Screen Shot 2017-01-24 at 9.17.31 AM

Op Ed: Misogyny as Perpetuated by Middlebury Athletics Communications on Inauguration Weekend

*the following opinion does not necessarily reflect that of middbeat as a whole 

“Men’s Alpine Dominates Day One at St. Lawrence Carnival”

This is the headline on the Middlebury Athletics homepage that greeted me after my first and historic carnival win. Deprived of the full story, it probably seems quite innocent. In reality, it is an inaccurate, sexist and unprofessional headline that reflects the general attitude towards women in sport. Let me tell you why.

The men’s team did not dominate. They skied admirably, claiming 6 of the top 15 spots and I am so proud of their grit and perseverance, but they did not dominate. In fact, the women’s team, who placed 4 in the top 12, trailed the men by just 5 points and both genders placed second behind Dartmouth and UVM respectively. Since we are scored together (along with the Nordic team but we will leave them out of this discussion), the sensible headline would have been that we—men AND women—actually won the Alpine side of the carnival on Day One!

Or perhaps they could acknowledge my dominating performance that set a record for the largest winning margin in NCAA Division I Giant Slalom history: 3.89 seconds. But no, not according to Middlebury’s Athletic Communications Department. Let’s keep the focus on what really matters: the men.

Sitting at the dinner table with my team and my parents, I reluctantly clicked on the article to see if it could somehow be salvaged. Not surprisingly, they spend a paragraph talking about the men’s team before getting around to the women’s performance. I immediately sent a screenshot to my coach Stever, who was arguably more upset about it than me. He went to work, promising to make it right. Contacting the writer proved to be an incredibly difficult task but we waited together until they finally made an adjustment. Refreshing the page optimistically, our heads dropped when our eyes met the new headline.

“Men’s Alpine Dominates, Bartlett Wins at St. Lawrence Carnival”

It felt like a slap in the face. I realize this is coming from a place of incredible privilege, but I have never been so obviously placed as a subordinate to men, in a Middlebury College publication nonetheless. It so naively spells out the additional battle that women fight every time we compete. We are an accommodation, never to steal the spotlight from our male counterparts. I am not upset about this headline out of vanity. This isn’t about my ski racing career. It is about my life as a woman, my experience, and my discomfort in having to plead my case and assure you that yes, I did indeed dominate. More importantly, it is about all the other female athletes whose successes go unrecognized and uncelebrated. We are not simply side notes to be mentioned “in addition to”. We aren’t the opening act. I shouldn’t have to rely on my male head coach to write emails, make calls, and leave voice messages just to be treated as equal while I worry about coming off as conceited.

Out of curiosity, I looked up the definition of the word dominate: be the most important or conspicuous person or thing in. Synonyms include: overshadow, rule, dwarf. In the most twisted of senses, this headline is actually spot on. The men DID overshadow, they DID rule, and they certainly DID dwarf. But instead of dominating the competition, as implied, they dominate me and the rest of the women’s team. This headline saga represents a trickle down of what hundreds of thousands of people marched to fight on Saturday. Although I could not participate in the march, I hope that my timely interaction with the patriarchy, on the very day Donald Trump was sworn into office, can perhaps tame Middlebury’s contributions to it.

I realize that a headline is not the end of the world and it is hardly an oppressive force in my life. But I could not stay silent on a small employment of the same glass ceiling that denied Clinton her victory and simultaneously denied millions their security.

Had it been the original, the final headline is balanced if not a touch dull. But absent of the word dominate, it leaves a gaping hole for the writer’s bias to shine through. It seems as though the word cannot be used to describe a female performance and furthermore, a female performance is not worthy of a captivating headline.

“Panthers Strong On Day One of St. Lawrence Carnival Led by Bartlett’s GS Win”

 I am left with two questions.

  1. Why do we have an Athletic Communications Department that approves sexist, inaccurate, and quite frankly boring articles that diminish the successes of women?
  1. Can women ever dominate?

 

40 thoughts on “Op Ed: Misogyny as Perpetuated by Middlebury Athletics Communications on Inauguration Weekend

  1. First off – Congrats on the win. But while I understand that you’d like recognition in the headline, you were the photo and had an entire paragraph of the (short) article dedicated to you. The men placed 6 in the top 15 which is unprecedented for them, also quite impressive, and should be of note in the title.

    Looking across other Middlebury Ski (and other sports) headlines, there is really no pattern of misogyny. For one, often TEAM performances are highlighted over those of individuals. This is shown across the website, especially in similar dual-gender sports like swimming. Yes, in the ski archives you do see some names. However, many of those are of women – looking just at the 2016 season headlines, male and female skiers are highlighted almost equally (e.g. “Phinney Places Second, Men’s Alpine With Four in Top 12 on Day One at Bates Carnival”).

    As a female athlete at Middlebury myself, I feel this is a bit of an unfair and extreme article. Yes, you could have hoped for a title similar to that of Phinney’s last year, but I think that taking it so far as to label it sexism or misogyny is uncalled for.

    1. Caroline didn’t just win, a feat that many Midd athletes have done before. She won by the largest margin in Carnival GS history, something the article does not even mention. Why was that not the headline? Why is that not something the college would want to spread as far and wide as possible? It is because, like all of us, the communications department has implicit bias and in this case priotitized the good results of the men over the amazing results of one woman. I do not think they did it on purpose, however, Caroline pointing it out will help them to recognize that bias and work towards more balanced reporting. Sexism and misogyny do not have to be public, disgusting, and overt for them to harm women. Incidents such as these can be just as damaging.

  2. Well said. As a former female athlete at Midd, I couldn’t imagine being upset about not having my name in the title of an article. The people I care about know how well I did and that was always enough. This seems like more of a personal issue than a gender related one. Midd communications works hard and there’s no reason to bash them for one headline when the content of the article is fair and representative.

  3. Dear Neglected Skier:
    While you were looking up the word “dominate”, perhaps you should have also checked the definition for misogyny: the hatred of, contempt for, or prejudice against women or girls. I didn’t see any of that in the headline or the article. As a woman, I think it’s more demeaning that you are focusing on press coverage rather than your accomplishments or that of your team’s. You skied great. Can’t that be satisfaction enough?

    1. Hi Anonymous,

      “Can’t that be satisfaction enough?” is a great question. A friend pointed out to me that no doubt – winning is enough. But by not taking the opportunity to write this article, it would mean Caroline would have watched someone’s subconscious bias strike again and done nothing about it. We can’t sit by and let those things happen because when people who aren’t implicitly sexist aren’t told that what they did was sexist, sexism is further perpetrated. Im not sure why anonymous commenters are criticizing her of writing about a “personal issue” or “focusing on press coverage” because she states multiple times in the article that the point is not that she felt a lack of attention.

      This weekend’s particular recap from the communications department was most likely just an oversight. Still, the emphasis on the men’s team success made Caroline Bartlett’s historic win and the Women’s team exceptional contribution to the overall score come across as less valuable and less worthy. In order to fix this, we must talk about it. That is why “skiing great” is not always enough.

      Please feel free to e-mail me if you’d like to talk more about this. I included it with my real name.

    2. Winning is a great satisfaction, but this isn’t about her not getting the recognition she deserves. Its bigger than that.

  4. Caroline you’re right. Straight up. The folks commenting anonymously above, are wrong. Good for you for saying something about this — it’s not fun or easy to take the time to call this stuff out. And congratulations on crushing it at St. Lawrence! 3.89 seconds ahead is epic!

    – Bronwyn

  5. “But instead of dominating the competition, as implied, they dominate me and the rest of the women’s team”
    Respect middlebury men’s alpine, respect.

    1. Your blatant, personal attack on Caroline’s character is the reason that the content of this article is important. She states multiple times in the article that it isn’t about personal attention, it’s about equal representation. If you’re interested in understanding further how women are systematically underrepresented in athletics please feel free to email me, like Linley, I included my real name.

  6. No excuses for this, Midd Athletics Communications! This may or may not be misogyny… but to leave the Alpine women out of this Carnival headline is inexcusable. Although I don’t know Caroline (and she shouldn’t have been the one needing to call you out), I highly doubt that her intent was to get her name in the headline, incredible as her nearly 4 second win was. Naming her in version #2 suggests that you entirely miss her point, and are oblivious to the systemic issue here. Please, Middlebury – join the 21st century!

    1. I am the mother of an NCAA ski racer from a competing school. I was there and watched Caroline’s amazing off the charts GS day. All of us moms were blown away with her athletic championship two run win. Congratulations! A joy to watch. I was more amazed for her articulate and accurate reply to the lack of professionalism at a top level college newspaper. I have now more respect for Caroline than I did before her championship win. This is about women’s rights. Caroline is 100% correct in her reply. In my view she represents and speaks for all young and even us older women in what is fair and what is right.
      Go Caroline Go, I can’t wait to see your star sinning all season.
      Leslie Ryder

  7. Caroline – thank you for this article.

    The thing that some commenters seem to be touching on is that this incident seems to be isolated, personal, and that the sexism that occurred was not the intentions of the article.

    The first thing of note- this isn’t isolated. You’ve picked up on a recent example that indicates a trend in how female sports are reported. For instance, the various headlines during the Olympics, that take the focus off the female athletes and instead highlight their male counterparts/ coaches/ husbands etc. This is not an isolated event that you’ve highlighted, but instead a wider problem of how we watch and report on female sports.

    Secondly, commenters seem to view your position as selfish. I think that point is very much disproven with your displeasure in the revised headline, which highlights your accomplishments but erases your female team members. Additionally, there is nothing wrong with wanting equal acknowledgment for your accomplishments. People that were not at the event will be getting the story from this article; it is fair to expect the headline will accurately reflect the event.

    Finally, many believe that the sexism which occurred was not on purpose. This I agree with. I do not think this was the intention of the newspaper (and agree with the commentators who mention they work hard). However, I think this is also what makes this issue interesting and worth calling out. Sexism has permeated our culture in such a way that either it becomes invisible to those not experiencing it, or choosing to not acknowledge it. The headline was sexist; it is also so common that both the newspaper and many readers were blind to it. Hopefully you have increased the awareness of the writers for Middlebury Athletics to this issue, and I look forward to better headlines to come.

    Thank you for fighting the good fight!

  8. Including the sexist tone, the further disservice is that the athletic communications office rarely puts together a report on these teams free from typos, outright errors or woefully incomplete reports.

  9. Congratulations Caroline. 3.89 seconds. You could write an entire article about that margin in itself and how unprecedented that is. That’s unheard of. Mind boggling. Scored a 9. Second place scored a 38. If that’s not domination, then I don’t know what is. The news, as reported to me through the ski racing grapevine, by people who actually know what’s up went something like this, “Caroline absolutely crushed everybody.” Keep up the good work. Proud day to be a Panther.

      1. You’re right. 4 out of the 10 mention men’s teams, and 2 are cross country (non-gendered). That’s what we call equality!

  10. Although you live a beautiful bubble sheltered from the outside world, this is comical. You mention the women’s team placing 4 out of the top 12, but your argument is focused on placing your name in the title, not the women’s team. This is not misogyny, this is narcissism – as noted above. The world does not revolve around you.

    1. Oh Please-
      Caroline won by a margin of 3.89 seconds. In the ski racing world that is unheard of. No one has ever done it before in the history of Carnival Giant Slaloms and, quite frankly, it is possible no one will do it again for 50 years. The men’s team certainly did well, they have done well in the past, and they will do well again. That is not the headline. Caroline is the headline. Asking for fair reporting on her incredible accoplishment is not selfish, it is brave.

  11. As a former female student-athlete at Midd, I demand you apologize to the extremely hard-working and professional athletic communications department.

    Accusing the entire department of being “sexist and unprofessional” is not something to be taken lightly. Just throwing those words around because your win was not in the headline is immature and divisive to your team. I would hope the coach of your team is appalled that you are claiming misogyny over your INDIVIDUAL accomplishment not being recognized or highlighted as much as your team’s accomplishment.

    Reading what was written, it sounds like the team success was highlighted a bit more than your individual win — and rightfully so. If you’d rather get lauded for your individual success, don’t join a team. And certainly don’t bring an unwarranted claim of sexism into this.

    Do the mature thing, step away, realize this isn’t a sexist or misogynistic act and apologize.

    1. Hi former female student-athlete at Midd,

      From one female student-athlete at Midd to another, I truly appreciate hearing your opinion because I know you and I have been through many of the same experiences within the athletic department. I would like to ask of you, however, to also please do the mature thing and set an example as an alumn. Write your own name instead of hiding behind an alias. I think we can have better conversation if we stand by our words and everyone has fair representation.

      All the best

  12. Every day sexism! Good for you for calling it out and writing this piece. You’re to be commended for your efforts and raising awareness for your classmates.

    Please don’t be discouraged by negative comments and stick with it. Just because people don’t get it – it’s on THEM not you – that they’re minds are closed and they are unaware.

  13. Dear Ski Racing Community, Midd Community and all,
    I am a ski racing mom and I was at Lake Placid, I traveled from the west coast to watch my daughter race and I watched Caroline’s historic two run race. It was a remarkable thing to watch! My daughter competes for another school. All of us moms talked about Caroline and how amazing she was, she was truly a Champion this past weekend.
    Today I take my hat off to Caroline for a bigger and more important issue – she called out the unfairness of the way she was covered for this monumental victory. This unfairness has been facing women skiers in the US and also facing women in all US sports, and world wide sports.
    Caroline is a champion of women today! Not only does she speak for all female ski racers she speaks for us older gals too.
    Caroline – you are a star in my eyes. You will shine on the slopes and of the slopes as a true leader.
    I don’t know you personally but I thank you for your courage to speak up for what is right and what is fair for women.
    Go Caroline Go!
    Leslie Ryder

  14. Caroline makes Middlebury proud as a competitor, a teammate, and a voice for recognition and respect of female athletes across all ages and sports. Her frustration and disappointment with the coverage are not “narcissistic.” Indeed, it is both courageous and NECESSARY that she advocate for herself and her female peers to be acknowledged for their incredible, kick-ass, and, yes, record-setting athletic achievements. It is necessary because Caroline deserves to be recognized individually, by name, for her racing this weekend. It is necessary because younger girls deserve to see older female athletes being recognized fully and frequently in the media. If women cannot get equal recognition for setting records and shattering expectations in athletics, then how can we expect to get recognition for our more subtle, daily achievements? That is a necessary question to ask. Some commenters do not think this article is warranted or necessary, but I can guarantee you that it is. It means something to me and to many other Middlebury community members who want to challenge our institution to be better than the lazy, passively sexist norm. Thanks Caroline for bringing that challenge to the forefront!

    1. Caroline,

      That win was totally dominant! Also, I think you’re a great writer and made some really smart and important points. Thanks for being brave enough to do that, even with all the silly trolls out there who want to drag you down. They can pout around all they want until they beat the field by almost four seconds. Just ignore ’em and keep on trucking. So proud of you and the whole Midd team — men and women — for an awesome start to the season.

  15. Caroline – you’re a total hero for that race result and even bigger for this incredibly well written piece.
    Linley – you’re crushing the articulate responses
    I don’t know how you guys are finding time in your day to put up with this shit, but THANK YOU

  16. Congratulations, Caroline! 3.89 seconds is incredible!! What a proud day for midd skiing! From a former midd skier to you and the entire team, keep that momentum going!

  17. I think it’s pretty clear that this isn’t a narcissism thing, it’s part of a much bigger issue. What if roles were reversed and the original headline read “Women’s Alpine Dominates Day One at St. Lawrence Carnival” only to have a male student who broke the record by nearly 4 seconds speak up? I seriously doubt the new headline would read “Women’s Alpine Dominates, Bartlett Wins at St. Lawrence Carnival” – it would give credit to the male skiers, either as a team or individually.

    For those with negative comments, it is clear that you do not yet “get” it, which really just makes me sad for you.

    Caroline, you’re right. The headline update is a huge slap in the face – pretty incredible and extremely disrespectful. Extremely important that you brought this to light as these are the conversations we *need* to be having. Thank you.

  18. Caroline,
    Great article, and well said. I’m sorry that their correction didn’t go as far as to correct the original bias. Anyone who is commenting that you are narcissistic didn’t read your piece because you clearly and eloquently stated you were standing up for your female teammates and it wasn’t about you.
    Thanks for writing about this and for standing up for what’s right.

  19. Congrats on your win! Before deciding to go public with your opinion on how the article was written, did you do the responsible thing and discuss this with the Sports Communication Department? Did you discuss this with the athletic director, the senior women’s athletic administrator, or with your coach? Misogyny is a very strong, and wrong accusation directed to a group of writers, who I have seen work extremely hard to cover Middlebury teams fairly, accurately, and professionally without bias. It is a mistake to use that word with them and I think an apology should be done publicly in this forum, and personally to them if you are brave enough to do that. There is no “I” in team. They highlight team performances first, then the individuals. Is that your photo? Isn’t there an entire paragraph about you? If it were me, I would be happy with that without feeling the need to read my name in a headline. I feel bad that that department has had to live with reading this article. I think an apology is in order.

  20. The title of the article upset you so much that you felt the need to write your own article about how great your win was and how hard done by you were because they neglected to put your name in the title?! Even though your name is the start of the 3rd sentence and a good chunk of the second paragraph???

    I’m pretty sure winning by almost 4 seconds as a 40 points skier only goes to show how weak the women’s college ski circuit is.

    1. You are listed as anonymous and clearly that is a good idea because you are clearly uneducated about discrimination and very uneducated about ski racing. The collegiate ski racing circuit is the most competitive skiing in North America. Your comment is simply sad.

  21. Caroline-

    Thank you for the article! As a former Dartmouth skier this whole situation makes my blood boil. How hard is it to give women credit where credit is due?! Apparently VERY hard. So proud of you (and Stever!) for fighting for change! We need more women like you to STAND UP AND BE HEARD when they experience micro-aggressions. This kind of thing is happening all around us and while each incident might seem like ‘no big deal’ in isolation- over a lifetime can do serious damage. Middlebury should be building their women up – not keeping them down. Keep skiing fast and claiming your power!!

Leave a Reply