Without any confirmation that Stiviano was behind the tape’s disclosure (not that it actually mattered), she was stalked by the paparazzi and vilified. Dug-up information on her background revealed that she had plastic surgery, a criminal record (which included arrests for petty theft and driving under the influence), several aliases and that Sterling’s wife, Rochelle, was suing Stiviano for the return of property and expensive vehicles purchased for her by Donald. The court documents also detailed that Rochelle was accusing her of being a seducer of wealthy older men (there is almost a 50-year age difference between Stiviano and Donald). From this it was deduced that Stiviano was a scorned snake of a mistress who sought out to record Sterling and sell the damning audio for a quick buck and maybe 15 minutes of fame. Even if this assumption is true to any or all extent, again, who cares? Does it change the fact that Sterling made those comments and is a bigot? I saw one news panel where the entire broadcast of the story was just about Stiviano and the hosts angrily theorized about her “motives.” Aren’t we mad at the racist or nah? Isn’t he the true villain here?
Stiviano began to take interviews and tell her side of the story. One would think the primary questions would be to establish if Sterling had a pattern of discrimination and hate speech, the details of the conversation in mind and what Stiviano may have endured while around him, but it was all about the nature of her relationship with the embattled team-owner. A relationship that, despite Sterling frequently appearing with her at events and games, no one examined, detected or inquired about. No one seemed to notice or care that he possibly had a mistress before. In one of the more disgusting and poor instances of journalism I’ve ever seen, “Entertainment Tonight” correspondent Brooke Anderson repeatedly asked Stiviano if she had sexual relations with Sterling (episode airing on 5/21/14), making sarcastic facial expressions, comments and groans each time Stiviano denied, even saying she didn’t believe Stiviano. When Stiviano became (understandably) perturbed, Anderson accused her of being “combative” and “defensive.” Afterwards, while at the ET panel table, Anderson and the other hosts dissected paparazzi footage of Stiviano, labeling her as attention-seeking for wearing a visor to cover her face from cameras and flaunting herself when she wasn’t wearing head gear. When she asserts herself under Anderson’s berating and aggressive interviewing, she’s “combative,” but her polite greeting and compliments pre-interview were to “butter [Anderson] up.” I directly tweeted Anderson: “How dare you call V. combative when you berated her and continued to repeat questions because you didn’t get the answer you wanted. I thought interviews were to get a person’s perspective, not convince a journalist of their truth.”
Somehow, it’s been more important to discern whether or not V. Stiviano is a “slut” that outed a man for gain, versus the bigger story from whence she came. We claim that Sterling’s mindset is deplorable, yet, we’ve sought to punish and scrutinize the person we believe to have brought it to light. A sin is a sin and a wrong is a wrong, but the media’s irrelevant and unbalanced focus on Stiviano would imply that possibly being a mistress and possibly outing a man is worse than being a racist. Why is this happening? It’s because of sexism. 1) Regardless of gender, infidelity is frowned upon. However, because promiscuity is a more acceptable and expected behavior for men than women, “the other woman” or a woman who cheats is often more heavily ostracized (and for a longer period) than a male in the same position. Indicia of this is how the masculine forms of the word “mistress” (ex. lover, paramour, kept man) are either lesser-known or don’t withhold the same level of insult. Furthermore, there are multiple slurs to call promiscuous women (ex. slut, skank, whore, hoe, tramp, etc.), but hardly any for men. In effect, these words are so closely tied to women, that “man” is used as a pre-fix to apply it to a male (ex. man-whore). 2) Women who challenge or disrupt the gender-hierarchy of control (women are to be in a subordinate role when amongst men) are generally viewed as an enemy of values and/or men. Stiviano recording an incriminating conversation that ultimately took a man out of his station of power makes her deserving of retribution.
Even after giving a far from humble and remorseful interview with Anderson Cooper, Donald Sterling will likely spend the last of his years rather comfortable and manage to get back into business-life. Meanwhile, V. Stiviano will probably struggle to evade her now destroyed image for at least a decade because of a sexist witch-hunt to shield a xenophobe. Sexism at its best.