Former Philadelphia Eagles player Don McPherson spoke out against misogynistic language and sexual violence at Bender Arena April 3.
“We learn to communicate in teams,” McPherson said. “We learn to communicate in our organizations, with rules. But when we talk about social issues, we don’t do that. Very often, we remain silent about things, even when we see them happening right in front of us.”
Organizations including AU Athletics, the Interfaith Fraternity Council and the Residence Hall Association sponsored the event.
McPherson asked the guys in the audience what the worst insult when they were children was. The overwhelming response: “You throw like a girl.”
McPherson linked the relationship between his feminist activism and his involvement in football, explaining that “the two worlds are not mutually exclusive.”
He said a reason that violence against women has often been dismissed is because it is treated as a “women’s issue,” which is separated from male discussion.
“But the reality is, all the different forms of violence committed against women, those are human issues,” McPherson said. “They’re our issues as men.”
McPherson also noted that, while misogynistic and homophobic language is accepted, “when white people use the word n***** they get in such a tizzy,” he said.
He implored attendees to have an honest dialogue and conversation about social issues, such as the language that perpetuates violence against women, to examine these issues in detail in order to make good decisions.
“True prevention is not waiting for bad things to happen,” McPherson said. “It’s preventing things from happening in the first place.”
Organizers held a breakout session in the Kettler Palmer Lounge after the speech, during which both male and female students continued the conversation on gender issues with McPherson.
McPherson took questions from students on a variety of topics, including redefining gender-specific qualities (i.e., men as tough, powerful and smart; and women as meek and submissive) as wholly human qualities.
McPherson advised those in the audience “put down the technology once in a while” to combat the gender-based violence.
“You can’t rely on a tweet or Facebook post to have a real conversation,” he said, “so the best thing to do is to have it face to face with one another.”