On Thursday, it was reported that Dannon had ended is sponsorship with Cam Newton, after the athlete made a sexist comment to female reporter, Jourdan Rodrigue, during a press conference. The athlete has since apologized for his comments and explained himself. In this period, people took to social media to express their thoughts on the situation, and it seems that the majority of people, disagree with the stance that Dannon took. Most people agreed that Newton did not intend to degrade the reporter, but was simply impressed by her sports acumen. Fair enough.
I have to agree with the majority, because I do believe that Damon’s response was disproportionate to the severity of Cam Newton’s comment. However, I do see where Dannon is coming from, in terms of the perceived sexism clothed in his comment.
Jourdan Rodrigue is a female sports reporter. She has been for most of her professional life. That being said, it is within her job responsibilities, to know about sport. As a sport reporter, she has to have in depth knowledge of sport and should be able to open up discourse on sport, as well as analyze sport. So her divulging her knowledge on some football technicalities, is literally her job. That’s what she has been employed to do.
It is not about Newton’s choice of words. Even if he had used the word ‘impressive’ instead of ‘funny’, his comments would still be percieved as condescending and sexist. It’s about the fact that his comment demonstrated a categorization of women based on gender roles – a convention that the world is progressively trying to get rid off. There is no box for men or women to fit into, other than the fact that women are child bearers and men are not. Women are breaking the barriers of gender role based boxes, and taking on roles that are traditionally perceived as male roles. In this milieu of gender equality, the notion that women and men have to fit into certain boxes (and anything outside of those boxes is strange) is tired, archaic and sexist. Women can be avid sports enthusiasts, and this isn’t impressive or funny, because there is no limit to what a woman can be. Women and men don’t have to be defined by the boxes that society has created for us. The only reason anyone would find a woman speaking in the language of sport funny, is because they inherently harness the belief that sport is for men. And that is sexist.
The black community unsurprisingly, jumped to Cam Newton’s defense, and to an extent rightly so. Dannon took swift and severe action to what was perceived. However, Newton came out the day after, admitted his wrongs and apologized. So Dannon really were unnecessarily harsh. But then again, we call for the heads of white people for making racist comments, so why don’t we hold black men against those standards, when they make sexist comments? Food for thought.