At first, I was laughing. I thought it was actually funny.
Looking at the backsides and various body parts of the Cincinnati Bengals was cause to snicker. It was a quick getaway from the rigors of everyday life and the mental stress of always trying to be socially correct. But then I became angry, as I saw the video being posted on hundreds of social media walls. Women were laughing and making rude comments. Some made the obligatory catcalls in print. That’s when I realized why I was angry. I suddenly understood how women must feel when they’re viewed as objects.
If you haven’t seen the NFL Network video of Adam Jones being interviewed, just give it some time, it’ll find you. But I’ll gladly explain the setup. The Bengals had just beaten the Buffalo Bills and were in their locker room changing. Jones was grabbed for an interview. Before the cameraman had an opportunity to change his filming angle, the dangles of a few Bengals players had face time with sports fans.
Women are looked upon as sexual objects on a daily basis. As a guy who doesn’t have to endure the mental abuse, it goes over my head. Men see women and either think, whisper, or say things that aren’t all that appealing. Yes. Women are just so dang gorgeous and deserve to be told they are. But it can be done without harassment and intimidation.
I have read the things that women said about the Bengals players. Most of the comments were on the raunchy side. The internet buzzed with creative and stupid jokes. There is even one wife who is livid. As you can imagine, my blood boiled. But why? Women endure the same shaming without being in a locker room setting. Just walking down the street, or being at work, can be a nightmare for a woman.
Please don’t think I’m against the feelings of Whitworth and his teammates. But sometimes we have to experience the pain of women before we can understand the real problem.
Catcalls are not compliments. When was the last time you heard a woman say she loved being treated like a piece of meat? The treatment that the Bengals video received was par for the course. The roles were reversed, and suddenly women had the upper hand. How did it feel? I didn’t like it one bit. As found on the NOW website, women are taught at an early age to just take the abusive words thrown at them. When women are exposed to catcalls and say something back, they’re treated like an oddity or the “B” word.
I’ll admit, when I first saw the video, I was upset and thought more about the unaware Bengals players being filmed. But women have that and more happen on a daily basis. Cameras and cell phones on selfie sticks are used to capture explicit pictures that most women never know about until it’s too late. I had to change my thinking. I was forced to identify with the way women feel.
According to statistics found at Hollaback, a Cornell University study shows that 84 percent of women surveyed experienced some type of harassment before the age of 17. So when I look at the Bengals video, in the light of women’s experiences, I don’t think one incident will cause a sports Armageddon.
Some dignity got exposed for a rare moment. It wasn’t done intentionally. But thanks to that video, I can understand how women must feel.
[Featured Photo by Joe Robbins / Getty Images]