not be allowed in male mocker rooms no more than male reporters should be allowed in female locker rooms. Why is it ok for a female reorter to go in the male's locker room but a male reporter can't interview a nude female beach volleyball player?? She's almost nude anyway on the court. Come on !!!