FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | April 13, 2007
CBS Actions Mark New Era of Respect for
Women's Sports: A Statement from NCLR Sports Project Director Helen Carroll
(San Francisco, CA, April 13, 2007) — When Don Imus, father of all shock jocks and host of the nationally syndicated CBS Radio show, "Imus in the Morning," spewed hateful stereotypes throughout his commentary on the NCAA Women's Basketball Championship, he crossed a line. That was nothing new, but what was new-and commendable-was the heads of MSNBC and CBS took action.
On April 3, 2007 in the NCAA championship game, the Scarlet Knights played the Tennessee Lady Vols. It was a great game and a true display of outstanding athleticism. But the noteworthy achievements of two of the finest college women's basketball teams were overshadowed by Mr. Imus' toxic combination of racism, misogyny, and homophobia. Mr. Imus referred to the Rutgers players as "nappy headed hos" and criticized them for being "rough girls" with "tattoos," insinuating that there must be something terribly wrong for women to show such power and strength. In contrast, he informed his listeners, "The girls from Tennessee, they all look cute."
These are attitudes that the National Center for Lesbian Rights Sports Project combats on a daily basis. Mr. Imus simply put a national face on the problem. The intersection of racism, sexism, homophobia, and gender stereotyping is a severe problem for everyone in women's sports. Every day, we are losing good female coaches who are replaced by men. Young athletes who are women of color must run a gauntlet of insulting abuse. And gender stereotyping fuels the homophobia that keeps lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender athletes in the closet and poisons the atmosphere for all athletes.
We have come a long way. The entire nation engaged in a dialogue, and most agreed that Mr. Imus' hateful statements were unacceptable. Then, GM, Staples, American Express, and Proctor and Gamble pulled their ads from the show. MSNBC dropped the "Imus in the Morning" television simulcast from its lineup. While initially CBS gave Mr. Imus a token wrist slap by suspending him for two weeks, they then took true action. They fired him, and by doing so, they joined MSNBC in raising the bar for broadcast media by refusing to broadcast hate.
But the true accountability rests with Mr. Imus. His insincere apology isn't satisfactory. I hope he has the sense to put down his microphone for good and realize his shock jock commentary isn't entertaining-it is unacceptable bigotry.
Coach Vivian Stringer and her players deserve nothing less than full dignity and respect. Coach Stringer said she was training leaders, as well as basketball players. She and the Scarlet Knights have demonstrated true leadership and grace in the aftermath of Mr. Imus' rant. These young women are guiding us to a truth that is too often elusive-equality is a right for all.
NCLR's Sports Project works to level the playing field for all athletes. We will remain vigilant with education, advocacy, and litigation when needed. We will stand alongside the Scarlet Knights and all who suffer such abuse. NCLR is committed to changing the landscape that Imus perpetuates to one of equality for everyone in sport.
Helen J. Carroll
Sports Project Director
National Center for Lesbian Rights
The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.