ESPN Suspends Britt McHenry For A Week: Was This Slap On The Wrist Sexist? [Opinion]

Britt McHenry suspended over comments

It’s funny that Britt McHenry brags about being on TV in that the ESPN reporter revealed a bit of herself when she thought no one was watching. And what we saw beneath the pretty facade was all too familiar. I’m betting that if you’re a woman, you’ve had a run-in with a Britt McHenry-type: The snide, pretty, mean girl who is overly privileged and smug and takes great pleasure in putting down the “lessers”.

I sincerely hope there isn’t a pig blood-covered girl somewhere in McHenry’s past. But in all seriousness, 28-year-old Britt is about a decade beyond high school. So what gives with the 15-year-old rant?

According to a statement made via Twitter, she “let her emotions get the best of her” and “should have taken the high road” when dealing with the towing lot attendant. Despite her apology to the public, ESPN acted by suspending her for about a week.

What’s interesting about the event and the response is that the outcome is pretty mild for Britt…aside from being bashed by the internet. Professionally speaking, she seems to have come out fine for behavior that probably would have gotten her fired if she were a balding, middle-aged man. I’m perfectly serious. Imagine if Britt McHenry were Brian McHenry, a 48-year-old ESPN reporter who was captured on tape saying the things to the woman parking attendant that we heard in the video, backed up by a laughing male friend.

Cries of sexism and disgust would rain down on ESPN, and no doubt the man would be fired. One only has to look at the men who were fired by ESPN for various forms of inappropriate behavior to strongly consider that Britt’s gender and pretty face may have spared her from the chopping block.

And that’s a problem.

Would anyone really have cried “sexism” if ESPN had dumped her? The fact that the victim of the tirade was also a woman makes it highly unlikely. The slap on the wrist may be a sign that ESPN, a male-dominated network that mainly covers male sports, doesn’t know how to proceed when a doe-eyed young woman is at the center of an ugly controversy.

I cringe at the thought of Britt McHenry’s looks and gender being what kept her from being launched from the network. Even though I imagine that the mean girl antics aren’t a one-time thing for Britt, this possibility almost makes me feel sorry for her. I imagine that, until now, McHenry has congratulated herself on getting ahead in spite of her blonde hair and good looks. Beauty in a male-dominated field can open doors that someone who prides themselves on their ability would be reluctant to walk through.

Now, thanks to the rather weak response to her tacky behavior, she will have that cloud of “they only kept her around because she’s pretty” hanging over her head for the rest of her time at ESPN.

Do you think Britt McHenry would have been fired if she were a man? Do you think she would have been fired if she were a less attractive woman? Share your comments below!

[Image Credit: Britt McHenry’s Twitter/TrendingNow/ARL Now]