A Little “Rey” of Sunshine

It seems that there is a never ending stream of men, who are in the national spotlight, that perpetuate sexism and violence against women. From athletes to actors to politicians they just keep on coming. The latest example is USC Linebacker, Rey Maualuga. To celebrate the Trojan’s 2009 Rose Bowl victory, Rey decided to have a little fun with ESPN sideline reporter Erin Andrews. Take a look…

Many would argue that Maualuga was just having a little fun or that his actions were harmless. On message boards everywhere, men and women are dismissing this incident as no big deal. They are saying that Erin Andrews should have a tough skin and should expect this sort of treatment. After all, this is what happens to a woman on the sideline of a football game, right? Others are saying that the dance wasn’t derogatory or sexual. However, it is clear to me that it was. If you think it was not, ask yourself this – would Maualuga do the same thing to a teammate? A coach? A male reporter? Of course not. In the hyper-masculine and heterosexist world of NCAA football and male culture in general, he would be risking his social standing (regardless of his actual sexual orientation) because dancing like that behind another man implies homosexuality. It’s like the scene from Pulp Fiction were Jules Winfield was trying to convince Vincent Vega that foot massages aren’t sexual. Vincent makes his point with one simple question – “Would you give a man a foot massage?” Jules simply but definitively replied “Fuck you.”

It is time for people to stop making excuses for this sort of behavior. Maualuga’s actions clearly reinforce the notion that it is OK for men to treat women as less than equal or as sex objects. As long as this is the norm things like domestic violence and rape will continue to have a place in our world. Just listen to the reaction of the guys watching from the stands. They quickly cheered him on and praised him for treating her that way. The message was loud and clear for those men and many others that have seen it since. Maualuga needs to step up, be a real man, and sincerely apologize for this. Then he needs to volunteer at a rape crisis center or domestic violence shelter for about 6 months so he can see the real impact of sexism. Perhaps he will also realize that his actions weren’t too bright after all.

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