Dating, Relationships, & Sex, Pop Culture, Race & Politics, Theory & Essay

The Ho’s Uniform: How Ines Sainz Proves “Victim-Blaming” Isn’t Always a Bad Thing

Tuesday night, I met several friends at William Penn Tavern–a popular Pittsburgh-area sports bar—for their weekly 30 cent wing special. While there, game two of the WNBA Finals happened to showing on the flat screen directly above our table. After making a few perfunctory jokes about the uniforms–Bing is written on Seattle’s jerseys instead of Seattle. No, Seriously. –and the Seattle Storm reserve who bared a slight resemblance to Justin Bieber, the topic shifted to what the WNBA could do to make itself more popular. Although everything from tighter uniforms to a 9 foot rim–so more players could dunk–was suggested¹, we all kept coming back to the same answer: Nothing

Now, this is no indictment on the WNBA. This league contains some of the most skilled and best conditioned athletes (male or female) on the planet, and the playoff games are just as intense and hard-fought as the NBA’s. But, sports culture–the players, the fans, the mythology–is decidedly and intentionally chauvinistic to the point of misogyny¹, and one of the bi products of this dynamic is the fact that, aside from a few exceptions, casual and diehard sports fans (male and female) are just not that into the idea of watching women playing sports.

This brings us to Ines Sainz.

Sainz, a reporter for Mexican television station TV Azteca, was reportedly sexually harrassed by members (players and staff) of the New York Jets last weekend. While the allegations aren’t especially vicious–she was apparently catcalled and whistled at a few times while attempting to interview Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez–I can understand how she might have felt objectified, disrespected, and even scared.

But, from her own words (read the tweets below), she was also dressed like this when at the Jets facility:

For the past few days, I’ve been trying to find a way to craft my thoughts about this situation in the most objective, politically correct and inoffensive way possible. I asked my girlfriend and a few of her friends for their take on this situation. I asked myself how I’d feel if Sainz was my daughter or wife. I even cited her possible cultural naivety–maybe she’s just not aware of how provocative her clothing is.

But, I’m also sure she has at least a peripheral understanding of the dynamics involved with sports culture, and I’m certain she’s aware that of all the major American sports, football is widely considered the most hypermasculine. And, when you enter that culture on their territory with an outfit explicitly suggesting your tits and ass are the only parts of you meant to be taken seriously, it shouldn’t be a big surprise when your tits and ass are the only parts of you taken seriously.

With this in mind, I can’t help but think she just got what she was asking for.

I realize the danger of that statement. Hospitals, court rooms, college dormitories, and graves around the world are filled with rape victims whose perpetrators would have said the exact same thing. For some sexual predators (and enablers), all a woman needs to do to “ask for it” is be born.

But, I think we’ve become so PC on the side of  “a victim is always just a victim” that we’re reluctant to admit that victim-blaming isn’t always a wrong concept. This wasn’t a curvy woman getting harassed while walking to work or even a drunk college girl who was taken advantage of at a frat house. No, she’s a grown and perfectly lucid woman who made the conscious decision to dress in a provocative manner while at one of the most male-dominated, hyper-hetero places of business in the country.

If I get beat up, stabbed, or shot while walking through a known Crip area at night with a Chicago Bulls jersey and two red bandannas around my neck, sure the criminals need to be caught and brought to justice, but that sh*ts on me too. Did I deserve to get assaulted? No. Was my intentionally reckless behavior a major contributor to said assault? Yes. Admitting your personal culpability doesn’t absolve the perpetrators of any blame.

You know, the more I think of Sainz’s situation, the more I think this really had little to do with sex. Or, more specifically, it had little to do with her gender. Type-A, alpha male type of men–the type of men found in spades on NFL rosters and staffs–regularly intimidate, ridicule, mock, taunt, and sexually humiliate other men as a way to assert their status (they wouldn’t be alpha males if they didn’t do this), so it’s no surprise they’d treat an outsider, an outsider with attire suggesting they’re weak, whimsical, and irrelevant, that way. Trust me, they would have been just as quick to tease and taunt an inappropriately dressed man, and they probably would have been even meaner.

Through all of this, I’m not suggesting Sainz’s harassment should be ignored. I’ve shared my feelings about the ills of NFL culture before, and whoever’s responsible for this incident needs to be punished and even suspended. But, there are many other attractive female reporters in NFL locker rooms, women treated with respect and courtesy because they dress and act in a serious manner. And, if Sainz wants to treated professionally, she should probably stop dressing like she belongs to the world’s oldest profession³.

¹There were men and women at this table, btw.
²Sure, most of us would encourage our daughters to join sports teams and be active at a young age, but once you remove that personal connection, the fact reminds that aside from maybe hip-hop, there’s no other major industry that cultivates latent sexism the way sports culture does. The WNBA will always struggle to gain traction with the much coveted 21 to 35 year old diehard single male and 21 to 35 year old casual single female consumer because the things we associate with top athletes—hyper-aggression, cold-bloodedness, feats of physical prowess—are the complete antithesis of what most of us have been socialized to associate with femininity. Also, diehard sports fandom is largely driven by  sexual vicariousness. Basically, while a base part of most diehard male fans wants to be Kevin Garnett and Peyton Manning, a base part of most diehard female sports fans wants to be with them, and I don’t think that same dynamic applies to top female athletes.
³For the record, I know saying she’s dressed like a “ho” is a pretty excessive, but I just thought titling it with the Chappelle line and ending it with the “professional/world’s oldest profession” play on words was cool. #contrivedbutstillcoolwritingdevices

—The Champ

Filed Under:
Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a contributing editor for EBONY.com. He lives in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes. Reach him at damon@verysmartbrothas.com. Or don't.

  • http://testorshia.blogspot.com JustCallMeTes

    I’m reminded of Dave Chappelle…
    “Just because I am dressed this way does not make me a whore….Just because I am dressed this way does not make me a police officer.” It’s all about presentation in my opinion. If she wanted to be taken seriously, she would’ve dressed…well…more serious.
    Most ladies I know only go out in jeans that tight for one of two things.
    1) “I still got it!”
    2) “See girls, I told ya’ll these jeans still fit!”

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

      “Most ladies I know only go out in jeans that tight for one of two things.
      1) “I still got it!”
      2) “See girls, I told ya’ll these jeans still fit!””

      would #3 be “they’re attending a camel toe contest”?

      • http://testorshia.blogspot.com JustCallMeTes

        Because nothing is more appealing than seeing a woman pull out a camel toe repeatedly and winning a prize for it

      • http://testorshia.blogspot.com JustCallMeTes

        Because nothing is more appealing than seeing a woman pull out a camel toe repeatedly and winning a prize for it

      • mssmtaylor

        “would #3 be “they’re attending a camel toe contest”?”

        I just fell on the floor!

      • mssmtaylor

        “would #3 be “they’re attending a camel toe contest”?”

        I just fell on the floor!

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

      “Most ladies I know only go out in jeans that tight for one of two things.
      1) “I still got it!”
      2) “See girls, I told ya’ll these jeans still fit!””

      would #3 be “they’re attending a camel toe contest”?

    • jamesjones

      Cause she is def “wearing a whores uniform…”

    • jamesjones

      Cause she is def “wearing a whores uniform…”

  • http://testorshia.blogspot.com JustCallMeTes

    I’m reminded of Dave Chappelle…
    “Just because I am dressed this way does not make me a whore….Just because I am dressed this way does not make me a police officer.” It’s all about presentation in my opinion. If she wanted to be taken seriously, she would’ve dressed…well…more serious.
    Most ladies I know only go out in jeans that tight for one of two things.
    1) “I still got it!”
    2) “See girls, I told ya’ll these jeans still fit!”

  • VSB Lurker

    Hmmm…I believe this is one of the first times I disagree with The Champ…

    • http://testorshia.blogspot.com JustCallMeTes

      If you don’t mind my asking, what is it you disagree with?

    • http://testorshia.blogspot.com JustCallMeTes

      If you don’t mind my asking, what is it you disagree with?

    • http://thecochranfirm.wordpress.com/2010/08/05/what-are-you-doing-here-last-fm/ Dasher of The Newport Dashers

      Well mami is not a real journalist. According Jamelle Hill, she is a journalist/model who’s past behavior and stories are generally about sexual objectification of herself and the players. Once a switch is flipped where people a person conditions people to not take them seriously, it is difficult to have that switch flipped back into the opposite direction.

      • Omar

        Honestly, Spanish television is notorious for this type of thing most of their shows especially sports (google: republica deportiva) shows feature some sort of scantily dressed women, often showing cleavage, so to a certain extent this is kind of culture clash.

        However with that said it is unintelligent to go into a football team’s locker room dressed like that, it is like walking into a frat house bathroom with guys in there wearing skimpy clothes and expecting no one to try you.

      • Omar

        Honestly, Spanish television is notorious for this type of thing most of their shows especially sports (google: republica deportiva) shows feature some sort of scantily dressed women, often showing cleavage, so to a certain extent this is kind of culture clash.

        However with that said it is unintelligent to go into a football team’s locker room dressed like that, it is like walking into a frat house bathroom with guys in there wearing skimpy clothes and expecting no one to try you.

    • http://thecochranfirm.wordpress.com/2010/08/05/what-are-you-doing-here-last-fm/ Dasher of The Newport Dashers

      Well mami is not a real journalist. According Jamelle Hill, she is a journalist/model who’s past behavior and stories are generally about sexual objectification of herself and the players. Once a switch is flipped where people a person conditions people to not take them seriously, it is difficult to have that switch flipped back into the opposite direction.

    • Sula

      Me too.

      I so totally and fundamentally disagree that I would have to actually write a post to disagree… I’m lazy though.

      • TH

        I disagree, too. I’m tired (so very tired) of everything being blamed on the woman. Why can’t we actually expect men to act like ADULTS and not whoot and holler? Why is it HER fault for wearing those outfits? I’m not saying I agree with her decision to don those clothes (her ass is pretty fabulous, though-no lie) just that it’s so often our society expecting women to know better instead of asking me TO ACT BETTER! They shouldn’t be given a pass on behaving themselves just because they get paid millions of dollars to throw a ball around. C’mon, Champ. We can agree to disagree but I expected you to be a whole helluva lot more open-minded about this.

    • Sula

      Me too.

      I so totally and fundamentally disagree that I would have to actually write a post to disagree… I’m lazy though.

    • Divine

      So, I disagree with Champ too, but here’s why.

      #1 – I think this is simply a big culture clash. I don’t know how many nights I’ve flipped through Telemundo and stopped because the chick doing the news was absolutely beautiful and very scantily clad. And I’m a woman! But Latino cultures embrace their sexuality in all forms of media.

      #2 – Ines was not the one who filed the sexual harrassment claim. She just continued to do her job. It was another woman who overheard the catcalls that filed the claim. My thing is, let me file if it’s offensive to me. Don’t bring me into no big PR campaign about me cause your panties are in a bunch. If you’re offended, you handle it on your terms and don’t drag me into it.

      #3 – She never disparaged the team or the management for this unfortunate incident. She’s proud of her work, proud of her outfit and happy to covering football. She wants to keep doing that. She’s not asking for money. She’s not seeking the publicity. This was all thrust on her. I think she’s doing a great job handling the situation.

      That’s my two cents. Back to lurking…

      • http://tdhurst.com Tyler Hurst

        Not to take this TOO far, but are you alleging that she is Monica Lewinsky to the suit filer’s Linda Tripp?

        If this is true, and no, I’m not accusing Saint of pulling a Lewinsky, but shouldn’t she denounce the suit if she disagrees with it?

        • Divine

          Interesting analogy. I do think it’s a little Monica/Linda Tripp-ish. I think the issue is that she won’t denounce someone else if they felt harassed. She’s simply vocal that she never personally felt harassed.

        • Divine

          Interesting analogy. I do think it’s a little Monica/Linda Tripp-ish. I think the issue is that she won’t denounce someone else if they felt harassed. She’s simply vocal that she never personally felt harassed.

      • http://tdhurst.com Tyler Hurst

        Not to take this TOO far, but are you alleging that she is Monica Lewinsky to the suit filer’s Linda Tripp?

        If this is true, and no, I’m not accusing Saint of pulling a Lewinsky, but shouldn’t she denounce the suit if she disagrees with it?

    • Divine

      So, I disagree with Champ too, but here’s why.

      #1 – I think this is simply a big culture clash. I don’t know how many nights I’ve flipped through Telemundo and stopped because the chick doing the news was absolutely beautiful and very scantily clad. And I’m a woman! But Latino cultures embrace their sexuality in all forms of media.

      #2 – Ines was not the one who filed the sexual harrassment claim. She just continued to do her job. It was another woman who overheard the catcalls that filed the claim. My thing is, let me file if it’s offensive to me. Don’t bring me into no big PR campaign about me cause your panties are in a bunch. If you’re offended, you handle it on your terms and don’t drag me into it.

      #3 – She never disparaged the team or the management for this unfortunate incident. She’s proud of her work, proud of her outfit and happy to covering football. She wants to keep doing that. She’s not asking for money. She’s not seeking the publicity. This was all thrust on her. I think she’s doing a great job handling the situation.

      That’s my two cents. Back to lurking…

  • VSB Lurker

    Hmmm…I believe this is one of the first times I disagree with The Champ…

  • http://twitter.com/eazylittle Eazy

    Very well said sir. I haven’t kept up with the intricate details of the issue, but I wonder what’s her rationale for dressing er…….a bit more provocatively than the typical reporter? What does she expect?

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

      the more i think about it, the more i think it’s a cultural thing. but, if she’s a professional, she should have done her research and learned certain things don’t fly the same way here.

      • Toch_L

        I agree with you champ that its a cultural thing. Have you watched some of the spanish channels news or other programming? Many of the females anchors, commentators (20 to early 30s) all dress like that Ho-ish uniform

        • miss t-lee

          Yeah they’re off the chain on Telemundo and Univision. It’s been like 7 in the morning and I’ve seen newscasters on there wearing tube dresses and 5 inch heels. I’m like “this is the news?” LMAO I chalk this whole case up to cultural differences. Ms.Sainz obviously didn’t see anything with her outfit since that’s the norm for her culture. She’s a brave chick, ain’t no way I woulda worn anything remotely close to that knowing I’d be in a locker room full of dudes.

          • MImi

            If I was in Ms. Sainz shoes, I would’ve worn a burka, a pair of Ugg Boots and a hockey mask would’ve been covering my face.

            • V Renee

              The image is cracking me up. I would have never thought to put a burka with Uggs. LOL

              • Mimi

                And I wouldn’t even shake their hands either.
                With some of these athletes, I think a woman can get pregnant through a simple handshake.
                You can go into a football locker room to interview a few players, but end up leaving an hour later, in your second trimester.

              • Mimi

                And I wouldn’t even shake their hands either.
                With some of these athletes, I think a woman can get pregnant through a simple handshake.
                You can go into a football locker room to interview a few players, but end up leaving an hour later, in your second trimester.

              • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

                The image is cracking me up. I would have never thought to put a burka with Uggs. LOL

                i’ve seen a burka and patent leather jordans before, so anything is possible

              • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

                The image is cracking me up. I would have never thought to put a burka with Uggs. LOL

                i’ve seen a burka and patent leather jordans before, so anything is possible

            • V Renee

              The image is cracking me up. I would have never thought to put a burka with Uggs. LOL

          • MImi

            If I was in Ms. Sainz shoes, I would’ve worn a burka, a pair of Ugg Boots and a hockey mask would’ve been covering my face.

          • http://www.twitter.com/sweetchicgeek Sweet Chic Geek

            This right here.

            Every situation deserves to be looked through thoroughly, but blame puts the onus entirely on the person in question – which in the case of a victim isn’t right.

            It doesn’t sound like Sainz feels she’s a victim, which I suppose is the most important thing – but the general response is very disheartening.

          • http://www.twitter.com/sweetchicgeek Sweet Chic Geek

            This right here.

            Every situation deserves to be looked through thoroughly, but blame puts the onus entirely on the person in question – which in the case of a victim isn’t right.

            It doesn’t sound like Sainz feels she’s a victim, which I suppose is the most important thing – but the general response is very disheartening.

        • miss t-lee

          Yeah they’re off the chain on Telemundo and Univision. It’s been like 7 in the morning and I’ve seen newscasters on there wearing tube dresses and 5 inch heels. I’m like “this is the news?” LMAO I chalk this whole case up to cultural differences. Ms.Sainz obviously didn’t see anything with her outfit since that’s the norm for her culture. She’s a brave chick, ain’t no way I woulda worn anything remotely close to that knowing I’d be in a locker room full of dudes.

      • Toch_L

        I agree with you champ that its a cultural thing. Have you watched some of the spanish channels news or other programming? Many of the females anchors, commentators (20 to early 30s) all dress like that Ho-ish uniform

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

      the more i think about it, the more i think it’s a cultural thing. but, if she’s a professional, she should have done her research and learned certain things don’t fly the same way here.

    • whykendra

      i think everyone is missing the point. by suggesting that the way she dressed provoked…whatever. its promoting the whole “boys will be boys thing”. if thats her body then she shouldnt have to wear a potato sack just so the excitable 13 year old boys (i mean grown men…i mean…whatever, same thing) aren’t overwhelmed. certain things are unprofessional (like those tight ass jeans) but that changes nothing for me, she should deserves the same amount of respect as a woman in a snow suit. i dress conservatively because im afraid of getting the wrong kind of attention. but my fear isnt justifying another woman being harrassed if she does. my fear and this situation as a whole is just one of many examples of how women are constantly constricted by ridiculous ideologies, and then criticized after the fact for ‘reckless behavior’.

    • whykendra

      i think everyone is missing the point. by suggesting that the way she dressed provoked…whatever. its promoting the whole “boys will be boys thing”. if thats her body then she shouldnt have to wear a potato sack just so the excitable 13 year old boys (i mean grown men…i mean…whatever, same thing) aren’t overwhelmed. certain things are unprofessional (like those tight ass jeans) but that changes nothing for me, she should deserves the same amount of respect as a woman in a snow suit. i dress conservatively because im afraid of getting the wrong kind of attention. but my fear isnt justifying another woman being harrassed if she does. my fear and this situation as a whole is just one of many examples of how women are constantly constricted by ridiculous ideologies, and then criticized after the fact for ‘reckless behavior’.

  • http://twitter.com/eazylittle Eazy

    Very well said sir. I haven’t kept up with the intricate details of the issue, but I wonder what’s her rationale for dressing er…….a bit more provocatively than the typical reporter? What does she expect?

  • Malia

    When I first, first, saw this story, and saw the photo without the headline, I thought she was a cheerleader. Not a journalist.

    • YAYER

      me too, lol!

      :)

    • YAYER

      me too, lol!

      :)

  • Malia

    When I first, first, saw this story, and saw the photo without the headline, I thought she was a cheerleader. Not a journalist.

  • Charisse

    I’ve never commented before have always read. I do want to say, Champ, I’m not sure if you saw this morning or if it aired in your area. However, Inez was on the Channel 5 Morning News for New York and she indicated that she knew that her clothes were provocative and that she can not help it that she is sexy and she is not going to make herself ugly to get her work done. Also, that the players should just do their jobs as she is doing her regardless if she is sexy. In the end, I agree with you, she kind of asked for it period! And the ridicule of Clinton Portis is stupid. She walked into a locker room of naked men, knowing she was “sexy” so ….

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

      i haven’t heard her voice yet. my knowledge of this situation has been all through internet articles. but, if that’s what she said, i think she’s missing the difference between dressing “ugly” and dressing appropriately. you can still be sexy with a pants suit that doesnt look to be painted on

      • Yeah…So

        “she knew that her clothes were provocative and that she can not help it that she is sexy and she is not going to make herself ugly to get her work done.”

        “she’s missing the difference between dressing “ugly” and dressing appropriately. you can still be sexy with a pants suit that doesnt look to be painted on”

        Clearly her priorities are in the wrong place as well. When I get ready for work I’m not thinking “well, I’m sexy (and BOY am I ever) so I’m NOT gonna hide it”… No, I’m thinking “well, sh!t I got about 4 meetings today so that means I’m gon’ be running all over… flats it is!”

      • Yeah…So

        “she knew that her clothes were provocative and that she can not help it that she is sexy and she is not going to make herself ugly to get her work done.”

        “she’s missing the difference between dressing “ugly” and dressing appropriately. you can still be sexy with a pants suit that doesnt look to be painted on”

        Clearly her priorities are in the wrong place as well. When I get ready for work I’m not thinking “well, I’m sexy (and BOY am I ever) so I’m NOT gonna hide it”… No, I’m thinking “well, sh!t I got about 4 meetings today so that means I’m gon’ be running all over… flats it is!”

    • http://verysmartbrothas.com The Champ

      i haven’t heard her voice yet. my knowledge of this situation has been all through internet articles. but, if that’s what she said, i think she’s missing the difference between dressing “ugly” and dressing appropriately. you can still be sexy with a pants suit that doesnt look to be painted on

    • Mimi

      “…Inez was on the Channel 5 Morning News for New York and she indicated that she knew that her clothes were provocative and that she can not help it that she is sexy and she is not going to make herself ugly to get her work done…”

      This is the kind of stuff that I cannot stand about SOME (not all) women.
      Besides, I refuse to believe that she was sexually harrassment, unless she has some concrete evidence. If she said that catcalls were the only thing that she experienced, then I don’t think it was horrific. I have been sexually harrassed before (in the past and I’m sure there are plenty VSS who experience it as well) and if I had to pick the lesser of two evils (catcalling or the groping), I settle for the ‘hey ma, you got a phat a$$’.

      • Dom

        If she said that catcalls were the only thing that she experienced, then I don’t think it was horrific.

        Exactly. Like, what do you expect when you’re walking in to a locker room full of men, all hyped up from ramming into eachother at top speeds for three hours? Take the catcalls and whistles and move your a__ out the way.

        • Mimi

          Which is why I believe she (or her managers) is more offended that these Americans (both black and white) are speaking about her in such fashion.

        • Mimi

          Which is why I believe she (or her managers) is more offended that these Americans (both black and white) are speaking about her in such fashion.

      • Dom

        If she said that catcalls were the only thing that she experienced, then I don’t think it was horrific.

        Exactly. Like, what do you expect when you’re walking in to a locker room full of men, all hyped up from ramming into eachother at top speeds for three hours? Take the catcalls and whistles and move your a__ out the way.

    • Mimi

      “…Inez was on the Channel 5 Morning News for New York and she indicated that she knew that her clothes were provocative and that she can not help it that she is sexy and she is not going to make herself ugly to get her work done…”

      This is the kind of stuff that I cannot stand about SOME (not all) women.
      Besides, I refuse to believe that she was sexually harrassment, unless she has some concrete evidence. If she said that catcalls were the only thing that she experienced, then I don’t think it was horrific. I have been sexually harrassed before (in the past and I’m sure there are plenty VSS who experience it as well) and if I had to pick the lesser of two evils (catcalling or the groping), I settle for the ‘hey ma, you got a phat a$$’.

  • Charisse

    I’ve never commented before have always read. I do want to say, Champ, I’m not sure if you saw this morning or if it aired in your area. However, Inez was on the Channel 5 Morning News for New York and she indicated that she knew that her clothes were provocative and that she can not help it that she is sexy and she is not going to make herself ugly to get her work done. Also, that the players should just do their jobs as she is doing her regardless if she is sexy. In the end, I agree with you, she kind of asked for it period! And the ridicule of Clinton Portis is stupid. She walked into a locker room of naked men, knowing she was “sexy” so ….

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