I CAN’T: Another Sexist Press Release About Women and Sports

The first sentence? "Sports is not the first place that you imagine seeing girls unless they are cheering on the sidelines."

Jun 2, 2014 at 12:30pm | Leave a comment

It’s no secret that at times I can be a little naïve, but when it comes to women watching sports, I was pretty convinced we were all on the same page. Like: It’s a thing. That happens. Often. According to Neilsen reports, 30 percent of people watching NBA and MLB games are women. Thirty-seven percent of the people watching NASCAR are female. And the NFL says women make up almost 50% of its audience.
 
And while I am totally used to and sadly expect men out in the real world to be condescending and patronizing to me and other women who are sports fans, I don’t expect it when it comes to the media or, specifically, a press release trying to get me to write about something.
 
Let me be more specific.
 
Last week, I received a press release about Bonnie Bernstein, an incredibly accomplished sports broadcaster, journalist, and also a public health advocate who dedicates her time to educating Americans about Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). According to the press release, Bonnie is a survivor of DVT and “Since surviving DVT, Bonnie has dedicated her time to reaching out to and educating Americans about this preventable condition that affects more than 2 million people each year and kills more people in the United States than breast cancer and AIDS combined.” She also is “committed to helping reduce childhood obesity in America.”
 
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Great! This is interesting stuff. Definitely something as a woman who is interested in sports, I might want to write about.
 
But here’s where they went wrong.
 
The first sentence of that press release? The one that’s supposed to draw me in, get me engaged, and convince me to read more?
 
Yeah. It’s this:
 
“Sports is not the first place that you imagine seeing girls unless they are cheering on the sidelines.”
 
It goes on to mention that Bonnie Bernstein has gone to the top her field, and OMG GUESS WHAT?
 
She did so “while wearing some killer heels.” 
 
Don’t even get me started on high heels and the fact that in order to be taken seriously in the corporate world, women are expected to wear shoes that literally handicap our ability to walk quickly or run, but what is it with people bragging about women’s accomplishments by pointing out their footwear? Soon it won’t be enough for a woman to run a marathon. She’ll have to do so while wearing stilettos. It’s so ridiculous.
 
The press release went on to suggest some amazing “editorial ideas” that writers may want to use in case the “Bonnie Bernstein, veteran sports journalist and network executive, is a survivor of and public advocate for DVT” angle -- you know, the ACTUAL story here -- wasn't compelling enough.
 
What are these ideas, you ask?
 
Let me share a few taken verbatim from the press release (editorial commentary, my own):
 
Deciphering Sports: How to Be a Woman AND Know Your Football Calls
In this story, I’ll teach you what it means when the referee touches his palms above his head, and I’ll do so while ensuring having this small amount of football knowledge doesn’t literally turn you into a man. That’s right, you can understand things like “roughing the passer” and “holding” and still bake cakes and get your period. But only if you’re wearing heels while doing so!
 
The In’s & Out’s to Sports: A Girl’s Quick Guide to Keeping Up with NFL
It’ll be “quick” because, duh, you’re a girl, and you have other things you should be doing, like brushing your hair and putting on lipstick. If this were a boy’s guide, or, you know, just a non-gender specific guide to "Keeping Up with the NFL," it would include things like a history of the game, Hall of Fame players, how and why the players line up the way they do on the field, and so much more. But since it’s a “girl’s guide,” instead I’ll focus on things like how you should always root for your man’s team and not be too naggy if they lose, how to pick your favorite team based on the colors or mascot, and best of all: favorite snacks you can make on NFL Sundays!
 
Doing It All As A Woman (And on the Go!): A Guide to Eating Well & Staying Fit While on the Road
This article is pretty simple: Don’t eat fast food and try to get enough sleep. You’re welcome!
 
Understanding Superfoods & The Perfect Green Smoothie
I literally have no idea why this was a suggestion, but I’m pretty sure the "perfect green smoothie" is called a "mint chocolate chip milkshake." Here's a recipe for how to make one.
 
I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that PR firms are sending emails with “The New Independent Woman Conquering A Man's World in 4" Heels” as a subject line. But I also believe they shouldn’t be surprised when the smart and intelligent women they’re trying to reach react with frustration and disdain.
 
The person who should be the most upset by all of this? Bonnie Bernstein, a bright and talented woman who found success in a world dominated by men, but whose heel height is the lede.
 
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I reached out to Bonnie Bernstein for comment, but unfortunately did not hear back. If you’d like to learn more about her achievements, you can read all about them on her website