This just in. A male friend emailed me to ask my thoughts on the whole Gronk lap dance with Julie Stewart-Binks.
Do you blame Gronk for that lap dance? If so, did you get to see the full clip where the female reporter asked him to dance? Is this not one of the most embarrassing things for women in sports, to either have her think “this is what will get me popular” or whether her bosses, etc. requested she be a prop?
Honestly, everyone should have known better.
More specifically, here is everyone who needed to know better.
The producers – That was clearly a part of the show. Don’t front. That was intentional and on purpose and a part of the script. To borrow from Kanye, “FS1 doesn’t care about [women] people,” but what the fuck else is new? Who does? Name a network other than Bravo or Lifetime and I’ll send you an Amazon gift card.*
The talent – Stewart-Binks told him to dance, encouraged him, put dollars in his damn pockets, and then promoted it on her social media feeds. If she doesn’t have standards, no one else is going to have them for her. I promise you that.
The guest – If Gronk is too dumb to have a line he won’t cross, he’s still responsible for backlash when he does something dumb that crosses a line. I’m not sure he thinks it did cross a line. But I also don’t think he thinks a lot about how he could help or hurt women in sports media. I don’t think he thinks a lot at all. Do you think he knows that Syria is a country?
Go On, Go On
I don’t know who is less-more-most responsible. I think they’re all kind of sloppy, cheap hacks as TV entertainment. Now, Gronk is not a sloppy, cheap hack as a tight end, but everyone else is pretty bad at his/her specific job. If nothing else, this will add to his Yo Soy Fiesta brand/legend. Enjoy.
This is where things tend to get a little bit murky and slippery-slopey, so I want to be clear. For me, it’s not a “boys will be boys” and therefore “Gronk will be Gronk” thing, with Gronk being the boyest of all the boys. Yes, we know he’s a big, lovable dummy. But if he had done something truly offensive and egregious to Julie Stewart-Binks (and I concede that others may think this was offensive and egregious, but given the circumstances of her asking him to “show her some Magic Mike,” I’m not one of them), I don’t think he should get off the hook just for being a big, lovable dummy. That’s not fair.
To be clear, I hate the Patriots. And yet, I still don’t think Gronk did this lap dance to demean Stewart-Binks or because he doesn’t respect her. In fact, I think that he would have done that same thing to anyone who wasn’t a small child. I have no way to prove this other than his general pattern of behavior, but I kind of think he would have done that to a Betty White, to a Tom Brady, to a Joe Buck, to a sorority sister/frat bro if dared in the same way. That’s my opinion. I have no way of substantiating that. The comment section is below and I enjoy threats of all kinds.**
But I also think that Gronk is a vestige of a different era of sports, when men were men and tits were tits. Right? We love him because he’s stupid, not in spite of it. We love him because we don’t think he needs to be responsible for anything outside his physical body. Run the route, block the rush, catch the ball, don’t get injured. So, the social impact of his attitude, actions, and demeanor (especially on women***)? That’s not what society is worried about.
(***I’m editorializing here, but this whole piece is an editorial, so it’s not much of an aside.)
And while Gronk is mostly harmless as a singular dummy (not mean-spirited or knowingly disrespectful or oppressive or violent), I also think that thousands of very rapey guys idolize him and would gladly show an unsuspecting woman their cocks and say misogynistic things and chant SHOW YOUR BINKS or whatever. No, Gronk is not responsible for that (in the same way that Eminem isn’t responsible for angry teens and Marilyn Manson isn’t responsible for Columbine). But I’m stumped that we fucking tolerate it as a society.
I think this stunt was exactly what FS1 wanted. And, sadly, I do think Julie Stewart-Binks thinks this will help her career. And if she plays it a certain way, it might. We’re all talking about it and about her, after all.
One last point.
When was the last time a female sports journalist was a part of the national conversation? Did the story center on something about how she looks or what she was wearing or how someone treated her? Was it when someone tried to kiss her on a sideline or put nude hotel photos of her on the internet? And was that the only time anyone cared or even knew her name?