Suzy Favor Hamilton: Victim Of Sexist Double Standards

A picture of Suzy Favor Hamilton from her track-and-field days (left) juxtaposed with one of the images offered on the website of the escort agency she worked through.

A picture of Suzy Favor Hamilton from her track-and-field days (left) juxtaposed with one of the images offered on the website of the escort agency she worked through.

Suzy Favor Hamilton has had an amazing career as a middle-distance runner.  Not only has she competed in 3 Olympics, but during her collegiate career she won 9 NCAA championships and won the Big Ten Female Athlete of the Year award three times.  In recognition of her achievements, Hamilton had the award named after her.  Recently, it has been reported, Hamilton worked as an escort in Las Vegas.  Hamilton confirmed the report and as a result the Big Ten removed her name from the award.  Such a move, though not surprising, is frustrating for a number of reasons.  Hamilton’s sex life is her own personal business.  The Big Ten award was not named after Hamilton based on her sex life, but rather her accolades as an athlete.  The fact the Hamilton has worked as an escort does not change her accomplishments.  Whilst some might not agree with the values of the occupation Hamilton took up, she seems to be held to a higher standard than male athletes, who sexual promiscuity is often celebrated rather than condemned.

Charles Barkley was caught drunk driving whilst procuring the services of a sex-trade worker. TNT and NBA TV had no problem keep Charles Barkley on their programs.

Charles Barkley was caught drunk driving whilst procuring the services of a sex-trade worker. TNT and NBA TV had no problem keeping Charles Barkley on their programs.

There have been any number of male athletes who have served as patrons to escorts, none of whom seem to have trouble finding work or endorsements: Tiger Woods, Charles Barkley, Andray Blatche, Zach Randolph, Lawrence Taylor, Daunte Culpepper, Peja Stojakovic, Alex Rodriguez, Sean Avery and a host of others (sorry guys, I don’t mean to single any of you out).  Some of these athletes have faced issues after being publicly ousted, but each managed to keep their jobs.  This leads to an obvious question: Why is the stigma so harsh for women and yet so forgiving for men?

Additionally, there are a plentitude of other activities that male athletes have engaged in that are far worse than a sex act shared between two consenting adults.  Former Brooklyn Nets star and coach Jason Kidd pled guilty to driving while under the influence (DUI), which offered no impediment to his landing a coaching job weeks after retirement from playing.  Nor did his domestic abuse conviction become a professional setback.  Though it led to a trade, it also led to a new and richer contract, three trips to the NBA finals, and an NBA championship.  Likewise, after his first tenure with the Lakers ended, the New York Knicks signed Metta World Peace, who has also been convicted of domestic abuse.  Mike Tyson was convicted of rape and still had no problem getting booked for fights and paid millions upon his release, and was also given a number of roles in TV shows and movies.  It seems that male athletes can get away with just about anything, from rape to DUI to domestic abuse, and still have no problem finding somebody to offer them a large paycheck, whilst a female athlete that engaged in a sex act with a consenting adult is stripped of the honours bestowed upon her.

sfh1What Hamilton did was her own personal choice.  It was not a crime, and it was something that took place between consenting adults.  Athletes like Wilt Chamberlain and Magic Johnson can boast of the hundreds or thousands of women they’ve been with and receive little if any flack about it.  They still get book deals or jobs as analysts.  Men who beat their wives can get jobs as coaches, while others with DUI convictions get multimillion dollar contracts, and a convicted rapist can earn millions in one night.  I am not suggesting that people who are convicted of crimes should not be permitted to earn a living afterward, but I am asking why a woman, who committed no crime, is being publicly shamed for an aspect of her personal life that has no bearing in her past performance as an athlete.  Her reasons are her own and frankly nobody’s business but her own.  Why the Big Ten felt the need to remove her name from an athletic award is beyond me.  It is simply a symptom of the hypocritical double-standards that women face.  Women have been allowed a degree of sexual freedom, but are still not allowed the degree of freedom offered men.  There are a host of athletes who have committed criminal acts who are treated better than Hamilton.  Men who have beaten and victimized women and who are awarded contracts worth millions of dollars, while  Hamilton, who victimized nobody and committed no crimes, has her named removed from an award because some governing body from an academic institution doesn’t agree with how she conducts her sex life.  It is sad, but even today male sexual promiscuity is often celebrated whilst women must still face harsh social judgments when their sexual practices do not conform to traditional patriarchal view on sex.

Rambler About Rambler

Jason John Horn is a writer and critic who recently completed his Master's in English Literature at the University of Windsor. He has composed a play, a novella and a number of short stories and satirical essays.

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