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COLUMN: Emcee’s comment to women’s basketball team was out of line

Photo by Andrew Himmelberg

Photo by Andrew Himmelberg

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“If any of y’all need massages after the game, if any of you ladies need massages, I got y’all … Not for the dudes, though, not for the dudes! Only for the girls.”

It’s not often that people cringe so hard that they have to physically look away, but both I and the people around me were at that point after local DJ Promise said those words at Marquette Madness Friday.

It wouldn’t stop, either. He said a little bit of it, gauged the nonexistent crowd reaction, and somehow thought it would be a good idea to keep going. The whole painful exercise lasted approximately 15 seconds.

This night was supposed to be in large part a celebration of the women’s basketball team. The team just received its BIG EAST championship rings and played a fairly entertaining scrimmage. Enthusiasm about the program is at an all-time high. In an ideal world, tonight would’ve been an advertisement to Marquette’s fan base to come check out the team.

Instead, the entire team stood there at center court, unable to respond, while a guy with a microphone essentially cat-called them.

It’s possible that they took it as a joke, brushed the comment off, or simply didn’t hear it. However, there doesn’t seem to be any difference between what Promise did and a stranger whistling at a woman as she walks by on the street. Both are unsolicited, both treat the woman as a sex object instead of a person and both would, I imagine, generate some level of discomfort for the woman.

This week, in the wake of the sexual harassment allegations against film producer Harvey Weinstein, a writer named Anne Donahue started a Twitter thread asking fellow women for stories of sexual harassment experiences. Donahue’s came as a 17-year-old co-op student, when a man insisted on massaging her shoulders at work, which isn’t that far removed from Promise’s comments during Madness.

This isn’t to say that Promise is a malicious person or set out to disrespect the women’s team. The most probable explanation is he was trying to be entertaining and in the course of doing so, made a quip that went over the line.

It’s still important to call these kinds of comments out, though, and it’s vital the athletic department do so as well. To stand pat in this situation, to cringe a little bit then move on, is a tacit endorsement, a reduction of misogyny to simply a joke that didn’t land. Although there’s no reason to believe Marquette Athletics could have done anything to prevent the incident, it did happen in its building and at its showcase event. They now bear the responsibility of publicly stating that such comments won’t be tolerated.

 

UPDATE (October 7, 2:55 p.m.): Bill Scholl, the university’s athletic director, released the following statement in response to this column:

“Last night was a remarkable celebration of our athletics teams at Marquette Madness, and we appreciate the support from our fans and the Marquette community who packed the Al McGuire Center. After the women’s team scrimmage, we were sorry to hear some remarks made by an outside emcee who was hired for the event. We apologize for these remarks that were both disrespectful and unacceptable. Marquette athletics is and always will be a place where all of our student-athletes and surrounding community members are to be treated with respect.”

Promise, the DJ of last night’s event, sent out a tweet apologizing for the comments.

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1 Comment

One Response to “COLUMN: Emcee’s comment to women’s basketball team was out of line”

  1. Beth on October 8th, 2017 11:50 am

    DJ Promise, like so many men just don’t get it. Women are not here as tools for your visual or personal physical gratification. By taking a public event to showcase your homophobia and ignorant sexist manners you have disgraced yourself and done a disservice to the people who hired you.

    If you were paid for the event I hope you have the decency to return the money. You failed at your job.

    America’s viewpoints regarding the true value of women and lesbian gay people has got to change. We all have value.

    [Reply]

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