An Open Letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and
Sports Illustrated Publisher Brendan Ripp
By Nicholas Ponticello, Enraged Citizen
August 5, 2015
On Monday, June 22, 2015, in response to a comment on twitter suggesting that Andy Benoit does not think women's soccer is worth watching, Benoit tweeted his 12,400+ followers, "Not women's soccer......women's sports in general not worth watching." He has since deleted the tweet and has issued an apology, citing "playful ribbing" as the premise for his sexist remarks.
An apology is simply not enough. Already, Benoit's sexist tweet is being cast by the media as just another stupid remark to be mocked and then ignored. However, ignoring this sort of comment from a public figure--a so-called sports journalist and member of the American press--is just another way of saying this kind of discourse in the American media is fine so long as it happens on Twitter. So long as Benoit says it on his own time. So long as he deletes it like it never happened. So long as we can all hum loudly enough to drown out the shadow of misogyny in our culture. It's fine.
It is not fine. As a public figure with a highly active online profile, Benoit's sexist comments coupled with his subsequent evasion of all consequences only proves how insidious the problem of gender inequality is in America.
The media must make a stand. So it is that I am reaching out to you Mr. Dorsey, and you, Mr. Ripp, to set a new precedent in this country. You know as well as I do that Andy Benoit's comments breathe life into an America that we thought we had left behind decades ago. Because he is a public figure endorsed by multiple media outlets, Benoit's voice is powerful. And so his comments are more than just the ramblings of an ignoramus. They are a call to action. They say, "Do not value women as you do men." And for many Americans, Benoit's attitude only affirms and strengthens their own ill-founded beliefs.
And so I call upon you, Mr. Dorsey, as you retake the reigns as the CEO of Twitter, to set a precedent for your company--a company that has become a primary source of news and media in this country for thousands of Americans. I ask you to remove Andy Benoit's profile from Twitter. He has lost his privilege to spout his nonsense to the masses. Mr. Dorsey, please show us what you think Twitter can be, what role you think it should play in the future of America, and eliminate Andy Benoit's account.
And I call upon you, Mr. Ripp, to demand the immediate resignation of Andy Benoit from the Sports Illustrated contributing staff. As a magazine that promotes and celebrates athletes of all makes and creeds, it is your duty to uphold the integrity of your publication. Andy Benoit has undermined that integrity.
I welcome news outlets to publish this call to action in a show of support for women's sports and gender equality. The worst thing we could do is pretend that a deleted tweet means it never happened.
Nicholas Ponticello is a high school mathematics teacher in Los Angeles, where he lives with the art historian Nico Machida and their five freshwater fish. Nicholas received degrees in mathematics and astrophysics from the University of California, Berkeley in 2006 and is currently earning a certificate in sustainability from UCLA Extension. His debut novel,
Do Not Resuscitate received honorable mention at the 2015 Green Book Festival, which spotlights "books that contribute to greater understanding, respect for and positive action on the changing worldwide environment," and is a semi-finalist in the 2015 Kindle Book Awards for Literary Fiction.