At the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, we believe in celebrating every victory for the movement. And while we aren’t celebrating a championship game, today we are highlighting the world of sports.
NCOSE praises the New York Mets and team owner Steven Cohen for the swift, decisive action following news of the baseball team’s general manager Jared Porter sending over 60 inappropriate and harassing text messages to a reporter back in 2016.Thank you @Mets and @StevenACohen2 for standing against harassment and exploitation! #Mets #ZeroTolerance #DignityDefenseAlert Click To Tweet
The reporter, choosing to remain anonymous despite having since returned home to her country and left the sports journalism field for fear of negative repercussions, met Porter and exchanged business cards with him. Looking for work connections, they began texting when the messages quickly turned inappropriate, with Porter sending many suggestive pictures over the course of several months.
The 62 unanswered, unsolicited, harassing texts, which included photos of Porter’s clothed and unclothed genitals, finally ended when the reporter found the courage to respond and demand he cease the exploitative behavior. The incident was known to several employees of the Cubs team where Porter worked at the time, and ESPN was set to cover the story until the reporter pulled out, again due to fear of negative repercussions against her and her career. That summer, the woman reported to Cubs employees, to her boss, and to friends that she had developed a serious sleeping problem and was wracked with anxiety over the experience.
It took over 62 messages before enough was enough, and even then, the reporter said, “I never really got the notion that he was truly sorry.” This experience is sadly not unique to this reporter, as many women deal with this harassment and inappropriate behavior every day, in both the workplace and out of it.
While this experience may be all too common, the NY Mets are doing what they can to get the message out loud and clear: this behavior won’t be tolerated, and all entities have a responsibility in making this happen.
Within 24 hours of the Mets and team owner Steven Cohen hearing about the allegations against Porter, they fired him, saying: “There should be zero tolerance for this type of behavior.”
The Chicago Cubs, where Porter worked in 2016 when the incident took place, stated that had they known about the texts, they also “would have taken swift action as the alleged behavior is in violation of our code of conduct.”
In the wake of the #MeToo movement and other social shifts that have opened up discussion about harassment and exploitation, it’s critical that men speak up and hold each other accountable when they witness men’s exploitation and harassment against women. And it’s critical that we address the cultural messages that fuel this type of destructive and harmful behavior. The NY Mets is sending a clear message to men everywhere that men’s violence against women is not to be tolerated.
Without powerful voices calling for change, and institutions like sports teams proactively addressing and preventing further incidents like this one, progress will be too slow. That’s why we’re excited to name the NY Mets and owner Steven Cohen as our January Dignity Defense Alert, a campaign to recognize the people, companies, and nonprofits who are taking action to defend human dignity from any form of sexual abuse or exploitation.
You can thank Steven Cohen and the NY Mets for standing against harassment and exploitation here!
About the Dignity Defense Alert
In today’s world, it is easy to focus on those who are doing wrong and spend the entirety of our capacity on those who are abusing, or facilitating exploitation, or failing to prevent harm. There is incredible value in raising awareness and taking action on those issues. We at NCOSE focus much of our time and resources on doing just that. But we believe there is also value in acknowledging and raising awareness regarding the countless individuals and entities who are doing the right thing and fighting the good fight. While not every entity we recognize in the course of this campaign is perfect in this regard, we want to thank those that are taking important steps forward.
We want to celebrate heroes who do what is right, and we want to applaud every milestone that we can in the journey towards a world free from sexual abuse and exploitation. Doing so both recognizes progress and encourages progress by holding up leaders and examples for others to follow, whether that is in the realm of corporations, NGOs, or individual advocates.
Do you have an individual, company, or nonprofit you would like to nominate to be recognized in a Dignity Defense Alert? Learn more and nominate entities here.