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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Female reporters feel singled out by dress code

Before the 2012 season, Major League Baseball instituted a dress code for reporters covering the teams. The code was approved by a panel that included women and was meant to be gender-neutral, but the requirements have led some women in the field to feel self-conscious about how they present themselves and wary of speaking up about it lest they lose the access to do their jobs as reporters.

MLB’s dress code, in its majesty, forbids Susan Slusser and Jay Mariotti alike from wearing short skirts, tank tops, and strappy sandals.

Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: October 17, 2012 at 11:21 AM | 47 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: business, fashion, general, media

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   1. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: October 17, 2012 at 01:21 PM (#4274131)
There are probably some legitimate complaints that exist but I think the article does a really horrible job of making the point. There were few specifics and none of them had me feeling that any group was being unfairly punished by the dress code. If you want to argue that no dress code at all is appropriate that's fine, but that's a different argument.
   2. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 17, 2012 at 01:23 PM (#4274136)
I'm sorry, but what is this, high school? Why the H is there a dress code? What happens if you show up in a short skirt, they won't let you in? Is there a nun standing outside clubhouses with a ruler to make sure the hem is past the knee?
   3. McCoy Posted: October 17, 2012 at 01:29 PM (#4274146)
I think it is pretty reasonable to implement a dress code for a bunch of professionals who are guests in your workplace. Nowadays with bloggers and basement dwellers getting press passes and access I think it is a good idea that all with access know exactly what they can and cannot do within MLB's work areas.
   4. McCoy Posted: October 17, 2012 at 01:33 PM (#4274160)
Look at it from one woman's point of view. She saw a player drop his towel right in front of her like an aggressive dare, but didn't want to report it to MLB. Like a lot of young women, she feared that reporting the incident would make her a pariah in the locker room and destroy her ability to do a job she loves.

Instead, the league instituted a policy to hold her responsible for wearing a skirt that doesn't go down to her knee, but does not address the problem of inappropriate player behavior.



Hey, I've got an idea. How about reporters aren't allowed in the locker room? Kind of funny how the response to a ballplayer dropping his towel in front of her leads to a paragraph that starts with the word "instead" as if instead of dealing with this ballplayer MLB decided to have the woman not wear a short skirt.

As for women not being able to wear short skirts and skimpy clothing in hot weather while doing their jobs I say tough. Welcome to the world of men who have had to wear oppressively stuffy clothing while working since the dawn of the industrial age.
   5. JJ1986 Posted: October 17, 2012 at 01:34 PM (#4274163)
They probably need some dress code, but I'm not sure why they would need to ban sleeveless dresses.
   6. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: October 17, 2012 at 01:35 PM (#4274167)

As for women not being able to wear short skirts and skimpy clothing in hot weather while doing their jobs I say tough. Welcome to the world of men who have had to wear oppressively stuffy clothing while working since the dawn of the industrial age.


Oh, please, women are held up to much higher standards. You may have to wear a suit and tie, I don't know, but you don't have to spend an hour on hair and makeup every morning or be considered a lesbian.
   7. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: October 17, 2012 at 02:02 PM (#4274220)
How about reporters aren't allowed in the locker room?

I still have no idea why they are allowed in the locker room. Nobody is allowed into Romney's or Obama's locker room to get a quote fresh from the heat of the battle. Why is it so crucial that players be interviewed in the locker room instead of the press room?
   8. Booey Posted: October 17, 2012 at 02:25 PM (#4274249)
Look at it from one woman's point of view. She saw a player drop his towel right in front of her like an aggressive dare, but didn't want to report it to MLB. Like a lot of young women, she feared that reporting the incident would make her a pariah in the locker room and destroy her ability to do a job she loves.


This is crap. It's like that female reporter years ago who tried to sue Charles Barkley for indecent exposure cuz he got undressed in plain view of her when she was interviewing players in the locker room. A naked man in a men's locker room? Imagine that! Such scandal!

Oh, please, women are held up to much higher standards. You may have to wear a suit and tie, I don't know, but you don't have to spend an hour on hair and makeup every morning or be considered a lesbian.


Nah. I'm with McCoy on this one. Even if stricter dress codes are implemented, women have a lot more options they can pick from than men do when it comes to dressing in what's considered business professional attire. Not letting them wear short skirts in the summer isn't any more unfair than not letting men wear short pants.
   9. JRVJ Posted: October 17, 2012 at 02:34 PM (#4274260)
Frankly, I don't buy this argument. Look, let's be clear on something: male athletes are usually young and over testosteroned.

At some point it was decided that reporters could go into locker rooms, which probably wasn't too much of a problem prior to Women's Lib (though I suppose it COULD HAVE been a problem if an overtly effeminate man had been working as a reporter in an MLB locker room, but I don't think that ever happened). But once women obtained their long due right to equality, it's just sane to avoid complications in a locker room were male athletes (who are often over sexed, pampered douches) have to undress, shower and dress.

By the by, I was listening to a podcast between Jay Mohr and Joe McDonnell recently, and it was pointed out (quite correctly, IMO), that male reporters are not allowed in the locker room of female athletes (for the life of me, I don't see how that could go well).
   10. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: October 17, 2012 at 02:37 PM (#4274263)
I still have no idea why they are allowed in the locker room. Nobody is allowed into Romney's or Obama's locker room to get a quote fresh from the heat of the battle. Why is it so crucial that players be interviewed in the locker room instead of the press room?


I think it's a least objectionable alternative situation. The reporters want to talk to the players and the leagues want the players to talk to the press. The alternative is to require players to attend a postgame press conference or press area and I don't think anyone really wants to do that. I think the players are perfectly content to just get it over with and the reporters, especially newspaper reporters on a deadline, are grateful for the immediacy.

The argument that the quotes are useless is true but the leagues want the publicity so they aren't going to create a situation where the press doesn't at least get their bite at the apple.
   11. Don Geovany Soto (chris h.) Posted: October 17, 2012 at 02:55 PM (#4274281)
I'm actually with McCoy on this one as well. Business casual is not an oppressive dress code. Christ, I remember when business casual was almost unheard of, except perhaps on "Casual Friday." When I was allowed to wear khakis and polo shirts instead of suits, I almost jumped for joy.

No, I haven't had to work in a hot locker room. I have, however, had to walk a mile and a half to and from the train station to the office, in a suit and tie, carrying a 9-pound laptop plus accessories. By the time I got to the office, I was wilting and wondering why the #### I even bothered getting my shirts pressed. I'm sure many here have suffered through similar annoyances.

Reading TFA, it seems the story is more about how the male reporters don't give a #### about the dress code and MLB doesn't really enforce the thing. Or something; it's a poorly-organized story.
   12. BDC Posted: October 17, 2012 at 02:57 PM (#4274289)
I worked briefly (as I never tire of saying here :) as a credentialed baseball columnist, 1998-2001. Unless things are greatly different in newer clubhouses, the "locker" room sort of is and isn't. Reporters in my experience don't go into shower rooms, and many, many of the team actually get dressed in spaces that are behind the scenes. The "locker room" is a semi-public space, where players take all kinds of people, male and female, many of them total strangers, walking around, as a matter of course. A few of the less inhibited guys, or those who are simply out of ####s to give, do walk around partly or wholly naked in the clubhouse. Many would never do so, and are never seen undressed. Nobody cares about the nudity. I mean, nobody whatsoever. The women who go into clubhouses are not exactly Teresa Wright in Pride of the Yankees; they are professionals.

As to the dress code, I remember the very standard sportswriter outfit as being plain slacks and golf shirt. (This too was in Texas, where it very rarely got cold enough for a jacket or sweater.) Announcers would wear that, writers would wear that, team staff would wear that. I wore that. Women would wear a simple dress, or slacks and a simple top, sometimes indeed a golf shirt. There must have been beat writers in dressy shorts, but I don't have a strong image of them. If you weren't an absolute regular, the best course was concealment (in the "blend-in" sense). I don't really know the beef here (and as noted, TFA is pretty vague.) From what I've seen of baseball media of both genders, overdressing is not a huge problem.

Edit: and re #11, the workspaces are generally not hot, at least in Texas, where AC is ubiquitous. The clubhouses themselves are climate-controlled. So is the pressbox, so is the elevator between them. It can get hot on the field for pre-game media, or the TV people who walk around mid-game being part of the action. But hell, if you don't want to be filmed in a hot environment, you usually don't become a broadcast professional in the first place :)
   13. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: October 17, 2012 at 03:01 PM (#4274295)
I worked briefly


The 1 percent heard from.
   14. Pat Rapper's Delight Posted: October 17, 2012 at 03:04 PM (#4274302)
If you want to argue that no dress code at all is appropriate

Zeke Mowatt approves this message.
   15. McCoy Posted: October 17, 2012 at 03:14 PM (#4274320)
Oh, please, women are held up to much higher standards. You may have to wear a suit and tie, I don't know, but you don't have to spend an hour on hair and makeup every morning or be considered a lesbian.

IBM makes women do that?
   16. Ron J2 Posted: October 17, 2012 at 03:19 PM (#4274336)
#15 IBM is clearly slacking off. I'm working for IBM (sub-contractor) and I'm wearing "business casual".
   17. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: October 17, 2012 at 03:27 PM (#4274351)

Zeke Mowatt approves this message.


You beat me to it!
   18. OsunaSakata Posted: October 17, 2012 at 03:31 PM (#4274357)
Nobody is allowed into Romney's or Obama's locker room to get a quote fresh from the heat of the battle.


This sounds like an SNL sketch waiting to happen. Or maybe Carol Burnett.
   19. Commissioner Bud Black Beltre Hillman Posted: October 17, 2012 at 03:37 PM (#4274362)
Huh. Every place I've had to abide by a dress code, women have complained because theirs is too vague, not too restrictive. For men it's just "wear this", whereas for women it becomes a series of "don't wear this, don't wear that"--after an extended discussion at one office, an HR rep boiled it down to "just don't look slutty, OK?"
   20. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: October 17, 2012 at 03:38 PM (#4274367)
I still have no idea why they are allowed in the locker room.

Because it is, and has always been, good for business.
   21. jack the seal clubber (on the sidelines of life) Posted: October 17, 2012 at 03:38 PM (#4274368)
In my position, we have to visit our agency plant often. Normally (not always) the protocol is that men wear suits and ties.
Probably about 70% of the women who I travel with make these visits in the female version of business casual; meaning, khaki or similar pants, and a nondescript top or shirt.

There are women who look professional in these visits, of course, but mostly I agree with McCoy. We have to go the full route in terms of attire. Women don't.

Not calling this the injustice of the age, or anything, but that is the way it works.
   22. SoSH U at work Posted: October 17, 2012 at 03:49 PM (#4274384)
By the by, I was listening to a podcast between Jay Mohr and Joe McDonnell recently, and it was pointed out (quite correctly, IMO), that male reporters are not allowed in the locker room of female athletes (for the life of me, I don't see how that could go well).


I can't imagine it's just men who are prohibited, but all reporters. I suspect that women's leagues or sports taems decided at the beginning that the lockerroom was off limits (in part because so many of the reporters covering the sport were men, unlike the male sports dynamics). Men's leagues/teams could choose to do the same, banning reporters of both sexes, but don't out of tradition.

   23. McCoy Posted: October 17, 2012 at 04:00 PM (#4274399)
I got into a rather stupid fight with my school over the dresscode. Our dresscode required men to tuck their shirts in at all times while women did not so we would have the absurd sight of an employee stopping and disciplining a man because his polo was untucked while ignoring the woman standing beside him who was wearing an untucked polo as well. I tried to argue it was a Title IX issue but they just ignored me.
   24. Bob Tufts Posted: October 17, 2012 at 04:01 PM (#4274401)
When the media outlets hire female reporters for the content of their brains and not their helmet-headed bottle-induced bleach blondeness or content of their sweaters, I will give a crap about this.

We've gone drastically downhill since the halcyon days of Lesley Visser.
   25. SteveM. Posted: October 17, 2012 at 04:12 PM (#4274419)
This thread makes me glad to be in academia, where most days I wear jeans and cowboy boots to work. Of course I am in the humanities.
   26. The Ghost's Tryin' to Reason with Hurricane Season Posted: October 17, 2012 at 04:18 PM (#4274428)
Interesting that this was on the ESPNW page. It isn't about a women's sport. Just sayin'.
   27. JRVJ Posted: October 17, 2012 at 04:21 PM (#4274434)
22, well, the podcast then took some bizarre directions about Lesbian athletes and (I think) the WNBA, but I was jogging at the time so I wasn't writing down what they were saying.
   28. cardsfanboy Posted: October 17, 2012 at 04:24 PM (#4274444)
(though I suppose it COULD HAVE been a problem if an overtly effeminate man had been working as a reporter in an MLB locker room, but I don't think that ever happened).


Didn't watch WKRP in Cincinatti, do you? :)
   29. The Chronicles of Reddick Posted: October 17, 2012 at 04:25 PM (#4274449)
By the by, I was listening to a podcast between Jay Mohr and Joe McDonnell recently, and it was pointed out (quite correctly, IMO), that male reporters are not allowed in the locker room of female athletes (for the life of me, I don't see how that could go well).


I'm Charles Haley and I approve of this message.
   30. veer bender Posted: October 17, 2012 at 04:29 PM (#4274456)
Normally (not always) the protocol is that men wear suits and ties.
Probably about 70% of the women who I travel with make these visits in the female version of business casual; meaning, khaki or similar pants, and a nondescript top or shirt.

There are women who look professional in these visits, of course, but mostly I agree with McCoy. We have to go the full route in terms of attire. Women don't.


I don't doubt that this double standard exists, but I can offer one reasonable explanation for it: looking "professional" for women* has been heavily sexualized, recently** in a porn-ish kind of way. Any attractive woman dressed to the height of old-school business attire is reasonable in thinking some men in their workplace are viewing them as some sort of sexy stereotype, and may not feel like being part of that.

As #19 put it "just don't look slutty, OK?" may be the functional rule, but following that is a lot easier if you just go casual. Given that's there's a lot of overlap between looking "good" and looking "sexy", and people's judgments of the dividing line vary, it does seem like a lot to navigate and a generally unnecessary hassle.

* Yes, "sharp-dressed man" is an archetypal sex symbol too, but the potential for fear/harassment is obviously very different.

** I mean recently only in terms of decades, but even there I'm not sure. Maybe it's nothing new at all.
   31. cardsfanboy Posted: October 17, 2012 at 04:30 PM (#4274457)
Looking at that list of inappropriate dress, and I I can't see what the problem is.

It's all standard dress code requirements, and they make sense. There is nothing inherently sexist in the code. It would be 'sexist' if it banned skirts, dresses etc, but everything on the list is a concession to women in the workplace while trying to remind everyone, to treat it as a workplace.

Short skirts/dresses? How can anyone argue for this. As a guy, I like women wearing short skirts, but in a work environment, it's totally inappropriate. Flip flops? this isn't the beach. Tank Tops? Again, how does that work in a professional environment? One shoulder/strapless shirts....look at it on men, wouldn't that look absolutely ridiculous and trashy?

   32. ASmitty Posted: October 17, 2012 at 04:35 PM (#4274464)
My office is business attire Moday-Thursday, and casual on Friday. On Fridays, all of the men wear jeans and polo shirts, and all of the women come in in their damned pajamas. HR finally sent out an e-mail last week.
   33. The Chronicles of Reddick Posted: October 17, 2012 at 04:38 PM (#4274471)
I thought that for most companies Friday was Hawaiian Shirt day
   34. veer bender Posted: October 17, 2012 at 04:38 PM (#4274473)
I should add that (1) as a man who is always too hot in any given indoor space I find the dress code for men suitable for enhanced interrogation, and (2) that women with the dress, hair, and make-up appropriate for Fox News anchors are a freaking awesome addition to the workplace.
   35. morineko Posted: October 17, 2012 at 04:39 PM (#4274476)
I think this dress code thing is partially a case of print vs television media again. #12 mentions typical sportswriter wear, which doesn't differ much between genders. The article mentions one female sportswriter in favor of the business casual dress code and then TV reporters who aren't in favor of it.
   36. McCoy Posted: October 17, 2012 at 04:46 PM (#4274493)
When the media outlets hire female reporters for the content of their brains and not their helmet-headed bottle-induced bleach blondeness or content of their sweaters, I will give a crap about this.

We've gone drastically downhill since the halcyon days of Lesley Visser.


Have you seen what Candy Crowley looks like?
   37. McCoy Posted: October 17, 2012 at 04:50 PM (#4274502)
The article mentions one female sportswriter in favor of the business casual dress code and then TV reporters who aren't in favor of it.

Except TV reporters don't wear any of the things that are banned unless you're watching some Univision weather forecast. Women TV reporters dress professionally. They don't wear short skirts, they don't show cleavage, they don't wear tank tops or flip-flops.
   38. morineko Posted: October 17, 2012 at 04:54 PM (#4274514)
Except TV reporters don't wear any of the things that are banned unless you're watching some Univision weather forecast. Women TV reporters dress professionally. They don't wear short skirts, they don't show cleavage, they don't wear tank tops or flip-flops.


No, they wear sleeveless dresses; I've seen enough sports TV to know.
   39. Booey Posted: October 17, 2012 at 05:01 PM (#4274528)
(1) as a man who is always too hot in any given indoor space

Confident, aren't we? ;-D
   40. JRVJ Posted: October 17, 2012 at 05:06 PM (#4274546)
28, I did, but in Spanish when I was as kid, so I might have missed some nuances.

Who was it? Venus Flytrap?
   41. cardsfanboy Posted: October 17, 2012 at 05:21 PM (#4274593)
28, I did, but in Spanish when I was as kid, so I might have missed some nuances.

Who was it? Venus Flytrap?


Les Nessman was banned from the locker room, because after an interview someone said "Queer little fellow isn't he?" (using the word queer to mean weird, not gay, but a player overheard it and had Les banned because he thought they meant gay)
   42. JRVJ Posted: October 17, 2012 at 06:19 PM (#4274715)
Les "CHICHI Rodrigüez" Nessman? The squarest, mousiest, most mid-western guy you can think of? Good grief.
   43. boteman is not here 'til October Posted: October 17, 2012 at 06:31 PM (#4274749)
Trying to keep up with fashion trends and their fallout is a fool's errand.
   44. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: October 17, 2012 at 09:24 PM (#4274919)
I think the players are perfectly content to just get it over with and the reporters, especially newspaper reporters on a deadline, are grateful for the immediacy.

Are newspaper reporters actually on deadlines anymore? What would happen if they were to miss it? The webpage would be late?
   45. Pirate Joe Posted: October 17, 2012 at 11:18 PM (#4274989)
Les "CHICHI Rodrigüez" Nessman? The squarest, mousiest, most mid-western guy you can think of? Good grief.



Let's hope Mr. Rodrigüez plays a bit more up to par next week.


   46. Howie Menckel Posted: October 17, 2012 at 11:51 PM (#4274998)
"I still have no idea why they are allowed in the locker room."

As noted, they are allowed in the clubhouse because with night games there literally is not enough time for newspaper deadlines to wait for players to get pretty and still make first edition.

Also, I can't tell you how much of a sense of a team you can get from being around the (especially losing) team 10-12 minutes after a crucial, close game ends. Players may say bland stuff, but they're not great at hiding what they feel.

Does this give gamblers vital information for the next game? Not necessarily. Things can change quickly. But if you see a 'beaten' team one night 'surprisingly' rebound the next night, you have a lead on the fact that something unusual may have happened in between.

And for all the "all the quotes are boring, so who cares" crowd, realize that many of the best columns you read can come from those leads.

If after the next game the surviving teams is celebrating and you hear the star player point at some unlikely source - and you find out that person told a funny or poignant story before the game and that loosened everyone up - that can make for a well-told column that even cynical BBTFers might admit they enjoyed. And they may not wonder, 'How did the columnist find out about that, when none of the players in the much more sanitary TV interview rooms mentioned it?'

I think the question "why do they need to be there?" is very fair. There are a lot more answers than just that point, frankly.

............

"Are newspaper reporters actually on deadlines anymore? What would happen if they were to miss it? The webpage would be late?"

People over 50 still tend to be very fond of print newspapers. They will disappear in something less than 30 years - but not tomorrow or the next day. And those readers like to read about the game - and the insight on the star player's injury, and if some player said something controversial - over breakfast the next day.


   47. Howie Menckel Posted: October 18, 2012 at 12:10 AM (#4275004)

re WNBA


per the WNBA Media Guide re access:

"Both the Fever and visitors' locker rooms will be open to the
media for 30 minutes, beginning 90 minutes before tipoff. For
example, the locker rooms will be open from 5:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
for a 7:00 p.m. tip.
Both locker rooms will be open for 30 minutes following the
game. Players will remain in uniform for the media availability
period.
Cell phone use by media is prohibited inside team dressing
rooms."

The only difference in terms of access, male or female, is that the players aren't out of uniform in the locker room.

As noted earlier, many NBA players and other pro athletes are quite reserved about their postgame attire. Others... ok, not so much.


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