What to do when you're a journalist writing about how Florida State University quarterback Jameis Winston's fans are sticking by him even though he's an alleged rapist? Make sure you include some "relevant" details about some of those fans, like the skimpy outfit one woman wore to watch him play.
Yahoo Sports reporter Pat Forde's piece published this weekend explores how, despite allegations of rape against Winston, his season hasn't been derailed at all and his fans are still behind him no matter what. That's depressingly unsurprising, really, but apparently worth a column remarking that for the fans,"Accusations be damned, he's their guy." What's also depressingly unsurprising is the anecdote Forde starts his column off with (emphasis added):
The young woman in the front row behind the Florida State bench was persistent.
"Sign the jersey, Jameis!" she yelled repeatedly at Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, who stood about 20 feet away.
She clutched a garnet No. 5 jersey with "Jay-boo" – Winston's nickname – on the back. A pen was in her right hand. She wore a black peekaboo top that showed plenty of cleavage, and garnet pants. The No. 2-ranked, undefeated Seminoles were putting the finishing touches on an 80-14 demolition of Idaho, and the only remaining drama in Doak Campbell Stadium was whether the woman was going to get her jersey signed.
"I know you hear me!" she yelled at Winston, who indeed looked her way but never took a step in her direction. "Pleeeease!"
When asked on Twitter by a reader why he chose to use this particular description of Winston's female fan, Forde said:
@EricZerkel Absolutely relevant, given the nature of the accusation against Winston.
— Pat Forde (@YahooForde) November 25, 2013
Perhaps by arguing that descriptions of cleavage bared is "Absolutely relevant, given the nature of the accusation against Winston," Forde is implying that this woman's sexy dress is important because Winston's crime involves sex as well. That would explain him including an anecdote in the piece about how Winston told reporters he wears a necklace his girlfriend gave him everyday. The takeaway here: Winston is a maybe-rapist and yet somehow, women still love him. Hot, beautiful, sexy, necklace-giving women still love him. Men, eh. They get descriptions that are far less interesting:
A guy next to her had his own No. 5 jersey, with the word "Innocent" on the back.
"Jay-boo, baby!" he yelled. "Give us some love over here! We're students! The students are behind you!"
Both this unidentified man and unidentified women said the same thing to Winston: PAY ATTENTION TO US. WE LOVE YOU. And yet the woman is notable because of her style of dress.
Who knows why that woman wore that outfit to the game. Does she want to sleep with Winston? Quite possibly. Women and men have been known to ignore lots of upsetting things because of attraction, some more notable than just a little alleged rape. She might just be wearing that outfit because she thinks she looks good. But Forde's grave mistake is conflating a style of dress with sex and furthermore, conflating rape with sex. Rape is not about sex. A female fan can support an alleged rapist without wanting to have sex with him. Her support of that alleged rapist can actually be the same kind that a straight male fan would give that individual. And according to an actual interview Forde did with both the male and female fans of Winston, it is:
Neither the man nor woman wanted to give their names when asked. But they gladly gave their opinion of the controversy swirling around Florida State's star quarterback.
"We've looked at everything that's been released," the woman said. "We're confident he's innocent."
In actually relevant news, the AP reports the decision over whether Winston will be charged with rape will probably not come this week. Though DNA testing indicates that Winston and the woman accusing him of rape did have sex, Winston is arguing that it was consensual. In less relevant news, some fans of Forde's are bummed there's no photo of this allegedly hot girl mentioned in his article:
— Nick Namtarts (@strat_nick) November 25, 2013
Don't worry Nick: like any good journalist, Forde made sure that there was:
Image via Jeff Gammons/Getty