Mishandling the Dallas Mavericks problem

I don’t know if this has been discussed before. I don’t follow basketball and I’m just hearing about this.

Apparently the Dallas Mavericks have had a big problem with sexual harassment. Former CEO Terdema Ussery was at the heart of it, although a number of other executives for the team were also involved. And part of the allegation is that the organization as a whole was covering for the people who were harassing women and discouraging women from complaining.

Ussery left the Mavericks in 2015 to take a position at another company, where he quit his new job within two months. Supposedly because he found his new company wouldn’t tolerate his behavior the way the Mavericks had. But Ussery’s departure from the Mavericks left people there less afraid to talk and the story began to be publicized.

Mark Cuban, who is the owner of the Mavericks, has said he was unaware of all of this. But since the story became news, he has suspended several of the executives who have been accused of misbehavior. He also brought in a new CEO, Cynthia Marshall, who is supposed to address the problems.

Enough background. Today, I read about Marshall’s first big proposal to address the problem; she’s changing the cheerleaders’ uniforms to make them “less revealing” and “more wholesome”.

As someone who has just heard about this story, I hesitate to rush to a conclusion. But this seems to me like the team is not heading in the right direction. This proposal seems to suggest that the harassing behavior by male executives can be addressed by changing the way women act; in other words, blaming the victims. It also seems to say that the management of the team is more concerned about improving the company’s public image rather than fixing the actual problems that damaged their public image.

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But what is the purpose of cheerleaders in skimpy costumes? They are really designed for men. I don’t think it’s necessarily shaming the victim as much as it’s more of a symbol of the direction the Mavs want to go in.

It’s stupid for sure.

Cheerleaders are sex symbols. I think it’s silly and prudish to try and pretend sex has no place is marketing or entertainment, but if you don’t want to have sex symbols representing your organization get rid of the cheerleaders. Lots of other pro sports organizations don’t have them. If you want to have a non-sexual dance troupe make it co-ed, change the routines to have less gyration and more acrobatics and do something interesting, also has been successfully done elsewhere. Having sex symbols gyrating while wearing burkas is more than a little dumb.

Linking the attire of your cheerleaders to sexual harassment in the C-suite is perhaps one of the most absurd things I’ve read in a while. I’m sure the Mavs will argue that these are unrelated moves that are in the spirit of culture change, which is fine I guess, but that doesn’t make it any less pointless as a gesture.

Considering recent allegations by NFL cheerleaders in lawsuits (in which attire WAS linked to what was arguably sexual exploitation), they might be trying to get ahead of that potential issue.

But what direction is that? Do the Mavericks want to be a company that doesn’t tolerate sexual harassment or do they want to look like a company that doesn’t tolerate sexual harassment? I realize both can be true but one doesn’t necessarily lead to the other. The management of a strip club can respect its female employees and the management of a church can harass its female employees.

Solid analogy.

While on the one hand this sounds like victim-blaming, the practice of having cheerleaders wearing skimpy uniforms and behave as sexily and as much as sex objects as possible while also demanding that they be treated in as non-sexual a way in possible sounds like marching out willfully onto a tightrope and finding it difficult to walk - or putting a large piece of meat in front of a pack of dogs and then demanding that the dogs “Look at the meat, but don’t touch it!”

(OK, so maybe meat and dogs aren’t the best analogy for women and men but you get my point.)

It sounds accurate to me, not in the sense that women are meat (aside from the fact that humans are meat like all mammals) but that they are portrayed as such when displayed as cheerleaders traditionally are.

I Googled pictures of Mavericks cheerleaders (for legitimate research purposes I swear!) and as someone who watches lots of football and is used to seeing the outfits common among that sport’s cheer squads I was a bit surprised. It has been a couple decades since I was a major fan of the NBA but I don’t remember outfits quite that skimpy. Some were barely bikini-sized. I’m no prude but you can cover that up a little without making them look like dancing nuns.

But cheerleaders perform in their uniforms during games. They’re not dancing back in the corporate offices.

And that’s where the harassment went on. Several women made a point that they never experienced any problems with the players or coaches. It was the executives who were harassing them.

These women were not the team’s cheerleaders. They were businesswomen working in the corporate office.

So telling the cheerleaders to put on more clothes is doing nothing to address the problems that actually occurred. It’s directing attention away from where the sexual harassment was going on to a different time, a different place, and a different group of women.

If Playboy photographers could shoot several hours a day of fully naked women doing all manner of gyrations without turning into out of control animals, a freaking team president can be in the vicinity of a nice-looking woman without demanding sex or announcing that she’s about to be gangbanged. I managed just fine my whole life.

And per usual, we have to have that “They’re acting sexual but don’t want to be seen as sexual! Hypocrites! Hypocrites!” red herring. Look, here’s how it goes. It’s okay to hoot and holler at them when they’re on the court. It’s not okay to hoot and holler at them in the office, or at home, or at the mall, or when they’re otherwise not on duty. It’s NEVER okay to touch them inappropriately or make unwanted sexual advances toward them.

Good Belldandy, expecting men to not use skimpy clothing as an excuse for creepy sleazy predatory behavior is still controversial?? :smack:

This reminds me of a seminar we had where a paper was presented on sexual abuse of pre-pubescenst and teenager children. (fun!:() It turned out that contarary to what was often believed, boys were at a much higher risk; since everyone knew girls were vulnerable and took steps to reduce the chances of abuse.

I believe that its a similar case here. The cheerleaders are watched and the coaches/players are policed and this reduces oppurtunity and incidence. Women working in corporate offices are not.

Spot. On.