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September 25th, 2010
03:44 AM ET

What are You Wearing to Work?

From CNN Saturday & Sunday Morning Anchor T.J. Holmes:

I got some women fired up in the newsroom last week. This started out as a conversation between me and one woman, but it wasn’t long before six women were chiming in.

What got them all so fired up? Ines Sainz. There’s a good chance you’ve heard that name in the past couple of weeks. She's a former beauty pageant contestant. She's also the sports reporter from Mexico's TV Azteca that was allegedly subjected to cat calls and other adolescent behavior or harassment from players when she was covering the New York Jets.

The NFL last week sent out a memo to all of its teams saying that female reporters are professionals that should be treated as such. But one part of the story that has a lot of people talking, including the women I conversed with in the newsroom, was how Sainz dressed for work. Sainz often wears skin-tight jeans and low-cut shirts when she’s covering sports.

No matter what she's wearing, it is deplorable and unacceptable to disrespect any female reporter trying to do her job, especially in a male-dominated field and covering male sports. Period. Nobody argues with that. But the discussion I had with my female colleagues was about whether the way this particular reporter dresses should be a part of the story. The answer, at least from the discussion I had, is a resounding yes.

Sainz has admitted that she dresses the way she does because she wants to be “attractive.” But there's a fine line between attractive and provocative and professional. You don't dress the same way for your Friday morning meeting at work … as you do for your Friday night date.

One of my favorite sports reporters is Michele Tafoya. She’s a good-looking woman and well-respected sports journalist. But, I have never seen her or would ever imagine her dressing for work the way Sainz dresses for work.

Still, many female reporters came to Sainz's defense. Women fought hard and even fought in court for the right to have access to men’s locker rooms, so they could do their jobs as sports journalists. An incident like this could set their efforts back.

There's also something else here we need to consider. Sainz works for Mexico's TV Azteca where being a little sexy or provocative in your appearance is not only accepted but apparently expected. Go to TV Azteca’s website and look at their female reporters. You can find them under the tab, “Chicas.” Seriously. So, Sainz might have a standard for what's accepted in the workplace that's different from her American colleagues' standard.

Despite all the circumstances surrounding the Sainz incident, it really all boils down to this: it would be nice if grown men were able to control themselves and behave appropriately around an attractive woman. But, over time, haven't we, as grown men, proven that we're just not that mature?

T.J. Holmes anchors CNN Saturday & Sunday Morning, beginning 6am ET/ 3am PT.

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