Under The Bleachers: #MoreThanMean Shows Ugly Side Of Social Media

Above: A screenshot from the #MoreThanMean campaign, which highlights the harassment women in sports face on social media
Above: A screenshot from the #MoreThanMean campaign, which highlights the harassment women in sports face on social media

Lots of people love sports and take their fandom very seriously, often allowing their feelings to spill over to social media, which has become a necessary companion for viewing for some.

Earlier this week, the ugly side of that passion was put on full display as Just Not Sports dropped its #MoreThanMean PSA featuring ESPN’s Sarah Spain and fellow Chicago sportswriter Julie DiCaro that has become one of the most-shared videos on the internet over the last couple days:

It’s a powerful video that is difficult to watch at the same time, as the men asked to read the horrific things people actually send to these two women is shocking, maddening and depressing all at once. So too are some of responses that have surfaced in the last couple days as well.

Not only have more callous human beings taken to saying vile things to both women on social media, but there has been a rush to say, “Men deal with this stuff too!” as if presenting what these women hear on a daily basis in any way suggested that male members of the media don’t have to deal with harassment, ignorance and an avalanche of insults on similar platforms.

Men, of course, deal with online harassment too, though it should be noted that it’s a very different kind of harassment in many cases.

When’s the last time a male sportswriter was told “I hope you get raped again” or that their own value in this world is in the kitchen or on their knees? How many times has a male sportswriter been told, “I hope your significant other beats you” simply because they speak about sports?

That’s not to say that what women deal with is a greater degree of wrong than what men face on social media platforms – it’s all awful and shameful and one of the reasons why Twitter is the worst amazing creation in the last 20 years.

Social media is great because it gives us access and insights into the lives and goings on of people we otherwise wouldn’t get to interact with in real life – athletes, musicians, politicians, companies – but some people ruin it for everyone else by being horrible human beings on these platforms, using that access to say deplorable things that would get them punched in the mouth (or worse) if they were said face-to-face.

And that’s the beauty and power of this #MoreThanMean PSA – you can see the anguish these men go through having to look Spain and DiCaro in the face while calling them bitches and reading that “one of the players should beat you to death with their hockey stick like the whore you are.”

Who the &%$@ says that to another human being – someone they don’t legitimately know – because they don’t like the sports opinion they are putting forward? Are you kidding me?

It’s not just sports either. It’s everything. People say miserable, demeaning and degrading things to complete strangers – people they see on television or movies or whatever – all the time and somehow think it’s acceptable or funny or part of the cost of being famous.

It’s none of those things. It’s deplorable and it needs to stop. Like the final message of the video says, “We wouldn’t say it to their faces. So let’s not type it.” That’s a pretty good starting point in the never-ending quest for everyone to #DoBetter.

E. Spencer Kyte

E. Spencer Kyte is a freelance journalist based in Abbotsford, British Columbia, where he lives with his wife and dog. In addition to his work here, he writes about sports for Complex Canada and covers the UFC for various outlets. His mom also still tells him what to do on a regular basis, even though he’s nearly 40. He tweets from @spencerkyte.

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