“In an intense and stressful moment, I allowed my emotions to get the best of me and said some insulting and regrettable things," McHenry wrote.
"As frustrated as I was, I should always choose to be respectful and take the high road. I am so sorry for my actions and will learn from this mistake."
People I love and respect very much have sent me links with articles featuring the Britt McHenry video and remarked that perhaps this doesn’t help the cause for women in sports. Seriously though, let’s not even go there.
If public incidents were an indication of ineptitude in the sports television industry, ESPN would have been the one-woman 24-hour Robin Roberts channel a long time ago. Women in the industry have enough hurdles to clear without being held accountable for one woman’s rant after her car was towed.
In fact, I don’t think McHenry herself is accountable to anyone but the employee she berated. She didn’t break the law. She didn’t cross a physical boundary. She didn’t break a major moral code of conduct. She was insolent and crude to a person at a place where people are insolent and crude on a regular basis.
The reason I want people to empathize with McHenry is because the things that really irked people within her verbal assault are a direct reflection of the image of that society and her employer push on her every day.
Being a female in a sports newsroom or on a sideline you learn very quickly that these two things are extremely important to your success: how you look, and where you went to school. Obviously women across all industries deal with this, but it is particularly represented on a microcosmic level in TV. It is reiterated persistently in every aspect of the work day.
The way McHenry looks and her Northwestern education were paramount to her achieving her position at ESPN. She may be a great reporter, but those two factors were more than likely a too-large majority for why she was awarded her highly-coveted position. If I know that, then she knows that.
McHenry grew up in a society that already over-emphasizes the fact that being attractive and going to the best school and having the best grades and maybe even being on television is directly correlated to ultimate success. So she went to one of the best journalism schools in the country, worked nights and weekends to prove herself and made sure she always looked as perfect as possible. Then ESPN validated all of that for her by offering her this chance at her dream job.
So now she receives feedback on social media every single day about her physical appearance and how that may or may not affect her ability to do her job. People constantly make the way she looks a focal point of her day. And it’s not just people on social media. It’s her coworkers, her bosses and her bosses’ bosses. It’s the other reporters and writers and producers in the field. It’s the athletes that she is interviewing.
The incessant commentary on her face, her hair, her body, her makeup, her outfits and her place within the ranks of other attractive female reporters is relentless. Despite the fact that this incident has caused a media frenzy over the last few days, these were links found on page one of the google search “Britt McHenry hot”.
Stunning Photos of Sports Reporter Britt McHenry
Hot pictures of ESPN reporter Britt McHenry from Instagram
Britt McHenry hot photos
Britt McHenry hot Instagram photos
So now you put her in a situation where she is angry because her car was towed (which is how everyone reacts when their car is towed), and she is probably feeling victimized in some way by this inconvenience. For context, check out the Yelp! Reviews of this place. There is a strong possibility that she was the target of some unethical business practices. Add that to the normal tow-related stress and now most people are on their last nerve.
So in her rage, she asserts her superiority by drawing from what everyone around her tells her is worth valuing about herself; her looks, her education and her job that she attained through said looks and education. She may have been in the wrong, but she is still a human being whose adult life has been shaped entirely by those two very shallow signifiers of self-worth.
Whether she had a right to get that angry, I cannot say. But it seems a little unfair that now everyone decides to say “Wait a second, Britt. We can all talk about how hot you are and tell you that you need to be smart and pretty simultaneously in order to win our approval. It’s our right to assert that unnecessarily, not yours.”
I don’t follow that logic.
The there’s this gem from Deadspin: Britt McHenry has a history of being rude. Are you kidding me? Am I the only person on the planet that thinks that pointing out that someone in the entertainment industry is rude is redundant? Not only do I not care, but that applies to so many people who do that job that it just ends up looking a little more than biased when you single one person out for it.
Especially when you make the mistake of using Bill Simmons and KEITH OLBERMANN as examples of people who don’t need “camps” to speak on their behalf. Excuse me Deadspin, but do you really want to go down the Simmons/Olbermann white-dudes-who-are-inexplicably-still-employed-and-paid-exorbitant-amounts-of-money-by-ESPN rabbit hole right now?
I didn’t think so.
The human characteristic of being rude is something everyone encounters on a daily basis. But being rude to a random person outside of work does not get you suspended from your job. It just makes you a jerk. Maybe McHenry is just a jerk who is full of herself and thinks she is better than other people and treats most strangers this way. If she is, then she fits right in with a large majority of people that are standing on the sideline right along with her.
Or maybe she's not that much more rude that the next guy. Maybe she just gets defensive and derisive when her integrity is attacked and she got caught in a pretty low moment on a video camera. If I turn on the TV right now, within minutes I could find a semi-famous millionaire screaming obscenities and throwing a glass at someone’s face before security interferes. And I could find that on various different shows on multiple channels.
Maybe we are misplacing our societal outrage.