The XX Factor

Quiet, Sweetcakes, Men Are Talking

When my brother really wants to piss me off, he holds up a finger and says, “Shh. Men talking.”

I thought that “quiet, ladies, men are talking” was the sort of antiquated comment now relegated entirely to the realm of sarcasm and sibling needling, until news came out that ESPN announcer Ron Franklin has been suspended for pulling just such a stunt .

Apparently, Franklin was in a Friday meeting with his fellow ESPN announcers Ed Cunningham and Rod Gilmore, and the three were discussing Gilmore’s wife’s election to mayor of Alameda, Calif. Sideline reporter Jeannine Edwards tried to get involved in the conversation, but Franklin tried to shut her out, reportedly saying, “Why don’t you leave this to the boys, sweetcakes.”

When Edwards fumed about being called “sweetcakes,” Franklin suggested she might prefer “asshole.” Edwards rightly complained. Later that day, the two worked together on coverage of the Chik-fil-A Bowl, but Franklin was suspended before the Fiesta Bowl.

Franklin’s dismissive attitude toward female sideline reporters has cropped up before: In 2005, he condescendingly called sideline reporter Holly Rowe “sweetheart” during a Notre Dame-Purdue game.

What’s frustrating about this incident, beyond the fact that Franklin is a sexist fossil, is that many of the sports blogosphere commenters are using this as an opportunity to continue to air complaints about female sideline reporters. On SportsByBrooks, the blog that broke the story, commenters are turning in insightful gender critiques like, “Having women talk about football is like having men describe childbirth” and “So why do we need women calling football? Have we not been feminized enough by now? Ron, show some class. Jeannine, grow a pair.”

To paraphrase Clueless (after all, I am a foolish woman), searching for meaning in Internet comments is as useless as searching for meaning in a Pauly Shore movie. Yet it still bugs.  It seems to have been lost on both Ron Franklin and his supporters that those “boys” were discussing a woman in politics -a realm that is at least more friendly to women than sports reporting.

Photograph of Jeannine Edwards by Jeff Golden/Getty Images.