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Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Football, Women, and “Cat Calls”

My girlfriend went to a Kansas City Chiefs football game a few weeks ago. She loves going to the games and seeing all the people dressed in Chief’s red, experiencing the love and passion this town has for its football team.

On this particular day, she decided to bring her kids. She has three - two boys (14 and 12) and a girl (9). She has recently divorced and was longing to partake in some more “family bonding time”. She looked forward to showing her kids how much fun a game could be at Arrowhead Stadium, with all the tailgating and camaraderie.

Now, I’ll preface this with – my girlfriend is very attractive. She’s outwardly a person most would notice. Secondly, like most women, my girlfriend believes that women need to be very “careful” about the clothing one chooses to wear in certain situations. She holds onto the popular and much believed myth that if a woman wears certain things – she is communicating a desire to be approached or looked at…gawked at even. So on this day, she purposely wore a turtle neck top and jeans. She dressed conservative for a reason. She went to the game with a girl-friend of hers and her son. This other gal is also an outwardly attractive gal.

The day was supposed to be fun. It was a day she invested in her kids – bought tickets from a friend, paid for parking, food, drinks, etc. And if you go to games, you know this is not a small investment for most. The cost was over $300 for sure on this particular day. For her – it was worth every penny to have some bonding time with her kids and watch her beloved Chiefs.

After they parked their car, the six of them made their way to the stadium through the various Chief’s tailgaters. Both gals, even as they walked hand-in-hand with their young children became aware that with each passing tailgate, they were being gawked at. Starred at in a way that was evident they were being looked at for their various parts more than anything else. As they got closer to Arrowhead, a few different men decided to make comments. “You are a MILF!” one person shouted. “Man – look at those….very nice!” another man would comment as they passed his tailgate, “…show ‘em!” another person shouted at them from a distance.

My girlfriend’s mood changed. Her kids looked at her as if she had done something wrong. She kept walking….up to the Arrowhead entrance. Once in, the various comments got even more forward. Men who would pass by and look directly at their breasts saying things like “wow”, “what are you doing after the game”, “I could get lost in those!” My girlfriend was walking with her head down now, trying not to make eye-contact with anyone who passed by. As they all arrived at their seats, there was a fairly large contingent of men sitting directly in front of them who all immediately took notice and decided it was okay to chime in as well. They looked back and starred – saying in full volume “what a MILF!” “THOSE are tremendous”, “nice cans!” Thorough the game, one or more of them would turn around and stare at my girlfriend and her friend. Looking at each of them up and down – as if they were on display.The comments got more forward and crude as the game ensued …and the more alcohol was consumed.

The kid’s eyes told my girlfriend all she needed to know. The day was ruined. It was going to be a day off one verbal sexual comment (assault) after the next. A day where her kids looked at her, fully knowing what the term “MILF” meant and wonder…why did she bring them to the game? My girlfriend felt awful – she felt like she should have known better – taking the blame for thinking a Chiefs game would be a good “family event”. She grabbed her 9-year old daughter and put her on her lap, to try and further hide her breasts from any onlookers. It wasn’t fun, the day was a disaster. More comments would come and even a few propositions – even as her children flanked both her sides.

The term MILF comes from the movie “American Pie” and if you’re not familiar with it - it means MOM I’D LIKE to F***. The term seems to have made its way into an acceptable slang term – replacing terms like “Fox”, etc.

Guys – when exactly did this behavior become okay? Why is it that attending pro football games is now a pass for saying whatever you want and treating pretty women with super-sized masculine and abusive acts? How would you feel if someone walked directly up to your Mom and said they’d like to fuck her? What if someone did that to your daughter? Your Sister, Cousin, Grandmother, Girlfriend, Wife? How would that make you feel? When did it become okay to stare women’s breasts and then make comments about them for all to hear? When did “show your ....” become an acceptable chant? Why is it funny to say such ludicrous things even if it’s in jest? Why would you let your buddy do this even if you don’t engage in this kind of over-zealous masculine chest-thumping yourself? Why is this behavior becoming standardized for pro football venues? And if you think I’m over-reacting, consider this article…"Halftime Ritual" from the New York Times.

It’s time for good guys to take a true stand and make this kind of behavior “not cool”. Drunk or not, people need to understand how damaging this kind of behavior is. We also need to wake up and see how prevalent this kind of activity is – this is just one example, I have heard hundreds more and it makes me sick. Is it too much to ask that we don’t start taking the kinds of things we see on television and start normalizing them into our society? Is it too much to ask that an attractive gal could go to a Chiefs game and not be assaulted with one crude comment after the next – WITH HER KIDS NO LESS?!

Come on guys – wake the f*** up!

Matt Sharples


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the post Matt. I saw a smart response to the Jets experience from Michael Kimmel at,0,7840147.story

sarah said...

I've been fuming since I read the article about the Jets game in the New York Times a couple of weeks ago. And then, upon forwarding Michael Kimmel's response above, I was pointed on to your post here by a colleague.

Reading about what your girlfriend, her friend, and children were subjected to at Arrowhead really brings these issues home. This disgusting behavior isn't "organized" around a single gate, instead it not only permeates the parking lots, but sections of the stands as well.

The fact that these events culture a protective "zone" for this kind of foul, degrading harrassment and assault against women strongly informs my repeated decisions to turn down opportunities to attend such sporting events. Similar to what Nicole described in a recent post, this unacceptable "group think" mentality is not only dehumanizing...but can be very intimidating and scary as well. I cannot even imagine having to experiencing something like this with children in tow. How would you even talk to them about this??

Thank you so much for sharing.