As a female sports columnist, I get some very special mail. A comment we recently unapproved on UmpBump is just the beginning:
“go back to the kitchen and make some grilled cheeze sammiches for your 3 kids.. youre the reason why there are gays in this world.”
But this is nothing new. Every columnist gets harsh feedback—I’ve gotten my fair share of hostile “you’re a moron” and “please just quit” letters, along with legitimate corrections and disagreements, and along with, quite frankly, a ton of supportive email from appreciative readers. But I—and every other female columnist out there, I promise you—also get an earful in another, special category of reader mail. Thanks to Gmail, I have an easily searchable archive of all my reader mail. A few simple clicks, and I can bring you this small sampling from that aforementioned special category. Each is a letter I’ve received from a real, live reader of my column in the Boston Metro:
“You shouldn’t be writing about sports, go back to the kitchhen.”
“go back to the kitchen cunt.”
“you’re just a freelance writer who never made it to the big time. Hahaha. Silly bitch.”
“Utterly uninsightful, completely devoid of any creativity and extremely poorly written. You girls should stick to something you know better and stop trying to be sports writers. You’re terrible.”
“Sarah, Baseball is and always has been a Male sport. The sooner you realize that, the better off you’ll be. I’m not saying woman don’t enjoy the sport, or that they shouldn’t attempt to write about it. They just havent made any impact on the sport. And I hate to say it, but sports in general. Mia Hamm has done great things for female soccer and the USA Hockey team is always very respectable. Beyond that? It doesnt matter how many books you read about baseball, games you attend,stats you comb through. The bottom line is , you can’t play. And don’t think I’m saying you have toplay to make an impact (I’m a big Bill James fan) , but don’t walk around with your hand on your hip like you’ve earned respect. You have not. Good Luck with your Metro career.”
Then there are the backhanded compliments:
“Love your work. Most women sportswriters don’t get stuff.”
And the just plain creepy stuff:
“Sarah Baby, I read your post on the METRO paper… You look so good. So deliciously yummy, with that nice sexy slim body… Mouth Watering..”
But of all the most memorable letters I’ve received, I think this one takes the cake:
I’m a regular reader of the Metro while eating lunch and always pay particular attention to the Sports section. I find your columns to be somwhat entertaining and informed, but really I always seem to end up coming back to the same question- are you hot? I remember a couple of years ago the little picture next your column was just a profile and you definitely appeared to very cute/borderline hot, but now with that full body thing that they have it’s really hard to tell. I’m guessing that full body image scrunches you up a little and adds some lbs- you’re arms seem thin and that’s something of a guage.
Is there any way you could let me know honestly what you’re attractiveness level is? I know this is an odd request, but that’s what you get for putting your email in Metro- this is what you’re readers are thinking about!! If you want throw any other interesting details in there please feel free- height/weight, relationship status, other pics, exercise regimen, etc.
But of course, I can’t talk about any of this. And I certainly can’t write about it. Because the one time I do (in response to Keith Hernandez’s priceless comments), I get stuff like this:
“Another good one today
I have to admit I did not like the one the other day when you made a big
deal about being a woman sports writer
Until that point I had thought of you as an extremely good writer and
that’s it, making a big point about being a woman was a turnoff”
What to say about any of this? People (in this case, men) are jerks? Clearly, when people can post comments and send email in pseudo-anonymity, they say a lot of things they would never dare to say to my face. And apparently, for me to expose them is “a turnoff,” as if I have some sort of innate duty to turn them on.
As for getting back to the kitchen…I think I speak for all of us when I say that if there is one UmpBumper who needs to get back to that room, it’s Nick Kapur. That man makes better chicken soup than my mom. (Sorry, Mom.)