The numbers are hard to argue. What I found interesting wasn’t just the different lives these two men lived, but that healthy living is somehow a partisan issue. As long as that’s the case, there are going to be a lot of people who think living an unhealthy life is a exercise in political freedom.
When the David Beckham underwear ad for clothing retailer H&M came on during the Super Bowl, CNN’s Roland Martin took to Twitter to comment on it. Now, Martin is under fire from gay rights group GLAAD.
Here are Martin’s tweets:
Ain’t no real bruhs going to H&M to buy some damn David Beckham underwear! #superbowl
Critics also point to a history of remarks including this piece he wrote on his website in 2006. In the post, he equates homosexuality to sinful behavior like stealing and infidelity and says his wife, a Baptist minister, “has counseled many men and women to walk away from the gay lifestyle.”
Fam, let me address the issue that some in the LGBT community have raised regarding some of my Super Bowl tweets yesterday. I made several cracks about soccer as I do all the time. I was not referring to sexuality directly or indirectly regarding the David Beckham ad, and I’m sorry folks took it otherwise. It was meant to be a deliberately over the top and sarcastic crack about soccer; I do not advocate violence of any kind against anyone gay, or not. As anyone who follows me on Twitter knows, anytime soccer comes up during football season it’s another chance for me to take a playful shot at soccer, nothing more.
Martin’s Twitter timeline is filled with protestations that he was just talking about soccer. Even if that’s the case, he implies football is a better sport because it’s manlier. And because it’s better and manly, it should beat up inferior and less manly sports – presumably, like soccer – and the people who like them. By saying a “real bruh” wouldn’t buy David Beckham’s underwear and by suggesting followers should “smack the ish [shit]” out of someone who likes the ad, he basically said my sport is better, manlier, and can kick the shit out of you and your sport.
Every now and then someone will tell me a story, when suddenly, it sounds like nails on a chalkboard. They’ll say, “And then there was this big black guy.”
“Big and black??” I’ll say if I’m feeling cheeky. “Oh no.”
The story usually falls apart from there.
This isn’t to say there aren’t imposing and intimidating black men, as there are imposing and intimidating men of every race. Some rappers purposely strike an intimidating pose to show how tough and strong they are. That intimidation, though, also has to do with perception.
In a New York Times piece about white female rappers, Touré writes:
For many Americans, black male rappers are entrancing because they give off a sense of black masculine power — that sense of strength, ego and menace that derives from being part of the street — or because of the seductive display of black male cool.
In that passage, he writes as much about rappers as the public’s view of them: Menacing. Seductive.
The same is true for the person who tells the story with “the big black guy.” That description often says more about the storyteller than the person in the story.
A couple of weeks ago, I posted the video of Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum campaigning at an Iowa brewery where he talked an awful lot about the beers he likes and dislikes. Because he seemed like he was showing off his beer knowledge to prove what a down-to-earth and tough guy he is, I joked, “Maybe he’ll be the first candidate to have a photo-op on a hunting trip.”
The video below isn’t a photo-op, but with just a week and a day from that interview to the Iowa Caucuses, Santorum spent a lot of air-time on Fox News talking about pheasant kills.
After beer and guns, is there anything else he needs to say to prove he’s a manly man, and therefore, fit to be the president?
Jon Huntsman appeared on “The View” this Tuesday a few hours before Donald Trump pulled out of hosting a Republican debate because of lack of interest. Huntsman rightfully asserted that if Trump wants to influence the presidential race, the real estate tycoon and shameless self-promoter should get in the race and not influence it from the sidelines. While doing it, he questioned if he has the cojones to run. (“The View” muted him, so you’ll have to read his lips.)
Rick Santorum made a campaign stop at the Millstream Brewery in Iowa last weekend. He talks at length at the different kinds of beer he likes, which isn’t a problem. I like beer as much as the next guy. It’s his last line that stands out: ”I don’t do wine tasting. I do beer tasting,” No wimpy wine tastings for him. Maybe he’ll be the first candidate to have a photo-op on a hunting trip.
The fact that men are mainly responsible for violent and health-harming behaviours, not only against women and children but also against each other, is so taken for granted that it slips beneath the radar of commentators and policymakers.
The authors quote numerous statistics to make their point:
In 2009-10, men were perpetrators in 91% of all violent incidents in England and Wales. The figures vary by type of incident: 81% for domestic violence, 86% for assault, 94% for wounding, 96% for mugging, 98% for robbery. [U.K. Ministry of Justice] figures for 2009 show men to be responsible for 98%, 92% and 89% of sexual offences, drug offences and criminal damage respectively. Of child sex offenders, 99% are male. The highest percentages of female offences concern fraud and forgery (30%), and theft and handling stolen goods (21% female).
Men even commit more traffic and speeding violations – 87% and 81% respectively. Men are responsible for the vast majority of dangerous driving offenses (97%) and accidents causing injury or death (94%).
On the financial side, the Cockburn and Oakley project the money saved from injuries of the crimes themselves, lost work and productivity, and the costs of trying and incarcerating criminals would be in the tens of billions of British pounds.
I don’t doubt any of these numbers. I’m sure the statistics trend similarly in the United States. Our prisoners are overwhelming male: over 90%. And I wouldn’t be surprised if prison costs in the U.S. were even more than in the U.K. given our comparatively larger prison population.
Cockburn and Oakley conclude with:
The case we are making is that certain widespread masculine traits and behaviours are dangerous and costly both to individuals and society. They are amenable to purposeful change. The culture of masculinity can be, and should be, addressed as a policy issue.
Before Herman Cain was accused of sexual harassment, and before the allegation of a 13-year affair came to light, the former Godfather’s Pizza CEO gave an interview to GQ magazine. Actually, it was more of a pizza party in which they talked about things like Cain’s 9-9-9 Plan over slices. But they talked about pizzas, too. Here’s a bit of it:
[GQ Correspondent]Chris Heath: What can you tell about a man by the type of pizza that he likes?
Herman Cain:[repeats the question aloud, then pauses for a long moment] The more toppings a man has on his pizza, I believe the more manly he is.
Chris Heath: Why is that?
Herman Cain: Because the more manly man is not afraid of abundance. [laughs]
[GQ Senior Editor]Devin Gordon: Is that purely a meat question?
Herman Cain:A manly man don’t want it piled high with vegetables! He would call that a sissy pizza.
Another GOP candidate touted their manliness as a qualification for office on Nov. 16.
“If we want to change this country up…I’m your man,” [GOP presidential candidate Rep. Michele] Bachmann said in Webster City, Iowa, on Wednesday. “When people think of the president, they think of who is that individual. And I’m willing to ‘man up,’ so to speak, for the job and do what needs to be done… I’m a very strong woman.”
So, it’s started. The candidates are beginning to man up for the election.
All of this may be moot. Bachmann has been down in the polls for weeks, and Cain may drop out by the end of the week. But these probably won’t be the last flexing their manly muscles. What’s interesting is that it doesn’t matter if the candidate is a man or woman. For some, manliness is a qualification for office.
Which of the pizzas served at the GQ interview did Cain like the most? It shouldn’t be a surprise: “The man pizza!” he said. “The manly pizza! That was great.”
When Bill Maher* appeared on “The View” Tuesday, everyone talked about his very uncomfortable exchange with Elisabeth Hasselbeck. (His joke may have been bad, but she took it more personally than she admitted. And worse, she was a bad host.)
But what may have gone overlooked was what Maher said before things got awkward with Hasselbeck. Co-host Joy Behar asked Maher about what he thought about the child sex abuse charges against former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.
Maher: Well, you know, I uh.. you’d like this, ’cause I said on my show Friday night, that any institution where there’s no women around, like the church, like football, like the Middle East, like fraternities, it just goes to hell. You do need..
Behar: Boys are bad.
Maher: Well, you do need women as a moderating influence. I mean, when men are just among men, they just do stupid things. That’s really true.
Is Maher on to something? Are individuals in those institutions and others more likely to do bad things? Does something happen when men get together that cause bad things to happen? And if so, what can we, as a society, do to change that?
Was he right that women have a moderating influence on men?
Watch the video and leave your comments below.
(The exchange begins at about 0:46.)
*Disclosure: I work for HBO who airs his weekly show.
All forms of media are blowing up with reaction to the firing of Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, the rape and sex abuse charges against former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, and the blind eye so many at Penn State turned to it. There’s a lot going on here: idolatry; the culture of college sports; people within institutions not holding themselves and their institutions accountable.
This story is multi-faceted with so many different angles, causes and repercussions, I wanted to put some them together to try to find some context.
The nomenclature surrounding “sex crimes” is already hopelessly sterile, and the media routinely refers to cases of rape and sexual assault as “sex scandals,” but that makes it no less important to call them out every time they do it.
Sandusky is not accused of “having sex” with little boys, he is accused of raping them. In our civilization, “sex” with a child is not possible, since a child cannot consent to sex. As I half-listened to the news all day today, then, and I heard repeated references to “the Penn State sex scandal,” it pissed me off. It made my blood steam a little bit, like a hot cup of coffee.
(I would apply this criticism to the Dominique Strauss-Kahn alleged sexual assault which was often referred to as a “sex scandal.”)
Many have made the connection between the cover-up at Penn State and the Catholic Church’s cover-up of child molestation. Maureen Dowd made it in her Tuesday column in the New York Times:
Like the Roman Catholic Church, Penn State is an arrogant institution hiding behind its mystique. And sports, as my former fellow sports columnist at The Washington Star, David Israel, says, is “an insular world that protects its own, and operates outside of societal norms as long as victories and cash continue to flow bountifully.” Penn State rakes in $70 million a year from its football program.