"I hope your boyfriend beats you," reads one tweet
Anybody who’s ever accessed the Internet knows that harassment is everywhere, but very few see the effects those words have on their targets. A new video featuring two Chicago-area female sports journalists aims to change that.
More Than Mean, a video and campaign launched by podcast Just Not Sports on Tuesday shows men reading actual tweets sent to Julie DiCaro, a Sports Illustrated reporter and Sarah Spain, an ESPNW reporter and radio host. These are not the men who sent the tweets but rather volunteers who have been asked to read them, sight unseen, to the women, similar to Jimmy Kimmel‘s Mean Tweets comedy bit.
Like the popular TV segment, the comments read aloud at the beginning of the video are offensive but laughable, ranging from, “Sarah Spain sounds like a nagging wife on TV today,” to “Sarah Spain is just a scrubmuffin.” Initially, both the male readers and the women targeted in the tweets are able to respond or laugh them off.
But just seconds in, the commentary takes a violent turn. “I hope your boyfriend beats you,” reads one tweet. “Hopefully this skank Julie DiCaro is Bill Cosby’s next victim. That would be classic,” reads another.
The men in the video grow visibly uncomfortable, some apologizing and others asking if they really have to read everything they see aloud to the women seated across from them.
“We just told them they’d be reading ‘mean’ comments to reporters but left it at that,” Just Not Sports co-founder Brad Burke told the Chicago Tribune of the volunteers. “They figured it would be like a [Jimmy] Kimmel ‘Mean Tweets’ sketch – funny and amusing – and that s why they were so emotional when comments turned ugly.”
“I hope you get raped again,” reads yet another tweet sent to DiCaro, who opened up about her “astoundingly typical rape” in the Huffington Post following the news that Florida State Quarterback Jameis Winston would not be charged for sexual assault.
Last year, DiCaro stayed home from work after receiving a similar threatening message that contained personal information following comments she made about hockey player Patrick Kane’s sexual assault investigation, according to the Tribune.
“I’m having trouble looking at you saying these things,” one man says. “I don’t think I can even say that,” says another.
This was exactly the point. Brad Burke told the Tribune that the video was created as “a new way to make guys see and experience the effects of online harassment.”
“By reading harassment out loud, men are forced to grapple with the true power behind the words, something that’s often lost on a screen.”