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WHOLENESS AS A MAN INCLUDES BEING SENSITIVE, VULNERABLE...
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Wholeness As Man Includes Being Sensitive, Vulnerable...
Last week College Football Hall of Fame quarterback, Don McPherson shared that gender over race had a more adverse impact on his life.
In this week's blog entitled, Wholeness As A Man Includes Being Sensitive, Vulnerable...he shares that when men were asked what was the worst insult they heard as a young boy growing up they said, "You throw like a girl." He discusses how misogyny works it's way in to our culture and shares that being a "whole" man includes being sensitive, vulnerable and more.
Don McPherson: I always say to people that my gender has had a more adverse impact on my life then my race. And it's funny because white people go, “But your black! What could be worse than that?” So I had to start breaking down how I learned what it meant to be a man because that's the work that we were doing around masculinity and men’s violence against women. And then I had to start breaking down how I learned what it meant to be a man because that’s the work we were doing around masculinity and men’s violence against women. Then I came to that place where I had to really be honest about how I learned what it meant to be a man and when did l learn it? And I had to ask and I ask this question to men all the time, “What is the worst insult you heard as a little boy?”...”You throw like a girl!”..... Right?
I ASKED MEN, "WHAT WAS THE WORST INSULT YOU COULD HEAR AS A LITTLE BOY?"
“YOU THROW LIKE A GIRL."....................THAT'S MISOGYNY
It was all these don'ts but it was primarily being compared to a girl. And that was the conversation around men's violence against women. (Being compared to a girl) is the ultimate insult.
YOU CAN REFER TO A GUY AS AN ANIMAL AND IT'S A COMPLIMENT. COMPARE HIM TO HIS SISTER, IT'S THE ULTIMATE INSULT
You can call a guy, “That's my dog.”, “He's a cool cat.”, “Hits like a truck.”, “He has pipes!” You can refer to a guy as an inanimate object or an animal, and it's a compliment. But you compare them to his sister, and it's the ultimate insult. That's misogyny and we hear it in that very subtle way where I call it the language of sports but it's really the language of misogyny, sexism, homophobia, and the foundation of men's violence against women. Because if that's the ultimate insult, that means that she, and that's the lesson that boys learn with that language, “You throw like a girl,” you're saying that women and girls are less than.
IF GIRLS ARE LESS THAN, THEN YOU'RE GOING TO DISRESPECT THEM
IT LEADS TO MEN'S VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
If they are less than, then you're going to disrespect them, ignore them, disrespect their rights, ignore their rights, abuse their rights, it leads to men's violence against women and our cultural silence about it. So that was the first piece, ”You throw like a girl.” that I heard very profoundly when I started doing this work and I heard that language in my head that I heard as a little boy.
The second message was what it meant to be a man; You better man up, suck it up, don't cry, don't show emotion. So how narrow, what I refer to as narrow masculinity, that it becomes very narrowly defined. And there was a lot of don'ts! Don't cry, don't be a sissy, and it made me think that we don't raise boys to be men, we raise boys not to be women. Or gay men because we are constantly telling boys what not to be, instead of what to be in their wholeness.
"DON'T CRY" "DON'T BE A SISSY"... WE ARE CONSTANTLY TELLING BOYS WHAT NOT TO BE INSTEAD OF WHAT TO BE IN THEIR WHOLENESS
I once had a football player of the school once say to me in the process of processing, in all we had talked about (regarding) the box of masculinity and processing that box and processing that language of “You throw like a girl.” I had a football player say, “Well if your son threw like a girl, wouldn't you do something about that?” And my initial quick reaction was, “I'm not going to make my son better by degrading my daughter.”
I'M NOT GOING TO MAKE MY SONG BETTER BY DEGRADING MY DAUGHTER
IT'S INCUMBENT UPON US AS MEN TO CHALLENGE OUR BOYS BY NOT DEGRADING WOMEN
So it's incumbent upon us as men to find ways to challenge our boys, to raise whole boys and do so in that process, by not degrading women in the process.
Think about the language that we use to challenge and this is why the sports conversation becomes so important because that box of masculinity where we say, “Be tough, be strong, don't back down,” that serves me as a football player, that served you as a softball player, right? So that language is not bad. And this is the part where I reject the notion of breaking out of the man box. It's not breaking out of it, it's adding to it. Because there's nothing wrong with me being tough, and strong, watching my emotions, being true and authentic in who I am, a cisgender heterosexual man, being whole in that. But also being loving, and caring, and sensitive, and passive, and submissive, and vulnerable, and empathetic. And that's not my feminine side, that is my wholeness as a man.
And so where sports becomes dangerous, and why I say that it is cancerous, is that if we don't proactively teach all those things (mentioned above)... and here's the beauty of sports, I know when (Ray and I had a call in preparing for this conference) we started to sort of like go back and forth a little bit about the purpose and the role of sports in our lives, sports can do those things. If you're just narrowly defined in sports, you're not going to be around very long. If you play basketball, you can dribble but you can't shoot, “bye-bye!” If you can skate but you can't shoot in hockey, no longer! In football if you can run but you can't catch, you’re not gonna be a wide receiver. So the more we know, the more we can do, the better we are. And we do that in the classroom, we do that in theater, we do that in all the other ways that we raise our children. We ask them to know more but when it comes to masculinity it's very very narrow. Be tough, be strong, don't cry. And so for our boys to get better and for our institutions to get better, we have to teach, especially in a culture that's defined by patriarchy.
WE HAVE TO EXPAND OUR UNDERSTANDING OF MASCULINITY, NOT NARROW IT DOWN
We have to expand that understanding of masculinity, not narrow it down. So it's not breaking out of the box, it’s actually adding to the box so that we have all the tools in that box we need. I look forward to the (continued) conversation. (End of video).
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