In no way is this an excuse or justification for any type of harassment. No matter what any member of the opposite sex says or does it’s not okay to make sexual advances or infringe upon their rights or personal space.
Having stated those two facts, let’s look at this situation for what it really is: a culture clash.
Nobody is focusing on the cultural differences between the roles of women in Mexico versus the United States. Yes the event in question occurred on U.S. soil, but the ‘victim’ has stated she wasn’t disturbed by the attention she received. It was the involvement of and worries from other reporters that turned this situation into a firestorm.
In Mexico the beauty of a woman is celebrated in every aspect of life. In America we confine it to certain professions. Therefore, we’re sensitive to those lines being crossed. Case in point: the difference between a Mexican news station weather forecast and what you see on your local news.
A brief scroll through the TV Azteca homepage (www.aztecadeportes.com) will further outline the differences between our countries when it comes to the role of females in the newsroom. For instance, you won’t see a link to bikini photos of Doreen Gentzler on NBCWashington.com (apologies for the mental image, just making a point).
Ines Sainz has been a well-known reporter worldwide, and trust me, it’s not for her ability to ask the tough question. In Mexico, where she works for TV Azteca, Sainz has carved out a career as a pseudo-celebrity due to her, umm, assets.
This is not to discredit any journalistic skills Ms. Sainz may possess, but, it is to say that in Mexico her looks have done more to attribute to her popularity. To us here in America, that sounds appalling. In Mexico, it’s not.
However, this is not Ines Sainz’s first involvement with the NFL. The duties of her last visit somehow resulted in her measuring players biceps and being carried off the field on a couple of players shoulders. Measuring biceps transcends professional sports journalism and erases any lines that existed concerning the physical attraction between males and females. She clearly knows the affect she has in a male sports world and has a history of utilizing that to her advantage. Again, it’s the cultural difference between the American and Mexican media.
Now, shifting the attention to the fellas in the Jets locker room. They have a duty to uphold professional standards as well. They are employed by the NFL and the New York Jets organization which holds them to standards of conduct like any other business in the United States. Harassment is something that shouldn’t be tolerated and I commend the NFL on reaching out to Ms. Sainz. If she was touched or subjected to sexually perverse words or actions the NFL should punish the persons involved and the Jets organization accordingly. On the other hand f it was as harmless as extra attention or cat calls, given her history, it’s not a concern.
However, it needs to be understood that locker rooms are an entirely different dynamic. Unless you’ve been in one, you really have no idea the type of language, jokes, and behaviors prevalent. The combination of 53 testosterone fueled men, half to full nakedness, and a lady who dresses like a teenager who developed early is a disastrous one. I’m not absolving the players, but I am stating the truths about locker rooms nationwide.
Ines Sainz was not blindsided by the attention she received.
It is the duty of every reporter to study their subject matter and adjust themselves accordingly. If Ms. Sainz were to go cover the Iranian soccer team I doubt very much she’d wear or do the same things she did at Super Bowl media days and the New York Jets practice facility.
The real issues lie in the difference between American and Mexican cultures and the sensitivities that come with attempting to force fit one culture over top of the other. We’re both guilty.
Sainz came here with no intentions of being seen as a professional journalistic reporter (listen carefully) according to American standards. Her duty, as is the same in Mexico, was to be flirtatious toward the athlete(s) involved in her reports and provide eye candy for TV Azteca viewers.
Our reporters and rights groups have placed American feminist sensitivities and boundaries of professional journalism around Sainz which only served to inflate the situation.
Since, Sainz has spoken on CNN and the Today Show to explain that she did not feel like a victim, wasn’t threatened, and made no accusations regarding the New York Jets players.
I’ve learned that in life, regardless of cultural differences, you teach people how to respond to you. Your style of dress, choice of words, and body language communicate to others how they should perceive you. In America, professional sports journalists wear business attire. In Mexico, the female body is celebrated in all aspects of media. If Ines Sainz was interested in being taken as a serious sports journalist in America, she should’ve presented herself that way. She didn’t, she’s been here before, she put herself in this situation, but, she’s not complaining….we are.