You probably wouldn’t guess it from my online presence, but I’m a rather introverted person. I don’t like my business out there, I don’t like to be the center of attention and I’m a much better follower than leader. Therefore over the past two weeks when I found myself elbow deep in a “fight” that I never intended to enter, I retreated a little. But after letting it marinate with me this weekend, and after some very encouraging emails, I will be silent no more.
Like most people, I’d like to think of myself as open minded. I’m a rather “pc” person. In my house, my rules, certain words aren’t spoken. But in your house, your rules, say what you want. I don’t like it when people try to tell me what to do, and therefore I don’t think I have any right to tell others what to do. So what follows is not me trying to make the world fit my beliefs; I wanted to voice my opinion.
By now most people are aware of the Ask Vic column titled, “Women Say the Darndest Things” that appeared two weeks ago at packers.com. Vic Ketchman, the Packers blogger, writes his Ask Vic column multiple times a week and answers questions from Packer fans around the globe. Vic’s style from the start has been truly his own. He is knowledgeable, but he is also abrasive. With a rather dry sense of humor many of his quips can come off short or condescending. His columns never really appealed to me for that reason. I can make myself feel stupid on my own; I don’t need anyone’s help. His Women Say the Darndest things column wasn’t much different from his daily repertoire except that he only took published questions from women. I probably would have never even known about this column, if it wasn’t for following @packers on twitter. They tweeted the title; I was surprised.
So I followed the link and read the blog. It was in his same style. A couple of his attempts at humor that didn’t sit well with me, but my real problem was with the title. Yes, I have seen Kids Say the Darndest Things. It was a funny show. It was funny because the host, Crosby or Linkletter, would ask kids questions and the kids would give a funny answer because they didn’t know any better, and we would all laugh. I found this montage on YouTube this morning. Hysterical TV, but let’s be honest, it’s because the kids don’t know any better, not because we’re actually taking the time to listen to their concerns or because we think they know what they’re talking about.
So when I saw the title of the blog, my first thought wasn’t, as some commenters have believed it should have been, “Thank you so much for paying attention to little ol’ me over here.” My reaction was, “I’m not a child. And I really don’t say the darndest things.
So I went to the comments sections and put, "what an awful name for a post! women say the darndest things? Reads sexist.” That’s it. I feel that comment to be fair. To me, a female avid sports fan, who feels like I fight daily to get people to take me seriously, that title read as sexist. Are the Packers sexist? No. Is Vic sexist? I don’t know him. But the title offended me.
What followed was pretty typical for blog comments. Myself and fellow upset females were berated by commenters. Enough people disliked my original comment that it was removed from the website. (The process for removing the comment was made clear to me in a letter from the Packers which I will address later).
I felt miserable that day. Dragged over coals for having an opinion. It has always been my belief that I am really in no place to tell someone else if something did or did not offend them. Like beauty, pain and offense is also in the eye of the beholder. It is formed from your experiences, and is not the same for everyone. In my mind, I had said my peace and thought that would be it.
It wasn’t though. For the next couple of days, Vic continued to answer questions regarding the fall out. Most of them painting me, and anyone who took issue with the title or column, in a very negative light. I still sat on my hands and hoped the whole thing would just stop. On September 6th, a full week after the original column, without continual commenting from me or any of the women that I know who were offended Vic received, published and responded to this question:
I read that Aaron Rodgers actually received hate mail after Favre left and some have been less than kind to you. Can we assume these people are Bears or Vikings fans and should they be asked to step up and admit it, so they are not confused with true fans?
Bears fans and Vikings fans say the darndest things.
Now not only was my simple opinion being dismissed, it was being mocked. It hurt. To be completely honest, it hurt a lot. I love the Packers. I love the Packers a lot. I love the Packers like they are extended members of my family. To feel that because I had a differing and valid opinion that my loyalty was questioned, mocked and dismissed stung in a way that I cannot fully describe. So instead of starting another comment war, as if you are a Vic reader you probably had noticed that during the time since the “Women…” article that comments have been more than unkind, and a hostile place. I decided to take my cause up with the Packers organization themselves.
What follows is my letter to them, in its entirety. Note, not once did I ask for Vic to be fired, or resort to name calling or quick one liners. I simply wanted my opinion actually heard and registered. And for the jabs at me and other women who were offended to cease.
September 6, 2011
Dear My Green Bay Packers:
My name is Jayme Joers and I, like many people who I’m sure write you daily, am a lifelong, die hard Packers fan. I don’t remember a time in my life when my world wasn’t consumed with the Packers; childhood family memories merge into Packers games in my head.
I was one of the people who took issue with the recent title of an Ask Vic blog, “Women say the darndest thing.” I feel my concern was valid, and I commented on his blog that I did not like the title and that it reads sexist. I feel that comment is fair and just, yet that comment was deleted and somehow I have become the butt of jokes on his blogs, and your site. And that pains me.
It has now turned from a small issue with the title of that column, to an almost daily joke. A fan will write in mocking mine and other readers concerns and Vic will reply in kind. The most recent being comparing myself and others to Bears and Vikings fans – since we obviously can’t love the Packers because we had a problem with a blog title. To which Vic responded “Bears and Vikings fans say the darndest things.” What a slap in the face!
The Packers have always been a unique organization and it honestly saddens me that I no longer feel welcomed at the Packers website nor appreciated as a fan. Do I have to blindly love everything written to be appreciated as a fan? Do I have to forgo any of my beliefs of equality and equal representation to be a true fan? I hope not.
I don’t believe Vic needed to do a “Ladies Day” column, why should he? We’re all fans. The Packers have perhaps the most dedicated and intelligent fan base in all of the NFL, and now I feel that the website is laughing at me and mocking me. That is not the Packers organization that I grew up loving, that I have spent thousands of dollars to support, and that I myself blog about. The simple reaction that I should have been grateful that Vic took the time to acknowledge women fans and should have overlooked him comparing women to children is not acceptable in this day and age.
Vic and fans had a right to respond to my comment, but when is enough enough? How many more times do I have to go to Packers.com for information on my team to read that I do not love my team and that I am unintelligent, etc. These might not be Vic’s statements but by continuing to answer questions regarding the issue and how we’re not true fans or were out of line, he is continuing to alienate myself and other fans.
I love the Packers honestly more than I like some of the people in my life. It pains me when someone tries to change that. I thought if I just let it go it would be okay, but it was made clear to me in today’s Ask Vic, that I am not welcome at packers.com. I am asking for this to change. I am asking to be allowed to be a fan and support my team. I am asking to be appreciated for my support and fandom.
I will let you be the judge of my letter. I felt it was honest, concise and stated my opinion well.
Last week Friday, the 9th, I received an email back from the Director of the Packers Media Group and Vic’s boss. I will not post the entirety of the email here, as I didn’t not alert the sender that publishing their email was a possibility. I will say that they did explain the reason for the removal of my comments and said that it was an NFL platform and that they would work to republish the removed comments. I do not agree with the policy that allows readers to remove other people’s comments, but at least it was an explanation.
As for my other concerns they largely went unaddressed. It was explained to me that the intent was not to harm anyone, but was a play on words. Which lets be real here, I already knew that.
I felt deflated after the email. And spent most of Friday night and Saturday away from twitter and Packers talk for that reason. Like I said earlier, I received some very encouraging emails from people who were aware of my original letter and the response.
What I have found is that my concern was largely ignored. If they want to stand by company line and say that the title is not offensive (which I don’t believe it is solely up to them to judge), that’s their prerogative, but I do sincerely wish they would have addressed why the women who took offense were allowed to be continually mocked with in his posts.
Yes the Packers are more than Vic’s blog, and yes I can visit the site and never have to read his column again. But the issue itself and lack of a full response has me hurting. This team is a part of me. And now that connection feels worn a little thin.
I will not stop cheering for the team, but I will say that this whole experienced open my eyes a lot.
Like I said at the beginning, I don’t like to be the center of attention or the poster child for anything. I have said my piece, I have shared it with you, and now I wish to end it. I am not fighting just for fighting’s sake.
This morning I purchased my plane tickets to Green Bay for the Rams game and hope from here on out to direct all my Packers thoughts to the glory of being undefeated and trying to put the hurtin’ on Cam Newton.
Thanks for reading.