Former NFL Quarterback Don McPherson Shares ‘You Throw Like A Girl’
When was the last time you heard the comment, “You throw like a girl!” as a compliment? Probably never. Former NFL quarterback Don McPherson takes this idea and runs with it (no pun intended). McPherson presented a lecture addressing social justice issues involving gender last night in the HUB’s Freeman Auditorium. Appropriately, his presentation was entitled, “Throw Like A Girl.”
For over 27 years, McPherson has incorporated sports and athletics to confront challenging social issues. He utilizes the appeal of sports to focus on a positive understanding of masculine identity — one that does not degrade women and focuses on quality personal attributes and integrity instead. A Syracuse alum, McPherson finished second in 1987’s Heisman voting and is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.
His presentation, which was sponsored by Penn State’s Center for Women Studies and the Paul Robeson Cultural Center, was primarily directed towards men. McPherson addressed the idea that woman are not “less” or “inferior” to men, and that being compared to a female should not be viewed as degrading in society.
McPherson opened up his presentation and stepped down from the stage claiming, “I like to speak to my audience on this level, not up on stage. You guys spend so much time in lectures anyway, and these topics are too important and personal for that.”
He continued by explaining the topic of gender equality, calling it an issue in which “brutally honest” conversation is necessary. McPherson emphasized how many social problems are simply not discussed honestly enough in everyday conversations. This lack of communication and exchange of information makes it unrealistic for individuals to make coherent and plausible decisions when faced with a social problem.
“We are too uncomfortable around the problems our society faces to the point where we can’t discuss them openly,” McPherson said. “I believe the only way we can make genuinely good decisions is if we are given good, honest information. We cannot make good decisions without any information. It’s impossible.”
McPherson went on to assert how many grew up in a “just say no” generation. Essentially, a generation where simply avoiding the confrontation of a problem was the solution. He said that this tactic is vague and unrealistic. To further present this issue, he shared how he once had a friend involved with drugs in high school.
“He was one of my closest pals,” he said. “How was I supposed to ‘just say no’ to interacting with a good friend, or walk away from him so easily?”
McPherson tied the matter back to gender issues. To demonstrate, he drew a box on a piece of poster board, and labeled that as the box that contained boys. He asked the audience for qualities that society expects of a typical man. Soon, the box is filled with words including: “Athletic, few emotions, smart, power, and muscles.”
He concluded by explaining that the box is trapping society into expecting certain qualities from men, or else they’re not deemed “masculine” enough. McPherson referred to how many young males today allude to females as objects. His point was simple: people must make a change within themselves, their friends, and ultimately within society to destroy the idea that comparing a man to a woman is the ultimate insult.
“When you say you are a man, you are not a collection of societal standards,” said McPherson. “When I say I am a man, I am a father. A brother. A husband. A friend.”