* (This post is not the first one on the topic, and was written partly in response to comments in earlier posts, so please realize that if you linked here from somewhere else.)
I'm not sure what someone means by saying it doesn't pass a journalism litmus test - is there such a thing?
Suffice it to say, after games, I have multiple stories to write, and I need to get comments quickly. Per MLS policy, the locker rooms are open after the official press conference. Since the Crew had beaten the Galaxy shorthanded, player reaction was extremely important, so when the official word was given that the Crew locker room was open, I only stayed outside their door for a few comments from Sigi Schmid before following a couple of other reporters inside.
Once inside, I recognized Chilean defender Marcos Gonzalez. He looked startled to see me, but that's not unusual, especially among Hispanic athletes, who don't see a lot of women covering sports. He had a towel wrapped around him, and that followed the mostly covered up rule, so I started to approach him, thinking it would be good to ask him about Guillermo's addition to the team - from a South American perspective. However, he had the weirdest look on his face as I got closer, so I changed my mind and decided to interview instead. Ned was across the room, so I turned my back on Gonzalez and walked away from him, to where a couple of other reporters were stationed in front of Ned's locker. Incidently, Ned had a towel, too. I placed my recorder in front of Ned and waited my turn to ask a question.
Suddenly I heard Gonzalez calling out, "Miss, miss," in Spanish. Next thing I know is not only had he crossed the room to where I was, but he had taken a hold of my elbow and was trying to steer me out the door. He told me, in Spanish, that he didn't feel comfortable with a woman in the locker room and that I needed to leave right away. None of the other reporters knew Spanish, so they didn't know what he was talking about, because I was trying to ignore him. He raised his voice and pushed my shoulder to get my attention. In Spanish, I told Gonzales that I needed locker room access and that I was there to do my job. It didn't faze him - he countered with an offer for me to interview players outside or to come back in after everyone was dressed.
I shook my head and he began to rant about how unreasonable I was being, how he couldn't get dressed with me in the room, etc. I pulled free and tried to get back to my interview. Gonzales kept yelling at me. No one did anything. In hindsight, I was so shaken up, I didn't process that he was speaking Spanish most of the time, and they could have not realized what was going on. He actually switched to English at one point, saying "Not here, you must go outside, now."
I was extremely uncomfortable, and yet I was only trying to do my job. Finally he went away.
Here's the thing where the "God wants modesty" argument falls flat. Players can easily be modest. In the locker room towels are abundant. Players will often come out of the showers with a towel wrapped around their torso, and just pull both their underwear and their pants on before pulling the towel off. It's not that hard, and no one sees anything that one wouldn't see on a public beach. Some players who might worry that a towel could drop off at this maneuver just come out with the towel wrapped around themselves, grab their pants and underwear and go back around the corner towards the shower (no such thing as shower access to the media) to put that on quickly before returning to the locker room. The visitors locker room has a coaches room off to the side that a player could duck into if he's extremely shy.
But even if all that fails, if the wrong moment absolutely happens and a towel drops just as I'm looking around for someone to interview, I think it's crap to pull out the "I've sinned in the eyes of God excuse" and that justifies trying to force someone from doing their job. Come on, if a friend is visiting and walks into the wrong bathroom at the wrong time, is that anything like cheating? What if all the male reporters in the locker room are gay? Do they get a pass on the assumption that that isn't true?
Think about it. You're at work, trying to do your job and someone comes up to you and starts yelling at you to get out, to go away. You'd be completely calm? You'd think that was fine, acceptable behavior because they don't want God mad at them?
I had a hard time focusing after that, and had trouble even remembering what questions I was going to ask. I left quickly after my last interview, since I still had to get quotes from the Galaxy. I forgot completely that I'd been hoping to talk to Guille about joining MLS and helping the Crew.
"Hola senorita," said a quiet voice as I stalked out of the locker room. I didn't turn around, or respond, because I just wanted to get out of there. Only when I was already out in the hallway did I think, "Hey, that might have been Guille, and I was just kind of rude because I'm so upset. Damn it."