Monday, December 08, 2008

Sean Avery and Jon Favreau: Comparing the NHL and the Obama Administration

Two recent public incidents have caught my eye and I'm stuck on one question someone asked me, "What do you think is appropriate punishment?"

Last week, NHL player, Sean Avery, came under fire after commenting to the press and making a disparaging comment about former girlfriends who are now in relationships with other NHL players:

"I just want to comment on how it's become like a common thing in the
NHL for guys to fall in love with my sloppy seconds. I don't know what
that's about, but enjoy the game tonight."

He is referring to ex-girlfriend actress Elisha Cuthbert is reportedly now dating Dion Phaneuf of the Calgary Flames. Another former girlfriend of Avery, model Rachel Hunter is reportedly now seeing another NHL player, Jarret Stole of the Los Angeles Kings.

Avery, with a history of making inappropriate remarks to stir controversy was suspended for six games and has been described as a "disturber, an agitator" by Barry Melrose, ESPN NHL analyst.

Even more recently, the chief speechwriter of our President-elect, 27 year old Jon Favreau, has made his own headlines when a picture of him was displayed on Facebook that showed the newly minted talent groping the right breast of a life-size cutout of the new Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton. In the picture, there is a friend tilting a beer to her lips, offering a kiss, and grasping the top of the cutout's hair, all together disturbing and disasterous.

These two separate incidents are, in one sense, hardly newsworthy when you consider the severity of the actions: offensive statements and thoughtless sexist actions caught on camera. But what makes these kinds of incidents so compelling is the reaction of the public and the organizations they represent. To date, Avery was suspended for six games and Favreau, according to the Washington post apologized to the former First Lady, but received no punishment for his boorish pose. Even more maddening is that Clinton camp simply called it good-natured fun and Clinton is "pleased to learn of Jon's obvious interest in the State Department, and is currently reviewing his application," despite her reign on the sexist parade the past two years.

So, let me make this clear in my head: the NHL suspends Avery for his disrespectful comments toward women (albeit, he had already established a history and his reputation preceded him) but the Obama administration has nothing to say. Clinton herself, who rightfully pointed out the sexism spewed on her during her campaign trail, has now gone cold on calling out sexism and sings pleasure of his application to the State Department. Favreau, the leading mind behind Obama's public vernacular merely hangs his head as he is carded the newest "Facebook victim" and nothing more.

The lack of any kind of response about the Favreau incident is off-putting. Which brings me to the question: What is the appropriate response for offensive behavior done off working hours but contradict the image what you work for? Does the punishment fit the crime? In Avery's case, yes. He reportedly had been warned in the past and to carefully watch his mouthy steps. Favreau though, with all of this verbal sophistication, looks like he will not even receive a tap on his once roaming right hand. If firing him is not the correct measure, then what? Suspending him for six speeches? I don't think so, but his thoughtlessness warrants something in between losing his job and Clinton's spokesperson sweeping it under the rug.

Momentarily putting aside the commendable and rare response of the NHL, the sad reality of these two incidents is not the six-game suspension or public shaming of "Favs." The maddening component of these behaviors is how easy it is to dismiss sexism, however public or lewd. Any weekend in any bar - glorified city or unknown small town - on any given Saturday night gathering, you can find an Avery or Favreau disrespecting women either in word or gesture. The most common character though is the person who makes light of it all; you can always find a Philippe Reines nonchalantly waving it off as funny or a trivial matter.

I just never thought I'd ever have to compare the NHL to the Democratic party for their reactions to sexism and then applaud the former for taking some form of action. At the very least, they recognized it as unacceptable and sent a stiff penalty to Avery with a kindergarten lesson attached, "That's not right and you can't say something like that."

And since the Dems seem to be suddenly ignoring the impact of a sexist action gone internet crazy, I take it upon myself to give a kindergarten message made especially for Jon Favreau, "Stay in line and keep your hands to yourself."

Cross-posted at Bitch Magazine.


  1. WAY to go victim blaming there. If hillary chooses to try and neutralize the sexism with humor, that may be an ineffective choice, but it is HER choice. Why not blame the guy who HIRED Favreau, the guy who's not even said a word yet about this matter, the guy who is going to be the future employer of an asswipe like Favreau - Barack Obama?

    On which planet, using what possible logic, is it HILLARY's fault now?

  2. Hillary's not being blamed for what Favreau did. I point out that the Dem party did not acknowledge it in the least when someone from their own party did something wrong and sexist.

    Hillary's not being blamed for someone doing something lewd on a cutout that resembles her. I am pointing out a disturbing silence of her administration for NOT calling out Favreau, not blaming Hillary Clinton for what Favreau did.

    Expecting more out of the Dem party and their spokespeople is not victim blaming; it's demanding they remain vocal on what they so clearly fought against throughout her entire campaign trail.


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