GOP doesn’t feel like women who worked for Dan Snyder

Sports

Melanie Coburn testified about direct harassment by Dan Snyder while she was a cheerleader and director of marketing in Washington.

Melanie Coburn Testified About Direct Harassment From Dan Snyder While She Was a Washington cheerleader and marketing director.
Image: Getty Images

The House Committee on Oversight and Reform today hosted a roundtable discussion on the ongoing sexual harassment and sexist culture among the Washington Commanders (formerly the Washington Football Team, and before that, a racist slur), organization led by owner Dan Snyder. Five women and a man who had worked for the football team in various roles and for different time periods over the past two decades, from marketing to video production to customer relations to cheerleading, testified before the attending committee on the culture of sexual harassment “every day” in their workplaces. .

The courage of these former employees to come forward was admirable – sharing and reliving their stories and experiences in front of other people, despite the shame and shame they said they felt moved some of them to tears. Several of the women were very young when the harassment began, in their first or second jobs outside of college, and while the cheerleaders’ harassment was the best documented and arguably the most offensive, their testimony made it very clear that there was no female in the organization who was exempt from objectification and harassment by their male superiors.

“We were exploited again and again,” said Melanie Coburn, a former cheerleader who became director of marketing and left the organization in 2011. “I came forward at great personal risk.”

Coburn described several instances of direct bullying by Snyder of the cheerleading squad, including parading them onto the field in front of friends and clients and telling them to “turn around slowly” so he and his guests could watch. Rather than pick the cheer roster based on their talents and experience, Snyder asked for a map of the team and cut ten veterans, Coburn said, “because they weren’t the prettiest.”

“People were hired and fired based solely on appearance,” she said.

The most disturbing story, of course, was repeatedly told by various witnesses from different perspectives – that Snyder had requested raw videos and images from a photo shoot for a cheerleading calendar depicting the breasts and genitals of various cheerleaders.

“They zoomed in on [cheerleaders’] genitals and keep the cameras rolling during costume changes,” Coburn said. “It was a soft-porn video set for Dan Snyder’s favorite bands.”

Tiffani Johnston, another former cheerleader and marketing executive, described her direct encounters with Snyder and other executives. She said she was asked to wear “low-cut blouses” to meetings with potential suite owners, and that Snyder herself had sat next to her at a work dinner and placed a hand on her thigh, then tried to put her in his chair. to push. limousine later the night before his attorney intervened – the attorney also wrote a letter to the committee confirming Johnston’s report.

Ana Nunez, former business development coordinator, and Rachel Engleson, former director of marketing and customer relations, both spoke about the pervasive objectification and harassment they received from their male superiors and colleagues. Emily Applegate, a former marketing coordinator, said she was harassed daily by the chief marketing officer of the Washington Commanders, and that she also had to wear tight outfits to events “so the customers have something to look at.”

As for Snyder’s claims that he was a hands-off boss – almost every witness disagreed with that assessment, saying he was a “control freak” and involved in every level of operation within the franchise. Each witness also explicitly called for the NFL’s full findings to be made public, expressing disappointment and anger at Roger Goodell’s attempt to cover up the situation. Goodell had stated that he was not releasing the investigation to protect those who came forward — which, according to these women’s claims, was not a valid excuse.

The stomach-turning part of this whole thing—even more so than the testimonials, which really say something—were different responses from Committee Republicans to the hearing. They dismiss, calling the hearing a “farce,” but go on about there were much more important things the committee should be discussing (Joe Biden, inflation and border control were, of course, the top three picks. Masks ‘made in China'” apparently also deserve a hearing on victims of systematic sexual harassment and assault). Their responses continued to humiliate women who had faced abuse in the workplace for years, highlighting why so many victims are hesitant to come forward or not come forward at all. Several Republican members, including Yvette Herrell and James Comer, repeatedly refused to acknowledge the significance of the witnesses’ experiences and the legitimacy of the hearing.

The worst comment, however, was that Ralph Norman, a South Carolina representative, told the witnesses, “Do you know what’s going to happen with this hearing? Nothing.”

The same was told to them by HR, by superiors, by the NFL, by everyone in their path—just when the victims think they can finally achieve some sort of victory, Norman tells them their efforts will be fruitless. The brutality in that statement was shocking, but not as shocking as what came next — when he had each witness declare “exactly what they want Congress to do once we get the report.”

You read that right — the member of the House of Representatives had the witnesses tell him what Congress should do after telling them there would be “nothing” from the report to be released, nor from the hearing they actively participated in. . hard to read that as anything other than a complete and utter rejection of the victims’ experiences with Snyder and Washington executives.

“Amend legislation so it can be brought to court,” Applegate said. “A lot of people go through the legal system and don’t see justice when it comes to sexual harassment and assault.”

Snyder received the equivalent of a lettucep on the wrist for creating this culture and harassing his female employees — fined $10 million and voluntarily stepping back from day-to-day operations and handing over the reins to his wife.

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