Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Dan Patrick Crushed My Morale


The Dan Patrick Show

I am a sports fan.  I share my enthusiasm for sports with my significant other, M. What we do not share is a liking for day-long sports news updates provided by ESPN streaming via the TV in the living room.  It’s turned down to a low volume thanks to my numerous pleas.  But it is always on.  Other sports networks show up as well.  M is not an ESPN loyalist.  But I am not aware of what the other sports news outlets are, nor do I care, unless the news is about the Pittsburgh Steelers or the broadcaster is Dan Patrick.

Over the years, in an attempt to connect with M, or use him as a pillow while taking a short nap after getting the girls off to school, I would join him in watching Mike and Mike in the Morning airing on ESPN.  The show became annoying to me because the hosts, Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic, were repetitive, lacked in-depth analysis, and in my opinion, seemed afraid to share their true opinions on topics they covered.  So one morning, after Mike and Mike, M turned the channel over to The Dan Patrick Show assuring me I would enjoy the host, Dan Patrick, much better.  The fact that he was a native of Ohio and defector of ESPN also intrigued me.

As time went by, Mike and Mike became completely replaced by the Dan Patrick Show.  On mornings when I chose not to be lazy and nap in front of the TV with M, I found myself choosing to do sedentary work on my laptop (in lieu of housework which requires movement) so that I could strategically place myself in view of the TV so as to not miss the Dan Patrick Show.  But the day I can say I officially became a fan of Dan Patrick was when his show aired the morning following the weekend that the  Penn State child sexual abuse scandal broke in the media.

I was glued to the show for the entire week.  No napping.  No work.  Just watching. Dan Patrick’s coverage of the child sexual abuse scandal at Penn State was phenomenal.  No other show or network, covering sports or headline news, gave it comparable reporting.  Dan Patrick’s handling of the topic was intelligent, factual, sensitive to the victims, heavy handed on the alleged perpetrator and conspirators of cover-up, and gave voice to victims of child sexual abuse.  In essence, he put down his sports reporting notepad and pencil and picked up a poster printed with bold lettering, “CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE IS WRONG.”

Dan Patrick Show, Studio, Milford, CT
As a survivor of child sexual abuse, to me, this was powerful stuff.  Typically when stories like this reach the media, controversy and debate ensue giving more voice to the alleged perpetrators in order to maintain the fa├žade that powerful institutions are impermeable to such horrific accusations.  Movement is usually swift in protecting the establishment’s reputation.  Cover up is priority.  Excuses are mandatory.  But this was not the case with the story in the hands Dan Patrick.   

He took time to tell his viewers of the impact that child sexual abuse has on victims—the damage it does to victims' lives for years into adulthood.  He would not be moved by callers with varying opinions of Joe Paterno's status as coach of the Penn State football team.  Paterno knew of the crimes committed and failed to report them to authorities other than higher ups at the university.  Dan Patrick bravely stated, “Joe Paterno has lost the right to be the head coach of Penn State.”  He even took calls from victims of child sexual abuse, allowing them to share bits of their stories.  Callers always ended with an outpouring of gratitude, thanking him for using his show to shed light on a topic that gets swept under the rug far too often.

Dan Patrick is good at what he does. I'd say, he is one of the best.  He gives insightful commentary on sports news and couples it with clever entertainment in his banter with his show's supporting cast.  He's a stand-out co-host on NBC’s Football Night in America and was bestowed the honor of presenting the Super Bowl XLVI trophy to team winning quarterback, Eli Manning.  He has also made several appearances as an actor on the silver screen and I think he’s talented enough to take over for the menacing David Letterman.  So yes, I am a fan of Dan Patrick. . .

. . .or was, until last week.

Wall of Morale (photo credit)
I had been aware of The Dan Patrick Show's Wall of Morale but had never given it much attention.  If you aren’t familiar, the Wall of Morale is an area in the show’s studio devoted to posters of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition covers.  I must have missed viewer competitions from years past wherein votes are cast to determine which poster comes down off the wall to make room for the current cover.  But last week I caught this year’s ridiculous hoopla while peaking over the screen of my laptop.  And I was angry.

"With great power comes great responsibility."
~Stan Lee
I truly believe that when one has been given talent they are charged with using that talent and sharing it with the world in order to make change.  The change doesn’t always have to be magnificent in the number of people affected, nor does it have to have the impact to be a catalyst of world peace.  One's work, even if it changes only one person for the better, is significant. It’s not for the talented to determine if his impact is going to be great enough to make a difference. The talented only needs to determine how much fear he will allow to get in the way of his expression.

Bar Refaeli
When Dan Patrick covered the Penn State scandal with such skill and insight he raised the bar for sports journalists and broadcasters.  He courageously answered his call and responsibility as a man with talent.  He embraced his position of having a powerful voice in the media and used it as an opportunity to raise awareness.  His was a shining moment in broadcasting and one in which the world of news media should use as a lesson in ethical and honorable reporting.

Contrarily, for him to devote so much of his show's time to making the decision of which model to keep on the Wall of Morale, making the objectification of women a colossal event, was not only wrong, but a horrific departure.  I was deeply, incredibly disappointed.  In my eyes, another great voice failed to go "against the grain" and sold-out in the name of a pay check.

Dan Patrick must not have been aware of findings from the APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls and cited by Miss Representation that indicate:
  • the hyper-sexualization of women is linked to depression and eating disorders. 
  • the pornification of women in main stream media is numbing boys and men to the true value of women. 
Dan Patrick had an opportunity to speak on the crisis of the objectification of women in America to an audience wherein the message is desperately needed and to an audience who has his full attention—sports fans.  He proved he can make a difference in how people view critical cultural topics during his coverage of the Penn State scandal.  In his silly enthusiasm over the Wall of Morale, he succumbed to fear—fear of losing members of his fan base, fear of losing support of SI.com who hosts his show’s website, and fear of looking less macho to a world full of hot women who he refers to as “shorties” and  then jokes about making room for them in his bed.
 
"Every society has a way of torturing its women, whether by binding their feet or by sticking them into whalebone corsets. What contemporary American culture has come up with is designer jeans."
~Joel Yager, M.D.

One last point.  Dan Patrick has a daughter.  All I can surmise is that he does not find raising a daughter in a world that objectifies women to be challenging.  I really wish I could ask him how he does it.  Does he tell her it’s OK to be valued for sex?  I bet he does not.  And I bet, one day, she’ll identify his hypocrisy and be as disappointed in him as I am.




photo credit: The Cut via photopin cc

photo credit: cattias.photos via photo pin cc

37 comments:

  1. I am always so happy when a talented, famous person uses their power for good and really makes an impact or shows bravery when needed. I'm also really disappointed when that same person does something incredibly stupid or cruel. I wonder if he even realizes the problems with that wall and broadcast segment and the message it's sending to men and women both. Sorry he was your disappointment, I enjoyed reading about how well he handled the Penn State scandal.

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    1. I feel your connection and empathy, Anna, and am grateful. Thanks.

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  2. At the risk of sounding sexist, it never cease to amaze me how otherwise intelligent, insightful, and sensible men (even those who are considered as heroes by some), could suddenly be so stupid, immature, and irresponsible when it comes to women. Clearly, men's brain seems to switch off upon the sight of a minimally-clad women.

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    1. My brain switches off upon the sight of a scantily dressed woman, it's natural. The problem is we look to media personalities to discern what to do with these internal stirrings. When the people we look to for cues are blatantly wrong, it becomes confusing and we doubt ourselves, our reactions. Vague and incomplete though, I know. Love that you came by to comment. <3

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  3. This just makes me mad. A man is a man is a man, unfortunately. Well, in the case of Dan Patrick anyway.

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    1. Yes. And a man with a fear of losing a paycheck is a man afraid of losing a paycheck--and will not risk that compensation at any cost, even the cost of perpetuating a harmful stereotype.

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  4. Oh my goodness. You should email this post to the Dan Patrick show and tweet it with his hashtag. What an important statement you've made - you are right, his coverage sounded fantastic and brave - and yet, he's cut off all of his credibility with that wall of mysoginy. Go, you! PS: I'm so sad to hear you experienced child sexual abuse. )-:

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    1. Hello Ado! Always a delight to see you, sincerely. I tweeted to the show several times. Several versions of an email intro to the post have been swirling around the brain. I appreciate your support.

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  5. Really, really good observations. I am a 33 yr old male who loves the DP Show. This group of men clearly understand how media works and are careful in how they craft their show. So I believe this is an intentional appeal to what they think their target demographic wants. I don't have the vocabulary to articulate what's really going on here...but I'm personally uncomfortable with the way they sexualize young women and criticize men who aren't "manly" or don't conform to their definition of masculine behavior. This is all subtle and masked behind an adolescent jokester framework...but it is real, and I'm glad you gave a voice to it...the worst part is, I'll probably keep listening. Ack.

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    1. Thanks for taking the time to share your observations. I believe you articulated them well with great vocabulary: "but I'm personally uncomfortable with the way they sexualize young women and criticize men who aren't "manly" or don't conform to their definition of masculine behavior. This is all subtle and masked behind an adolescent jokester framework...but it's real." Brilliant and accurate. (I write this as I listen, double Ack).

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    2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  6. This is an awesome post Kimberly and agree with Ado that you should send it in to Dan Patrick. As a fellow survivor of child abuse, and a wife who finds ESPN as a constant presence in my home, I also LOVED Dan Patrick's stance on the scandal and the focus being on the kids and their families and the lasting effects of abuse rather than Joe Paterno's career. That said, this Wall and objectifying women is perpetuates an issue that affects all of us, our kids and his daughter as well. Perhaps if you do tweet it and send it in as Ado suggests, he just might be reminded.

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    1. I appreciate your feedback and am grateful for your willingness to share that because of being a survivor, you too were moved by Dan Patrick's coverage of the Penn State scandal. You articulate well that the Wall of Morale perpetuates a related issue, one that affects us collectively as a culture of people trying to make sense of and give voice to the destruction of our children.

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  7. Great post, Kimberly. If we keep it up, one voice at a time, views will change. Or at least I would like to believe that. Will believe it. With the super-charged medieval rhetoric going on these days it's even more important to have our voices heard. That's what you have done here. A couple of nights ago I watched The Whistleblower. It's a film about sex trafficking of young women that occurred by UN members during the Bosnian war. I can't get it out of my mind. It was so horrific - perpetrated by the very forces sent to protect them. True story. Your post is a voice heard. Terrific.

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    1. "With super-charged medieval rhetoric going on these days it's even more important to have our voices heard." What a rally call; It is deeply felt. Will be looking for The Wistleblower...sounds like you have the makings of an impactful post. Thanks so, so much.

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  8. I don't think having a wall of SI covers negates the amazing reporting and thoughtful commentary you describe. It is just very disappointing that he completely glances over the connect that those photos have to sexual abuse in other arenas. That last cover, the one with a piece of material the size of a rose petal covering the model's crotch, makes it clear that her lady parts are hairless - and I've always thought of that as an infantilization of women. (I realize not everyone sees it this way, but there you go.)

    I love your even-handed treatment of his talent and your clear run-down of why he should know better. Have you sent him this link?

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    1. Thanks, Kristin. You articulated the connection of child sexual abuse to the Wall of Morale in a way I could not. Tweeted!

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  9. And I was liking him SO much. Ugh. It seems he's just another celebrity looking to make a buck. Even if that means belittling and objectifying women. Which seems to be okay to so many in our world today. When will we ever get past this?

    Great post. I too am disappointed in him.

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    1. Hi Katie. I think we can get past this if we keep the conversation going. Thanks for contributing!

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  10. What a thought provoking, well-written post. Very fair. It is late and I definitely want to mull this one over.
    Your point, "the pornification of women in main stream media is numbing boys and men to the true value of women," is one I constantly worry over for my daughters' sakes. It makes us have to double-down and enhance our efforts that much more to instill esteem. Ellen

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    1. Hi Ellen. I am interested in your thoughts on the subject and appreciate you letting me know that you are giving it some thought. This point: "the pornification of women in main stream media is numbing boys and men to the true value of women," came from an email to Catherine McMcall (a fantastic voice at Psychology Today)from www.missrepresentation.org. An area of the Web I recommend checking out.

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  11. Very, very well said. It's one thing to talk the talk and quite another to walk the walk. I really hope you do send this link on to the network and to Dan Patrick directly. I think it will make a big impact.

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    1. Ah, yes, Jennifer. When the walk and the talk don't reflect each other, it's very confusing, harmful, and hurtful--especially to the walker/talker.

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  12. Great job, Kimberly. Very well done. All the way around. You continue to amaze me. I'm happy we know each other.

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    1. Wow. Sometimes the heart is so full, there are no words. Thank you, Missy.

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  13. Very, very insightful and thought-provoking. I was proud of him and then disappointed. Like Jennifer said above I hope this will reach him and impact him.

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  14. What a powerful piece, Kimberly, and I hope that this piece is the "a-ha" moment he needs.

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  15. What the lot of you fail to understand is that women ARE sexual objects. Certainly you're much more than that, but you ARE sexual objects as well. The survival of the human race kind of depends on it. Rather than whining about the old and vapid argument that men shouldn't talk about women in this manner, just accept that we don't think like you. We NEVER will.

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    1. The survival of the human race certainly does not depend upon objectifying women. Sexuality is natural, it needs no help from misogynistic attitudes to occur. (You don't see the lioness in the jungle prowling around in a swimsuit, and yet she is able to attract a mate and perpetuate the species). The objectification of women is unhealthy for society--not only women, but also men. For instance, a 2008 study (published in Psychology of Men & Masculinity, Vol 8(2), Apr 2007, 95-102) indicates that "men who were exposed to female objectified images endorsed greater levels of anxiety and hostility than those exposed to objectified male or neutral media images." I think most rational people would agree that we all would benefit from less anxiety and hostility in the world.

      And you are right, females and males are quite different in their thinking. However, these differences do not mean that women should accept being treated as objects. We are sexual people--not things.

      Thanks for your feedback.

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    2. Absolute psychobabble. What does that even mean "to endorse greater levels of anxiety and hostility". Are they more hostile to other men? Do they have anxiety about being more hostile towards other men? Your quoting some random bullshit study to try to make your point valid and it isn't. We all objectify the opposite sex, and it's normal. Nobody gets together with a partner strictly because they have a great personality. Physical attraction is always at least part of it. The fact is the lioness in the jungle and every other species on the planet does things to make themselves more attractive to potential mates. That lipstick or eye shadow you put on your face is inviting me to objectify you. What exactly are you upset about? That men like looking at attractive women. Have you ever noticed that it's only women who complain about this tripe. You never hear a man complaining about the "sexy fireman" calender or any other form of objectification.

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    3. Hi Adam. If you would like clarification on the findings in the scientific study, feel free to look it up and read it. It should be easy to find using Google Search with the citation I provided.

      You are confusing aspects of sexual attraction with sexual objectification. Seeing a person as a sexual "PERSON" is of course natural and part of how things go. I have no problem with that and enjoy wearing lipstick very much. Seeing a person as an "OBJECT"...that's a problem. It's dehumanizing.

      As far as the firemen calendars, there are scientific studies that point to men being adversely affected by being objectified. But I'm not going to provide you with those. Try Google Scholar if you're interested in reading them. However, please note, some articles may only be available via the library or through a paid subscription. Unfortunately, reliable information isn't always free.

      And I have heard men complain about the sexy firemen...men who don't measure up...men with less than perfect bodies...and I do not think that is right either.

      I'm upset that a brilliant broadcaster stoops to the level of objectifying women when he knows it isn't right. It's pretty clear and my view is supported by many. Dan Patrick is a great broadcaster. I expect greatness out of great people.

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  16. DP isn't doing anything wrong. They are SI covers with beautiful women who are models and choose to do that work.. SI is a sports magazine and the DP show is a sports show. I'm glad you have an issue youre passionate about but just because he doesn't champion your issue doesn't mean he is objectifying women.

    My suggestion would be to not watch or listen to the show if it bothers you. As an American you have that right just as the girls have the right to model in bikinis on SI covers and DP does to put them up on his wall.


    Your blog was intelligent and well written until you got to the women's lib thing. Throwing a fit about this stuff doesn't help the view of "women in sports".

    So basically enjoy the show or don't. But take it for what it is and know that no one is objectifying anyone. Not to mention you aren't his target demo.


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    1. I am aware I am not his target demo and aware of my right to change the channel, which I do on a daily basis. I rarely watch the DP Show anymore because he regularly objectifies women.

      SI swimsuit models aren't athletes and have nothing to do with sports with the exception that they appear in a sports magazine. We'll have to agree to disagree.

      Thanks for your polite feedback.

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  17. I'll keep my commentary short...
    A) Sexual oppression leads to an increase in sexual violence and crime.
    B) We live in a nation that promotes freedom of publication and speech, try to embrace this instead of babbling about something as innocent as bikini pictures.
    C) I think the swimsuit issue is redundant and somewhat sexist as well. I have a solution that allows me to sleep at night... I don't buy it.
    D) You seem like you have plenty of time on your hands and a big interest in sports. Why don't you start a blog pertaining to women's sports. I won't be reading it, but it would be a proactive way to sort out your slanted feelings.
    E)On a real level- they're bikinis- they don't bite, they can't hurt you. Do you really get all torn up inside when you go to the beach or what? It's just human beings and their bodies. There's probably much worse real pornography out there that might endanger a child's developmental psyche, but I don't think a picture of a bikini is any sort of viable threat.

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  18. It is just human beings and their bodies, so why objectify them in comments made during a sports show?

    I do embrace freedom of speech, aka this piece.

    As I've said before to others, we'll have to agree to disagree.

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  19. Has bonnie bernstein replied to your uninformed blog? check her out when she fills in for Dan on the show...

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  20. She's too busy being 'cougar of the week'.

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