Like most American males, Don McPherson was taught at an early age that “men don’t show their emotions. They suck it up, tough it out, play through their pain without complaint.” The former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback enjoys watching college football but not the harsh truths behind the glitz and spotlights. He sees the way young men are taught to strut and boast and behave and “to never throw like a girl.”
“In other words, we’re telling boys they need to be certain kinds of men, and that women and girls are less. It’s a horrible, horrible lesson. But it’s the culture of sports. It needs to change,” McPherson said.
On October 2nd, McPherson brings his lecture “You Throw like a Girl,” to Lyndon State College in an effort to drive home how language and ingrained attitudes contribute to the abuse of women.
“I’ve talked to men of all ages, colors, classes, socioeconomic backgrounds, etc., and almost every one of them will tell you the worst insult you can make about a boy is to compare him to a girl,” he said. “You can say a boy hits like a truck or runs like a cat, and that’s perceived as cool. But you refer to him as a sister and those are considered fighting words. And, that, to me, is the fundamental underpinning of sexism and misogyny.”
“I’m not going to make my son any better by degrading my daughter,” he said. “We need to find a way to make our boys better.”
In 1995, McPherson turned his focus to the issue of “men’s violence against women,” as director of Sport in Society’s Mentors in Violence Prevention Program. He has conducted workshops and lectures for community organizations, national sports and violence prevention organizations, and on more than 200 college campuses. His programs and lectures have reached more than 1 million people. McPherson has twice testified before the United States Congress and has worked closely with the U.S. Departments of Education and Defense on issues of sexual violence in education and the military, respectively.
His lecture will be in Alexander Twilight Theatre on Wednesday, October 2 at 11 a.m. It is free and open to the public.