Halftime harassment

A ritual at Giants Stadium involves crowds of men clamoring for women to take off their shirts.


Catherine Price
November 20, 2007 11:38PM (UTC)

Who knew that Tuesday would have so many stories about breasts? Today's New York Times contains an article that confirms my assertion in my previous post, about the Swedish "Bara Brost" movement, that sporting events are not pleasant places to take off one's shirt.

The article describes a halftime ritual at Jets' home games at Giants Stadium, in which several hundred men gather on the pedestrian ramps by Gate D. Standing, as the article puts it, "three deep in some areas," they whistle, jump up and down, and demand that women passing by show them their breasts. When women don't oblige, they sometimes spit and throw things at them. But other women say yes -- and their videos, taken by cellphone, are often posted on YouTube (most of which have been removed for "terms of use violations").

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This ritual (or unofficial halftime show, as some call it) has supposedly been around for years, and is unique to the Jets -- the Times claims that the ramps are relatively empty at Giants games. Security guards are present during the jeering, but though the men and women supposedly could get expelled, according to the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority's vice president for security, the guards appear to not do much other than make sure the mob doesn't get violent. But videos on YouTube show women getting groped, and when the article's reporter tried to interview a security guard about what goes on during this "show," he was "detained in a holding room, threatened with arrest and asked to hand over his tape recorder."

Although mostly critical of the tradition, the Times does propose that perhaps these "forlorn Jets fans, who have rarely had a winning team to support, are seeking alternative entertainment on game days" -- which, even if true, seems like a pretty lame excuse. It's more like a situation where behavior that would be considered completely unacceptable if performed by just one person is somehow forgivable if performed by a crowd. Yes, it would be difficult to stop 500 people from chanting, or to prevent the occasional woman from obliging. But you could do other things to prevent the practice, like blocking off some of the area during halftime or having the guards do more than stand around and smoke.

This article reminded me of a piece I saw on the TV version of "This American Life" about a hot dog stand in Chicago where, late on weekend nights, the staff and drunk customers scream insults at each other as they order and prepare the food. (Here's the episode clip on YouTube, but watch out --- it'd be rated R for obscenity.) At its best moments, the mood in the stand is loud but playful, but as the evening wears on and the customers get more drunk, people start yelling racial slurs at one another and the (mostly white) customers begin to chant for "chocolate milkshakes" -- which is a request for the (mostly African-American) staff to show their breasts.

The hot dog stand's name is the Wiener Circle. Which, come to think of it, might be a pretty good name for the crowd at Gate D.


Catherine Price

Catherine Price is an award-winning journalist and author of Vitamania: How Vitamins Revolutionized the Way We Think About Food. Her written and multimedia work has appeared in publications including The Best American Science Writing, The New York Times, Popular Science, O: The Oprah Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Washington Post Magazine, Salon, Slate, Men’s Journal, Mother Jones, PARADE, Health Magazine, and Outside. Price lives in Philadelphia.

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