Dear Readers (Robert in particular),
Our recent post, Is Football More Important Than Rape, syndicated by us from YourTango and written by Charles J. Orlando, ignited one of the most spirited and thoughtful debates EMandLO.com has had in a long time. The first response came from Robert, a long-time reader, now (sniff) no-more:
I come to Em and Lo to read articles that are fair and interesting. I like reading about empowering women, gender equality, and sexual exploration. BUT I will not do it at the expense of my beliefs in due process, racial equality, and just being [a] good human free of hate.
The incendiary piece puts forth Orlando’s opinion that FSU football playerÂ Jameis Winston is guilty of the date rape he’s been accused of (despite a lack of trial or conviction) and thatÂ the police, the FSU Athletic Department, and Winston’s friends are all accomplices by not reporting it, not investigating it properly and essentially covering it up â€” and that these people did this because money, football and winning are more important than the victim.
In all honesty, we were not that familiar with the Winston case when the piece came to us. We skimmed Orlando’s post, thought it was relevant to all the recent revelations of football industry cover-ups, and posted it without much thought and without any intro or commentary from us. Admittedly, not ideal.
We agree with Robert that the open letter format and the tone of the post did not subscribe to the “innocent until proven guilty” presumption our justice system affords every citizen; it was definitely judgmental and condescending. We also agree with Robert that if OrlandoÂ had instead written a calmer, more general piece about what’s wrong with football culture, it would get less attention, generate less discourse. And we just appreciated — perhaps a bit myopically — a man expressing outrage over the larger, very real institution of sexism in our culture which keeps sexual harassment and assault, rape, and domestic abuse against women at epidemic levels despite this being the 21st century. We think it’s important to keep these topics — the football industry’s cover ups of crimes, America’s rape culture, issues of money and power and (in)justice, etc — Â open for discussion and debate. And we trust our smart readers to be able to engage with this kind of piece, even when they don’t agree with it 100% (or at all). Finally, while our justice system is a model for the world, it doesn’t always get things right, and sometimes gets things very wrong, so people are free to form opinions that may not square with judicial outcomes. For all those reasons, we just went with it.
Other thoughtful readers chimed in, including our MVP commenter Johnny (natch):
Robertâ€™s right that everyone should just stay out of this and let the law run its course. Dave is right that the law needs to actually step up and do just that. Which they might have if the accuser had aggressively pursued the issue.
But this is talking about an ideal world, not the real world. In our current situation, the law is not adequately dealing with this and other related cases because of so many issues: sexism, secrecy, shame, power imbalance, advertising dollars, etc. Let’s take another example:Â Should African Americans be profiled by the police? No. Are they? Yes. Should football players get special treatment when it comes to crimes committed? No. Do they? Yes. So people can’t and shouldn’tÂ stay out of these things (even the reactionary loudmouths).
We will say this: we definitely did not decide to run this rant because a black man had sex with a white woman, or because we believed this fueled Orlando’s motivations for penning the piece in the first place. We didn’t even know what color Winston’s skin was until after we had decided to post it and went looking for an image of him. Nor did we know what color the alleged victim was until Robert mentioned it in the comments. What this makes us guilty of, at most, is not being very responsible or professional bloggers. As a feminist site about sex and love, EMandLO.com’s first concerns with this story are sexism, sex crimes, and sex just gone horribly, horribly wrong. Both racism and sexism are alive and well in this country; the focus of this site happens to be on the latter. And as anyone who’s ever read our site Â (Robert?)Â knows, we are big supporters of love in any combination of colors, orientations, and numbers, so long as it’s safe, sane, respectful, and consensual.
We’re sorry we disappointed you, Robert, and we hope you’ll reconsider your decision to break up with us. Not everything we post by someone else — be it a writer or a commenter — perfectly represents our own views and philosophies. We appreciate your detailed response, and are grateful for the conversation it generated and the questions it has raised (even if we don’t have the answers!). Please consider coming back every once and a while and helping to keep things interesting and challenging around here.
Em & Lo
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