Tuesday, November 12, 2013

NFL Player Speaks Intelligently About Gender and Bullying

Chicago Bears receiver Brandon Marshall recently addressed the bullying culture in the NFL:
“Look at it from this standpoint. Take a little boy and a little girl. A little boy falls down and the first thing we say as parents is ‘Get up, shake it off. You’ll be OK. Don’t cry.’ A little girl falls down, what do we say? ‘It’s going to be OK.’ We validate their feelings. So right there from that moment, we’re teaching our men to mask their feelings, to not show their emotions. And it’s that times 100 with football players. You can’t show that your hurt, can’t show any pain. So for a guy to come into the locker room and he shows a little vulnerability, that’s a problem. 
"That’s what I mean by the culture of the NFL. And that’s what we have to change. So what’s going on in Miami goes on in every locker room. But it’s time for us to start talking."
I added emphasis in those final sentence because, wow, what a refreshing change of pace!

Maybe I read too much Men's Rights Activist (MRA) stuff, but a typical MRA would replace those final sentences with a non sequitur along the lines of, "... and that's what's why feminism must die."

Instead, Marshall acknowledges that the culture of bullying in the NFL is a result of both how boys/men are socialized and of how football culture exaggerates those expectations associated with masculinity.  Instead of chiding feminists for not solving this issue for men, by using the words "we" and "us" he also implicitly proposes that those who are largely responsible for this issue, and who have actual power to make changes, in the NFL - men - begin to seriously address the problem. After all, it's men who are 100% of NFL players, the vast majority of coaches and managers, and who are marketed to as the target audience of authentic football fans.

Well done!

Also notable is that a commenter following the article, a man, immediately begins ridiculing and gender policing Marshall's statements:
"All NFL teams should be mandated to have Gay Pride Parades on the field during halftime along with periodic announcements on the PA as the game is played encouraging group hugs.

We'll also need an extra month of all the players wearing pink equipment to make sure the message gets across. One of the root causes of all of this bullying is the tackling. It encourages bad manners and feelings. The NFL should replace tackling with wearing flags -- if a flag is taken off during the play, the play ends -- and we need strict enforcement on that. 
Moreover, yelling and shows of emotion should also be banned and enforced with 15 yard penalties.

And let's be honest, the team uniforms and logos aren't gender-neutral enough, can't we tone those down with some pastels and fuscias?"
Here, the male commenter aptly demonstrates how oftentimes it's other men who, through their contempt for femininity and women, create many of the roadblocks toward solving some of these issues that uniquely impact men.  MRAs rarely, if ever, take such men to task.

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