Locker Room Talk? Girl Talk?
If Don could go back, what might he say or do differently?
Stories aren’t just in books or movies. The truth is that we all tell big stories in our ‘real lives’ as a way to give the world an impression of who we are – or who we want the world to THINK we are.
Let’s face it, our teenage years can seem like a cross between fact and fiction. I remember trying on different personalities – sometimes simply ‘acting’ like I thought a girl my age should act – or – acting in ways that I thought would make me likeable. I was Exhibit #1 of cultural expectations of girls.
Let’s cut away to a boys’ high school locker room. Exhibit #2. A place where masculinity is acted out. Stories are told of conquests on and off the field – some of which are true and some of which are not. Don McPherson, a former NFL quarterback, tells of an experience he had …
I remember hearing my first inappropriate locker room conversation. … The biggest star on our team started making claims about what he had done recently in a bathroom with the prettiest girl in school. He was foul. I was upset because the girl was a friend. I said nothing. I did nothing.
Boys and girls model their behavior on how the adults in their lives act. They try things out. Those stories that get happy engagement or pats on the back – well you’ll tell more of those stories. If the group goes silent – or disengages?
When a culture is really bossy, peer pressure can force many to laugh at what isn’t funny just to show belonging. It is not an easy problem to solve.
As with so many challenges we face, if we know what to expect we can be better prepared to respond appropriately. What would you advise the teenage Don McPherson to say if he had a chance to do it all again?
Here is the Don McPherson article, Our sports need a healthier version of masculinity, and men need to create it.