Tuesday, July 21, 2009

ESPN reporter Erin Andrews became a victim of video voyeurism

ESPN reporter Erin Andrews became a victim of video voyeurism. It's never been easy for female sports journalists. From Lisa Olson being sexually harassed while covering the New England Patriots to Suzy Kolber having to fend off the advances of a drunk Joe Namath on national television to MMA reporter Loretta Hunt being called an unacceptable name for women on camera by UFC president Dana White, women have had to overcome obstacles not faced by their male counterparts.

Most female sports journalists have dealt with these difficulties with aplomb. However, they were magnified considerably this week when ESPN reporter Erin Andrews became a victim of video voyeurism after someone shot video of her in a private moment through her hotel room peephole.

In conjunction with ESPN and her attorney, Andrews is working with authorities to catch the perpetrators of this heinous act, but the damage has been done. Her privacy has been invaded, and the video of her naked body is out there. Most Web sites have deleted the video under threat of legal action, but that can't undo the fact that it was shot and posted in the first place.

Nor will it change what could be a ripple effect on women working on-camera in sports. Until now, most of the attention around Andrews has been harmless fun. She is attractive, friendly and knowledgeable about sports, which made her a magnet for attention. Blogs were smart enough to take advantage of that. Her nickname is "Erin Pageviews" because any mention of her is an automatic traffic boost.

That sort of attention wouldn't keep most women from working in sports. Sexual assault -- and, make no mistake, Andrews was assaulted -- will. Voyeurism isn't "boys will be boys," or realizing that men are ogling your (clothed) picture. Voyeurism is about taking safety and security from a victim in a place they should feel comfortable.

Now that Andrews is a victim of this crime, why would a woman want to follow her on camera? That's not the sort of thing that ESPN co-workers Chris Berman or Stuart Scott have to worry about.

It's crazy how much Andrews, and all female sports journo-types, get judged for what they look like, what they wear, even the food they eat, rather than simply the work they do. While that sort of scrutiny is unfair, it can be tolerated to a point. But for a woman to have her security and her dignity robbed from her because she is famous? That's unbearable, and might be too much for a young woman who dreams of working the sidelines to handle.

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