Julie DiCaro, an update anchor and contributor to 670 The Score, was a lawyer before joining the media — giving her a unique perspective on athletes and their legal troubles.
After Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said “you stay together as a team and you support your teammate,” in regards to the Patrick Kane situation, DiCaro hopped on social media to share her thoughts.
In an email with Chicago Sun-Times Sports, DiCaro elaborated on some of the things she was saying on Twitter, and the responses she receives.
What was your initial reaction to Toews’ comments that included “support your teammate?”
I think it was a completely innocent statement by a guy saying what he thinks a captain is supposed to say, but I don’t think people realize how often statements like that contribute to the “rape culture” that we hear so much about. For a long time, teams always issued the “we support our guy” statement in reaction to allegations of violent crimes against women, not realizing that saying “we support our guy” implies that the organization doesn’t support the victim. It just folds into the endless cycle of people immediately assuming the victim is lying and that the athlete is the buddy they think he is.
In recent years, teams have moved away from saying things like that, and I was especially pleased with the way the Cubs, Hawks, and Bulls have responded to allegations, just saying “we don’t know what happened so we can’t comment.” I think that’s the way to go, and Toews just needs to have his artful “no comment” response in his pocket for those situations. Women don’t report rape because they are afraid they won’t be believed (I’m speaking from experience here). Statements like this from athletes and teams contribute to that fear.
Can you share, as clean as possible, some of the things being said to you on Twitter?
Oh God. I’ve been called every name in the book, the c-word, feminist trash, Miss Piggy, fat, ugly, and that’s just in the last hour or so. Most of the insults center around my looks, which I think goes to the attitude of the guys saying them, which is that women are generally untrustworthy and being ugly is the worst crime they can accuse a woman of committing. A couple of guys suggested I get paid to tweet about Kane — oh how I wish that were true. One guy told me to shut up, go home, and raise my kids. The most heart-breaking tweets are the ones that call me, and women generally, names, and then the guy has his daughter in his avatar. A surprising number of nasty tweets come from very young women, which is upsetting as well.
Thoughts on those using #ISupport88?
It’s just so silly and evidences such a big problem in society. People really do think they know pro athletes, and therefore can’t conceive them doing anything untoward. The irony is that most people accusing me of taking the victim’s side are using that hashtag, so it’s fine with them if you’re biased, as long as you’re biased in their favor. And despite that fact that I’ve said repeatedly that no one knows what happened and that no one should be taking one side or the other, all they hear is that I’m not blindly supporting Kane, and that sets them off. At this point, the #ISupport88 hastag has become a way for the rest of Twitter to identify the kooks.
Anything else you want to add or just overall thinking on how Toews could have said the same thing but essentially better?
My guess is that he didn’t necessarily anticipate the question and wasn’t prepared for it, but he has to be ready with an artful “no comment,” or he shouldn’t be speaking to the media. He’s the face of the franchise and of the NHL, and what he says has consequences. One only has to look to how many of the guys victim-shaming and calling women names on Twitter are supporting what Toews said, or using his comments to bolster their own warped views of reality. Again, I think it was an innocent mistake, but this is an issue that has bigger implications for our society at large. It’s not the right time or place to profess blind support for someone, teammate or not.