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Over the weekend, a random troll named “Charles Brown” emailed ESPN’s Mina Kimes to question whether she’s qualified to discuss the NFL, which consists entirely of male players.
“Mina, stop embarrassing yourself and pretending to actually know anything about male sports,” the email begins. “The only reason you’re at ESPN is due to affirmative action. Jeff Saturday must privately feel so emasculated having to pretend to have an intellectual back and forth about professional football with someone wearing lipstick and high heels. Viewers see you as a bad joke that they’re forced into enduring.”
Why did Kimes feel the need to share this particular piece of hate mail? She claims that doing so empowers young women and makes them aware of what women covering sports face regularly.
“I get asked by women every day whether it’s normal, and I want people to see: It never ends and it has absolutely nothing to do you with [SIC],” Kimes explains on Twitter.
Of course, that’s only an excuse. Kimes’ need to publicize this email is sad. Kimes wanted her colleagues, bosses, and other potential critics to know that she’s a victim — that even though ESPN pays her well above her market value and promotes her above her success rate, she’s been bullied.
And Kimes received the exact reaction she expected to get.
Verified Twitter accounts quote-tweeted Kimes’ screenshot, claiming that it proves that fans bully female sports pundits. Kimes then trended on Twitter with fancy hashtags, like #GirlPower. But Kimes’ gender has nothing to do with the number of crude comments she receives.
The truth is, random and often anonymous online users send hosts and journalists belittling comments all the time. Have you ever seen Skip Bayless’ Twitter mentions? Nearly every day, people tell him he’s too old to have a job or not important enough to live. People do the same to Dave Portnoy, Stephen A. Smith, Colin Cowherd — all of whom receive daily comments telling them to off themselves and none of whom are female.
Kimes is no different, except for the fact that she is female. ESPN chose to make a 36-year-old woman the focal point of its daily NFL coverage. Ergo she must now accept the drawbacks of the territory as well as the perks.
However, there is one difference between Kimes and Bayless, Portnoy, Smith, and Cowherd. As a woman, Kimes can use nasty comments as leverage. And, man, will she.
Kimes didn’t post the email to empower women but to empower herself — to show ESPN that while she may appreciate her meteoric rise from ESPN Magazine writer to lead NFL analyst, she wants more. And as a victim, she can now take aim at someone above her and claim rights to his job. Brian Griese, you have been warned.
Mina Kimes is talented and bright. She had a path to success on those qualities alone. But talent and smarts are not how ESPN builds stars.
It pays better to be a victim than an overachiever. Kimes knows that well. So does her agent, who will convince ESPN to take a stand against sexism by paying Kimes more and perhaps giving her an even larger role on another NFL studio show.
Sorry, Alex Smith, someone who looks like you has already had his day. So move out of the way. ESPN can see the tweet now: “‘We named Mina Kimes the first female analyst of the NFL Draft,’ ESPN said in a statement to The Athletic.”
Mina Kimes wants you to know she is a victim, and some random email from Charlie Brown proves it. ESPN saw it and will now cater to her future demands. Kimes is lucky to have Charles Brown.