#ErinAndrews: If Your Focus Is More On The $55 Million Verdict, You Are Part of the Problem

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If you see the title and then roll your eyes or utter the words, “Oh God…here’s another guy supporting women’s rights and trying to get laid,” or even want to say that Erin needs to “get over it,” then stop reading right now. You don’t have the intelligence or the maturity to continue. Do so at your own risk.

By now, many of us have learned that sportscaster Erin Andrews has been awarded $55 million by a Nashville jury for a stalking incident in 2008 by a man named Michael David Barrett. Barrett filmed Andrews through altered peepholes in her hotel rooms at the Nashville Marriott adjacent Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, and the Radisson Airport Hotel in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. On July 16, 2009, one of these videos, in which Andrews appeared totally nude, was posted online and quickly went viral.

55 MILLION DOLLARS. 55 MILLION DOLLARS. Just saying that aloud makes is sure to get some kind of reaction, no matter what the reason. In this case, it’s the result of a lawsuit.

Don’t get me wrong. I despise frivolous lawsuits, which in this day and age, happens way too often, especially with some of the amounts being sought after. This quickly reminds me of a lawsuit filed in 2006 by a man named Allen Heckard, who sued Michael Jordan and Nike for $862 million dollars, saying that he found it “distressing to be mistaken for the basketball star.” Being mistaken for MICHAEL JORDAN of all people? I’m not sure that would be the worst thing that could ever happen to me.

Hell, that would be like me suing actor Shemar Moore for some ridiculous amount and then saying that I was “distressed to be mistaken for him.” Mistaken for Shemar Moore? My friends and faithful readers…that’s way I like to call one of those “good” problems to have.

However, in this case, I have a hard time focusing squarely on the amount Andrews was awarded, because I can’t help but think of how we got to this point. Now much of the public will make their decisions based on this or that, which ultimately doesn’t help anything. Some will look at Andrews, see a very attractive woman and decide based on that alone. Some will say that as a sportscaster who is obviously constantly around men, that she “asked for this” in some way. Some will, low and behold, decide based on whether they “like” her or not.

Grown adults doing this? Making decisions on non-factual evidence and biased personal feelings? Say it isn’t so!

I personally consider myself to be an average-looking man. I don’t get hit on that often. As someone who is honestly quite bashful at times, I’ll admit that in the rare times I do get “hit on” (even though my claims it does happen more often than that), it’s flattering.

However, to kill that whole “she’s attractive and she asked for it” nonsense, even enjoying the attention I sometimes receive doesn’t mean that I would EVER ask to be stalked in anything close to the manner that Andrews was.

I’m sure that Andrews wouldn’t mind a compliment here and there. Of course, that’s not a guaranteed thing, but if a man approached her or spoke to her in a respectful manner, I couldn’t imagine that she would have a problem with being complimented that way. But in no way does that equate to being “okay” with things transpiring the way they did.

Much of society has this ridiculous notion that every man in the world would be okay with a woman stalking them. That could not be further from the truth. The main reason is that there is a LOT more to stalking than just receiving a compliment.

I certainly would never try and pretend to understand what Andrews went through and how she felt during all this. There is absolutely no way I could begin to understand. But what people have to realize about stalking in any way is that it goes way deeper than just being told that you’re attractive.

I’d like to believe that we all value our privacy to some extent, especially when it comes to showering, dressing and undressing. Even if you aren’t all that concerned with it for yourself, I’m positive that there are times it means more to you than others. Think about the times privacy means the most to you.

Anyone who has had their privacy violated (and I’m not talking about those of you who cry about Facebook privacy settings; not nearly the same thing, and yes, someone did put the the two together) knows the crippling feeling that leaves you with. The one time you want to be totally left alone and shielded from the world and not only does one asshole feel you aren’t entitled to that, but he also feels these private moments should be broadcast on the internet for the world to see. I can’t even begin to imagine how horrifying that has to be for someone to go through.

By now, all anyone can see is the dollar amount. But here’s my problem. For those of you who feel that amount is “too much,” tell me…what is the “proper” dollar amount for being stalked in that way? What is a “good” amount for having your privacy not only violated, but recorded and posted for the world to see? What amount would be “sufficient”?

As I saw from a lot of the responses, no one really knows. All they’re going to do is compare is to other incidents (apples and oranges) and how much people have been awarded in those cases. For example, one person said to the effect, “Wrongful death lawsuits only get…” and then some lesser amount. For one, every lawsuit is different and there are many factors involved, which affect the dollar amounts and the outcomes.

And two, again…apples and oranges. Certain events have more lasting effects than others. I still remember when the news that this happened with Andrews broke back then and the responses many people gave. As much as I wished they stayed along the lines of it simply being wrong for this man to have done this, everything else was thrown out there, basically saying that her privacy doesn’t matter as much as it should.

I don’t care about the money. I care about living in a society in which it seems to be so easy to minimize wrongdoing. All it takes is for a woman to win a $55 million lawsuit and we instantly dismiss what has happened to her. None of us live in her shoes every day. All we see is what’s shown on the news. Pair that up with our personal biases and opinions about this and that, and this is how we proceed. Very little concern anymore about the incident at hand, which no dollar amount in the world could possibly erase.

Accepting responsibility for ones’ actions is something we just can’t seem to do these days. There’s always a “way out,” or someone and something that bails out those who need to take that responsibility. Then we’re talking about a woman’s rights. God forbid anyone have the nerve to give a damn about that; well, of course, except us average-looking, bashful, middle-aged men who are ONLY looking to get laid.

Maybe if these men and everyone making excuses for them (which include men AND women, believe it or not) would learn to accept responsibility in FULL, then people like Erin Andrews wouldn’t feel the need to have to sue, again, no matter the dollar amount. But we have reached a point in our society where as usual, women are valued and lesser than they are, and when men do things like this, only a certain amount have a problem with it. The focus has become more on the jury verdict and less on what happened to Andrews, which is what I expected when I first read about this news a few hours ago.

The sad thing is, this is exactly the reason I truly feel that we really have not advanced as a society when it comes to women’s rights because of how people have quickly dismissed the incident or are minimizing it in favor of the $55 million verdict. It’s more about how Andrews looks, what she does for a living and how much she sued for than it is about what a GROWN MAN decided it was his right to do, which is violate a woman’s privacy, along with hotel chains who were grossly negligent in their duties to protect the privacy of ALL their guests.

Some may think about the verdict and say “Did she really need that much”? Personally, I’m glad she won. Will this give Andrews back what she lost? Absolutely not. She can never get that back. But this certainly gets the attention of those companies who decide that a woman’s rights aren’t that important. It gets the attention of those men out there who decide that someone’s privacy is open for them to do whatever they wish and will likely make many of them think twice.

See, this is not only a victory for Erin Andrews. This is a victory for those who have been stalked in the past and may unfortunately be stalked in the future. This lets them know that this won’t be tolerated. Hell, it may actually prevent a few from happening. No, it won’t stop them all, sadly and of course, people will still remain in their childish, immature and disgusting “she asked for it” mindsets.

But if you didn’t know who Erin Andrews was…you do now. If you didn’t know what took place that led to this…you do now. She has helped to bring a very serious problem to the forefront of our minds, even if for a short period of time.

When things like this happen, the first thing some like to say to those making excuses is, “Well imagine if this happened to your daughter, mother, sisters, etc.”

The bottom line is that if you need for something like this to happen to any of them before you realize it’s wrong, then you are part of the problem. Period.

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