Safe Spaces?

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For the past few years, writing (and writing about soccer) has been a privilege. P-R-I-V-E-L-E-G-E. I am a college-educated professional who works a 9-5 and has Saturdays and Sundays off. Thanks to this free time and a computer and internet connection at home, I was able to blog with very vague dreams of financial remuneration. The point was writing. I enjoyed writing. I also liked interacting with a handful of you in the comments. Eventually, these funny people called “editors” started to contact me about writing for money. Of course, I also cold-pitched hard, spreading a wide net. But that’s besides the point. I had the money and time to write at home for free for a few years, then started to get paid.

However, one thing is missing from that narrative. I’m also a man.

For bros, we often fail to see our privilege when we talk sports. I always liked the internet because I can send your dick comments to spam, delete without reading your worthless emails, and block folks on Twitter. I think most people can agree that 50% to 75% of sports writing is less than intellectually engaging. A decent chunk is just trash, angry people who are angry at life and vent by taking out their life’s frustrations on local sports teams, coaches, and players. If only local team had won the championship this year your existence as a wageslave would have been 10% less toxic!!

Yet there’s an even more insidious aspect to sports talk and the interwebs: sexist and heterosexist norms. Lady beat reporters regularly get sexually harassed. Sports Illustrated ran a great story on how these fucking pricks use social media to attack female writers and it churns your stomach. As a male writer, I’ve gotten plenty of comments to stories like “you have no dick” etc etc. The attacks against female writers and editors rely on the same premise (a lack of masculinity and therefore inability to reason logically about sports), but are about 100 to 1000 time worse.

One of the key things allowing me to move from a modest blogger to a millionaire freelancer who drives a Rolls Royce and eats caviar has been the ease with which I can give out my email. I don’t have to worry about some sexist pig harassing me based on my gender or sexual orientation. Also, perhaps even worse, we can recall the drama at PuckDaddy when Yahoo had to fire a male writer/editor for harassing a lady Sharks blogger. Not only are there creepy strangers, but sometimes the folks you work with as a lady writer can turn out to be total idiots.

Part of me has a perverted fantasy: form a super hero team of LGBT guy friends to harass the harassers, to subject these “bros” to really graphic and demeaning comments on social media platforms. This would be a double-blow because lots of these sexist harassers are also heterosexists and would be totally freaked. On the other hand, I don’t think this would change in anyway the behavior of the harassers. Their parents failed to teach them empathy and a basic modicum of decency, and female writers & editors have to pay the consequences.

Thus, feel empathy for the folks you work with and writers you admire. And for those writers, kudos for doing better than me (by overcoming these harassing idiots). Also I suggest you freely use the block button on Twitter, the spam button for article comments, and either the delete/spam button for unsolicited emails. And please keep shaming publicly these idiots. Give names. Give details. Force them into a black hole far far away from the interwebs. Only then can talking about sports be useful and informative and inclusive.

Editor’s note: an original version of this article used the term “fucktard”. The author used this believing that “tard” was a suffix that could be attached to “fuck”, not to cast bad light on the mentally disabled. The author, me, is sorry. Really sorry.

2 thoughts on “Safe Spaces?

  1. So, wait. While posting about the importance of chat room civility, you used the word ‘fucktard?’


    • The post was actually about sexism and misogyny. For the record, you and I and anyone else can swear like a sailor, just do it in a non-sexist way.