A female columnist writes about football and is told to ‘stay in the kitchen next time’

Albany Times Union
Albany Times Union columnist Jennifer Gish wrote last week that the Buffalo Bills’ 2-0 start “has brought the worst out” in some fans and that “one of you left voicemails for the [Times Union] sports department that would make even a potty mouth like Ron Jaworski blush.” As she always does, Gish put her email address and phone number at the end of the column, headlined “Bills fans need help keeping it real”; this time, though, she added: “Keep it clean, Bills fans.”

As you might guess, they didn’t.

“About a dozen readers called me, most of them leaving voicemail messages in the off-hours, mostly laced with profanity,” Gish tells me. “The response has been quite an awakening to both the world of sports, and honestly, the world.” She reprints some of the emails in today’s column. A few of them:

So how does it feel to be both a woman and so wrong about football? I guess those two go hand in hand.

F*** yourself ya stupid C***, Go Bills!

seen some photos of you and you are as ugly as your story about we bills fans.

YOU SUCK DONKEY D***! That’s why females shouldn’t be allowed to write articles about sports.

Maybe you should stay in the kitchen next time.

Maybe you and ESPN’s Ashley Fox should work on your own “special ed.” power rankings (if you don’t know what I’m referring to I suggest you see how she ranked teams this week).

“I received about 300 emails after the first column, about 40 percent of them were in the tone of those published in today’s column,” Gish says in an email. She continues:

Many of the responses, came from outside of our coverage area, thanks to the dissemination of my column on Bills fan message boards. The tenor of the discussion on those boards was in line with the things said in today’s column. My picture was posted on at least two of the message boards, where my appearance was dissected, as was my need to get “laid.” When it got out that I’d been receiving feedback that included the c-word and other profanity, the overwhelming response on the message boards was that I had it coming.

The woman in me wanted to put this behind me and wait for it to go away. The journalist in me knew I had a responsibility to say something important. I talked to Karen Crouse from the New York Times, who gave me some advice on framing the column in a way that would not come out as defensive, but put the emphasis on the issue at hand. I am very fortunate to work for a newspaper with a supportive sports editor and executive editor, who understood the significance of this situation and were willing to stretch our usual practices for dealing with profanity in the newspaper.

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  • http://womenincorporated.blogspot.com snobographer

    Is that the point? Boys will be boys?

  • http://twitter.com/RHS76 Romelle Slaughter II

    doric44, you don’t get it and you never will. 

  • http://twitter.com/RHS76 Romelle Slaughter II

    doric44, you don’t get it and you never will. 

  • Anonymous

    The content of the “fans’” emails are indefensible. But really, does anyone think this “columnist” is the first one to receive such comments from neanderthal sports followers?

  • http://profiles.google.com/rp509855 Rod Paul

    “… nasty hate filled article…’???

    “I do not think those words mean what you think they mean…”

    Bills fans must have some incredibly thin skins to interpret a reality check as a nuclear assault.

  • http://www.facebook.com/annejohnson09 Anne Elizabeth Galipeau Johnso

    “Goading” has been a normal part of sports talk for a long time.  Are
    women not allowed to participate in that activity?  Given the tone of
    her original article, I’d expect she’d receive some trash talk in
    response, but “YOU SUCK DONKEY D***! That’s why females shouldn’t be allowed to write
    articles about sports.” and “Maybe you should stay in the kitchen next
    time.”??? Men receive attacks on their sexuality and appearance too, but the tone of such responses question her right to even be part of the conversation. Crappy day for gender equality in the land of the free…

  • http://www.facebook.com/annejohnson09 Anne Elizabeth Galipeau Johnso

    “Goading” has been a normal part of sports talk for a long time.  Are
    women not allowed to participate in that activity?  Given the tone of
    her original article, I’d expect she’d receive some trash talk in
    response, but “YOU SUCK DONKEY D***! That’s why females shouldn’t be allowed to write
    articles about sports.” and “Maybe you should stay in the kitchen next
    time.”??? Men receive attacks on their sexuality and appearance too, but not like this.  Its a crappy day to be a woman.

  • http://www.facebook.com/annejohnson09 Anne Elizabeth Galipeau Johnso

    “Goading” has been a normal part of sports talk for a long time.  Are
    women not allowed to participate in that activity?  Given the tone of
    her original article, I’d expect she’d receive some trash talk in
    response, but “YOU SUCK DONKEY D***! That’s why females shouldn’t be allowed to write
    articles about sports.” and “Maybe you should stay in the kitchen next
    time.”??? Men receive attacks on their sexuality and appearance too, but not like this.  Its a crappy day to be a woman.

  • Anonymous

    she wrote a nasty hate filled article about a sports fan base..it was intended to provoke that exact response back.
     and she cant  cry foul because  some people went too far in their reply’s  she started the fight.  she cant complain about the results .  if she cant take it  maybe she should write about non sports related themes that don’t evoke such an emotional response

  • Anonymous

    This is typical. This person read those things (presumably) and nevertheless decided to see them as equivalent to what the columnist had written … “her level.”

    If he represents the fan base, which I presume he does, they are indeed delusional.

  • Anonymous

    Yes. It’s the fans of a particular team that are the problem. Fans of all other teams are very classy, “intelligent,” and well-behaved. 

    Seriously, is there a team out there that doesn’t have people saying how awful they are, with the implication that other fans are somehow better? 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_M5ZFVTENPMMNE7Y3D2ONDHCS64 jcydking

    yay, another fluff piece by the Times Union, great if you need to start a fire though…

  • Anonymous

    I would not worry to much about the fans of Buffalo. They are not the most intelligent and have a hard time responding to sports columnist such as Gish. Hell my wife knows more about football than most men. I was ask not to bring her along because she was constantly correcting them. LMAO women can report football and should. The problem with Buffalo fans they can not handle success and attack anything derogatory.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Nora-Best/1125982949 Nora Best

    You’re missing the point.  It was not her attack on the Bills.  It was the derogatory responses of the “fans”.  The blatant sexual bias as a means of insulting her opinion is what people are up in arms about.  When you tell a woman to get back into the kitchen or that her opinion is worthless based on her gender, you open a whole different can of worms and move beyond a criticism of her writing.  You call who she is as a person into question; something that hardly anyone does when these same opinions, right or wrong, come from a man.

  • Anonymous

    you talk about class Jennifer Gish has none.

      her article  wasn’t constructive criticism or an observation. it was condescending and mean spirited and she attacked.  she  threw the first punch.  what did she expect by calling a fan base delusional… puppies and sugar  as a response? and now she cries foul  because some fans lowered themselves to her level..and took the bait

    her 15 min of fame will be over soon  and we can all go back to not caring what she said

  • http://www.facebook.com/mildmannered Ashok Selvam

    Punishment (classlessness, bigotry) didn’t fit the offense (mundane column). But when you enter into the arena of newspaper-reading sports fans, civility and rationality aren’t expected. She should stick with it, become better, and shut the jerks up. Her follow-up column wasn’t something to look forward to, but it had to be written. Readers who write in need to know, despite their sense of entitlement as “customers,” that they go over the line sometimes. There’s also a misconception, male sports writers are ripped on for their looks. But there no measure of sexism involved, so that isn’t fair making it apples to apples.

    Also keep in mind this is Albany, and “real” Buffalo fans won’t accept her acumen. That’s important to understand where the blind rage stems from.

  • http://twitter.com/imbwf Brian Fullford

    So much for class, right? Obviously Bills Fan doesn’t know how to respond other than with personal attacks. Apparently the article disclosed some truth.

  • Anonymous

    You stay classy, Buffalo!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Marc-Levy/1332321421 Marc Levy

    I confess to being surprised at the folks here defending the offensive comments and blaming the columnist. The comments are inexcusably misogynist and stupid and sound like the work of bullies and idiots — or the usual weaklings who use anonymity to feel strong.

  • http://www.facebook.com/juliestroebel Julie Elizabeth Stroebel

    This comes down to an issue of people not knowing how to frame a constructive counter-argument. They read something that offends them and rather than frame a counter-argument, they resort to petty name calling and statements that hold all the water a sieve would hold. The “you’re a woman” argument discredits the readers and only reinforces her original point.

  • Anonymous

    she needs to get  some  thicker skin. you cant  cry victim when you kick open a hornets nest and complain because you got stung. grow up Jennifer Gish

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ETRUUP4QRILCUP2BLAIJWUBBOI Cory

    She purposely goaded a fanbase to elicit a venomous response (all the
    while mocking the people gracious enough to give her quotes for her
    piece), then flipped the “hate mail” into a victim piece that included
    the stereotypical “women can’t get any respect in a man’s world” claim.
    Shame on her. I won’t defend the disgusting things sent her way, but I
    cannot feel sorry for her after reading both her original piece and her
    response.

  • Anonymous

    Not quite sure what the shock and lack of understanding here is all about…She bashes the Bills fans, comes off sounding “kind of all over the place” and naive with it, and then posts her email and phone number at the end of the article, with it available on the internet?  What did she expect?  Flowers delivered to her house?  Candygrams? She’s lucky she’s not getting calls at all hours of the night, for her “free washer & dryer” along with multiple ads in the Casual Encounters section up on Craigslist,

  • Anonymous

    I
    admit to being more than casual reader of the current Bills Fans
    vs.Columnist dustoff. My son was interviewed in the original story and I
    have worked in newsrooms in many capacities from clerk, editorial
    assistant, reporter, reviewer, columnist and editor. I would offer these
    observations:
    From the first moment any man or woman heads out into the public with a reporter’s notebook in hand you are a jerk to someone.
    Once
    you enter the column writing game you’re an even bigger target for
    those whose views differ from yours.  If you continue in journalism, you
    learn to deal. In many cases you have to take the high road and move
    on.

    Publishing the vulgar rants of classless readers without a balance of
    level headed commentary does nothing more than make the writer seem self
    pitying. The boorish writers would have been just as vitriolic had the
    writer been male. Being female merely gave them a few more crude
    adjectives to use.
    It
    is regrettable that such a meaningful accomplishment by a much maligned
    team has been diminished by the careless words of a few.
    Please read this very thoughtful response to the original column.
    http://www.albanybillsbackers.com/old-media/

  • Anonymous

    She says this behavior represents a tiny number of fans, but she also says that “the overwhelming response on the message boards was that I had it coming.”

    The fact is that in no other field of human endeavor, save perhaps for politics, does one find this level of horrific behavior. If it was really a tiny minority, we wouldn’t see daily, sometimes hourly, accounts of stuff like this. No moviegoers, for example, beat people into comas for liking the wrong movie.

  • http://twitter.com/cmh5142 Cassandra Hallacker

    So funny because let’s be honest A. this would never happen to a guy if for some crazy reason it did B. They would never comment on their physical appearance etc., Try to remember your mothers, sisters, daughters when spewing your venom.