How do I even begin?
I'm still shaking with disgust after watching the video above, and I feel a strong urge to throw out any sort of well-constructed response and just rant endlessly. All the eloquence and professionalism in the world hasn't stopped this behavior, so why try anymore?
But then, I'd be giving up. And that's exactly what the trolls behind those comments want.
They want the women they target to feel defiled and debased. They want them to cringe in fear every day until they can't even look at their computer screens anymore. They want to impose their own warped sense of failure onto others, so they can feel better about themselves.
What these trolls don't seem to realize is the women they target know they're better than a hoard of cowards hiding behind their keyboards. The comments are painful and reveal an ugly pattern of harassment, but they won't stop women like Julie DiCaro and Sarah Spain. Here's a free tip, trolls: People who work so hard to get where they are rarely give up so easily.
I don't have to defend DiCaro and Spain. They've proven they can take care of themselves. And I hope I don't have to remind women everywhere that men who stoop to this level of harassment are, to put it nicely, pathetic.
However, the world seems to need a reminder that this is a problem - and that problem doesn't end with the men who think it's alright to say such things.
Anyone who brushes these comments off as harmless or claims women are trying to get attention is blind - saying someone deserves to be raped is vicious. Anyone who thinks ignoring these guys will work is delusional - that didn't even work on the playground back in grade school. And anyone who adds in the #NotAllMen argument is completely missing the point - fin.
Even the IHSF team shared the video on our Facebook page with this comment:
"So, you may have seen this video floating around online. We wanted to post it as a reminder:
1.) What women have to face.
2.) That there are terrible men who write terrible things, but they do not speak for every man."
I audibly groaned at that second point, not because it's not true but because that's not the point here. Those men reading the tweets were right to feel uncomfortable.
"I'm having trouble looking at you when I'm saying these things," one man said. Frankly, I'd be worried otherwise.
"I don't think I can even say that," said another. I really appreciated this guy skipping comments he simply couldn't bring himself to say, but again, these aren't things any decent human being should be comfortable saying. I applaud you for being a good guy, bro, but I'm not about to give you a freaking medal.
None of these men were looking for medals of chivalry and honor, by the way. Notice: As much as each of the men apologized and made his discomfort clear, not one of them pulled a #NotAllMen. Not one insisted he would never say such a thing. Not one sputtered some defense. Why? Because though the majority of men would never say such things, others do, and playing the "not me" game does nothing to change that.
The experience of reading those awful comments to their targets doesn't measure up to being the target. While the men struggled to comprehend the cruelty, DiCaro and Spain nodded stoically but never broke down. They projected a bulletproof strength, clearly disturbed by what they were hearing but still standing. And still determined to make their voices heard in the male-dominated sports world.
So, yes, this video reveals a grotesque truth about the online harassment women are somehow still subjected to. And yes, it also reminds us that real men don't engage in such behavior. But it also proves that strong women will not remain silent.
Harassment in all its vile forms will not go unchallenged. The people responsible will not be allowed to tear down another human being, no matter the gender. And no matter how badly the trolls want us to, women will not stop participating in every facet of society.
As DiCaro so perfectly put it to Chicago magazine: "It feels like this is a dying breed of men who can’t handle the fact that women have infiltrated yet one more bastion of maleness that they want to keep from themselves. But, you know, I grew up watching the Bears on my dad’s lap, and I grew up at Wrigley Field watching the Cubs, and they don’t get to keep it all to themselves anymore."