JULIE STEWART-BINKS | TV and Radio Host, Sports Reporter + Feminist | No. 18
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HERE'S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW.
How do I say this? Julie is not your typical girl. Or maybe she is. I'm not sure. But there is certainly a perceived perception of her, and then there's the Truth. The real Julie. The one who's willing to show up as herself with flaws, mistakes, and lessons-learned without recoiling back into the safety of her on-air personality. She's learned things the hard way, the difficult way, and in a very public way - remember "the Gronk lap dance incident"?
“When it first came it out it was like, wow that was pretty edgy and crazy. And then It was women coming after me in droves. Saying that I had essentially ruined journalism for women. Feminism. That I was disgraceful. And it was really difficult to read.”
Although there were difficulties, she's come out of it victorious in that she's learned a lot about herself. And now? Well now she knows who she is and because of that, she is unapologetically herself.
That is why I'm attracted to her story, to her work, and to her truth. That is why this conversation happened. And that is the lesson here. Never judge a book by it's cover. There are always two sides to a story - if not three.
“Some people came to me and said, why wouldn’t you when Gronk said ‘oh give you a lap dance’, say no? I said, say no?! Are you kidding me? I would have been fired in that commercial break.
In that idea that you can’t handle that I guess. That sensitivity or having a boundary is a negative.”
Women have been pinned against one another for far too long, and we've stayed silenced out of fear of losing our jobs. The more we compete, the less we accomplish. And it's time that we all do a better job of listening, and looking into facts and personal stories, before we cast judgement for what is perceived.
“Regardless of how you felt, it was an entire gender that came after me. Not one single person even reached out to me. No one called. No one messaged. No one nothing before writing articles before jumping to conclusions about the type of person that I was or the type of goals I had. To even know that there was so much behind the scenes.”
Even when that judgement is seemingly rightful, it's almost always better to practice compassion, kindness and empathy first. At least in the book of Alyonka.
Julie and I recorded this podcast in the Barstool studios in NYC. Barstool is her new home. Controversial, yes, as they're known for their bro-tastic culture of sports, booze, women, and sex. Their CEO? A woman. Although the office is filled with men, Julie is adamant about Barstool's environment being one which encourages and supports women.
“So the irony of the situation is that although people might see a place like Barstool, because it is predominately dudes, as being a frat, as being all these stereotypes that we see…ironically, it’s the FOX Sports 1’s and the ESPN's that almost put women in a smaller role. Here [barstool] they’re saying: do whatever you want. Be a big personality. Have a platform. Whereas, if I tried to do those things [at ESPN] they would say, 'no, you can be the sideline reporter. You can be the host that gets to ask Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe a question and then you lay out for five minutes.' You don’t have the opinion in that show.”
As a former employee, it's a bold statement. But it's an important one and something that isn't getting enough attention. It's statements like these that will create cultural shifts and changes. Silence kills. Silence continues unjust behavior and societal norms. Julie is fighting that by speaking out.
“When you walk by guys warming up behind the scenes and they all stop and whistle and slam their sticks on the ground - is that harassment?
Yeah. That is harassment if you don’t feel comfortable walking by athletes you’re going to cover because they’re going to whistle at you. That’s not appropriate. But some people would say, well that’s just how they are. That’s just part of the job.”
There's fun in this conversation too. It's not all about #metoo and #timesup and being Feminist AF. We talk about Julie's upbringing, the relationship with her family, her parents' divorce and its' effects on her dating life.
“I’m starting to think more about it [the divorce] now as I try to have relationships with men. I haven’t really dated a whole lot of guys. Why do I have a hard time getting close to people? I’m starting to realize that I think it’s because of that. Probably slightly abandonment issues.”
She has deal-breakers. She's also fiercely independent. Career focused to a fault. I found myself in a lot of her story. And that's why this conversation is important. Because, at least for me, if I hadn't gone through all the changes I've made in the past year, this would have never happened. I would have remained in my competitive, distant self, unable to see Julie as a fellow human, a fellow Woman, and a fellow being. I would have seen her as my competition. That saddens me. However, it also fills my heart with warmth because it's proof that ALL OF US WOMEN have the capability of loving each other and fighting for one another, and creating supportive communities where we can thrive and grow.
So, thank you Julie. You might not know this but I'm a fan of you on and off air. And I think we need more Women like you. I stand beside you, trusting your story and your truth. Keep doing you.