Boys Gone Wild at Giants Staidum, Gate D
The Huffington Post, November 21, 2007
There's an alternative halftime show at Jets home games, reports The New York Times. Fans congregate at Giants Stadium's pedestrian ramps at Gate D. There they proceed to chant and demand that any woman walking by expose her breasts. When a woman decides she'd prefer to remain with her shirt actually on her body, fans boo, spit, and hurl plastic beer bottles. When she obliges and lifts her shirt and bra, fans take video clips on their phones, which end up online.
Security guards make no attempt to intervene by protecting the women or arresting the men for harassment. But when one 23-year-old Bronx resident flashed the crowd on Sunday, two security guards approached her and warned her about indecent exposure laws. And when a reporter tried to interview two guards (it's not clear if they were the same or different guards) about the routine, ritualized harassment, he was detained in a holding room, threatened with arrest, and asked for his tape recorder.
I hate to sound like a broken record, but the sexual double standard is alive and well. Boys will be boys, and girls will be sluts. And across the land, people continue to believe that this is the way it's supposed to be.
I'm not a prude, and I don't sniff out harassment in every sexual act. When a woman consents to expose herself, I disapprove but I'm not alarmed. But at Gate D, is the exhibitionism truly consensual? And even if it is, I can't help but wonder what motivates women to allow themselves to be so degraded.
Undoubtedly, many of those who bare their breasts feel they have no choice, since the menacing, drunk, verbally violent crowd could turn physically violent in a heartbeat. These women could be groped or worse, so what choice do they really have? And in this age of Lindsay, Britney, and Girls Gone Wild, many feel they have no choice for other reasons too. Very many girls and women of all ages believe that their value primarily comes from their sexual appeal or behavior. They have come to consider sexual objectification--being made into a thing for others' sexual use, rather than being seen as a person with the capacity for independent action and decision making, according to the American Psychological Association--as completely normal. So it doesn't surprise me that the Bronx resident who flashed her breasts on Sunday--while on a first date, no less--justified her behavior to the Times: "I love my body and I like what I have, so let everybody share it."
But she didn't come to the game, on a first date, intending to provide cheap thrills to masses of harassing men. The crowd at Gate D pointed at her and chanted in her direction. Those men cheapened her sexuality. This, my friends, passes as normal and acceptable, in New Jersey and elsewhere. Too many women are taking off their shirts not because they are sluts, and not because they are raunchy, and not because they are stupid, and not because they are proud of their bodies. They are taking off their shirts because all around them, they see that this is what women are supposed to do.
Yet when men and women follow this script, the women get pulled aside for a lecture about indecent exposure laws and the men remain oblivious that they are guilty of sexual harassment. Which means the men will harass again and again.
Copyright © 2008 by Leora Tanenbaum. All rights reserved. If you want to reprint this essay, email your request to firstname.lastname@example.org.