Penn State

A lot of folks (who don’t normally talk about this sort of thing) are talking about child sexual abuse and all that is going on at Penn State. It is very interesting (and of course, horribly sad and devastating) and I feel like weighing in.

Not about the details but instead about how is it that someone can be “good” (like a great coach and leader for 46 years) AND “bad” (not a great figure of moral authority – yes he did the right thing by reporting it to the athletic director, but he failed all of us and his humanity by not following up once he saw that NOTHING was being done about it and that more kids were put in harm’s way).

It all makes me think of our executive director, Nan Stoops, talking about how “your performance is not who you are”. This is a complicated concept, especially when your performance makes you seem “good” but in reality you may suck at being a stand-up person who takes care of others and has kind of lost touch with your own humanity.

We’ve got honor, we’ve got pride

We are pleased to bring you this post from guest blogger Nan Stoops, our executive director.

Did you happen to read about the high school cheerleader who refused to cheer for the basketball player who had raped her? Hillaire S. was kicked off the cheer squad and, subsequently, sued her high school in an attempt to get reinstated.

She lost. In its ruling, a federal appeals court found that Hillaire’s First Amendment rights had not been violated. Essentially, because she was a cheerleader, the high school owned her voice and her speech was not protected. The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to review the case.

I could write more than a blog about the irony, agony, and lunacy of this legal justification. But not today. It’s Father’s Day, and I want to offer a big shout out to Hillaire’s dad, who supported his daughter throughout.

After the ruling, Hillaire’s father said: “My daughter has fought through it all.” Was it worth the $45,000 in legal fees? “Yes. If she had not fought, no one would have known what went on.”

To this dad, to my dad, and to dads everywhere who LISTEN to their daughters, BELIEVE us, believe IN us, STAND WITH us, to dads who know that no one owns our voices but us and that their silence does not protect us; to these Dads, I offer a simple and heartfelt thank you.

Happy Father’s Day!

… And the revolution starts in the stands, too

I’m not much into sports (unless “So You Think You Can Dance?” counts), but this report caught my ear while stuck in traffic.

Sports commentator Art Thiel weighs in on Rick Welts, president of the Phoenix Suns, and his recent decision to reveal that he is gay. Welts is the first high-profile sports figure to do so. I was happy to hear Thiel call this out as a positive step toward expanding views about masculinity in the professional sports community.

As we’ve seen, everyone loses when we confuse cockiness, violence, and the rampant pursuit of sex (consensual or not) for athleticism and sportsmanship. But while it’s exciting to see this shift in the sports world, Thiel reminds us that the real change depends upon all of us.Basketball wins my heart again

He invites all sports fans to stand up for authentic sportsmanship. In the stands we can respond to hateful trash talk by following Thiel’s simple advice. Let folks know: “I don’t need to hear that. My kids don’t need to hear that.”

Baseball season is almost here!

I would like to propose a toast.

Please raise your double mocha cappuccino latte delight to

our

very

own

Seattle Mariners!!!!!

Wait, wait, wait.

Even if you are not a baseball fan, hold onto your cup.

The Mariners are doing something that no other professional men’s team in America is doing. Taking on men’s violence against women. For years now the team has supported Refuse To Abuse™ with powerful messages about respect for women.

If we are serious about ending violence, then we can’t hope for a better platform to preach from than professional sports. Think about it. All those high-profile men who have harmed women. Even if you have never watched a sporting event in your life, you can name these infamous guys. Basketball, boxing, football… oh yes, and baseball.

Even as the Mariners call for respect for women, their roster includes Josh Lueke and Milton Bradley. They stammer through press statements about employing these men. The public and the media raise a stink. This, my friends, is progress!

But here’s even more good news: after the Lueke uproar, the Mariners could have walked away from Refuse To Abuse™ and gone back to ignoring violence against women like other teams do. But they didn’t. They are staying committed and working to figure out how to do this right. That’s integrity.

Lovers of baseball, let the Mariners know you appreciate their commitment to Refuse To Abuse™. If you are a fan of another team, get up off your couch and let your team know you want something as good as what we have going on here in Seattle.

Thank you Mariners. I am so proud of you. Now, get out there and play this great game well.

Cheers!

I love football

The Super Bowl has come and gone. But it’s left me thinking about masculinity and violence. Don’t assume I’m just another woman trying to rain on the manly mans’ celebration of blood, sweat and crunchy helmets. I love football. Seriously. I miss the Sunday afternoons on the couch, hollering at the TV, rooting for my team.

You know what else I love? Peaceful homes and couples who treat each other with kindness.

Now, I know the Super Bowl doesn’t cause domestic violence. Abuse happens every day, regardless of a football game. However, I do think that abuse in relationships can be linked to the qualities that we value in men in this country. Jackson Katz talks about this in his commentary on Ben Roethlisberger. Acting tough and treating women poorly is usually the best way to avoid being labeled weak or called some, um, colorful feminizing insult (as if being compared to a woman is the most terrible thing for a man).

After the Super Bowl, the director of a violence prevention organization in Iowa received death threats, death threats, just for running this ad suggesting that we can prevent violence by raising our boys differently. Let’s just dwell for a second on the irony here.

How about we make it perfectly normal for men to be kind, gentle and respectful? These qualities are not exclusive to women and we should value them more than aggression and brute force. There’s a great place for all that to stay — on the football field.

Our summer of discontent

We are pleased to bring you a post from our first guest blogger – Nan Stoops, our executive director.

I am a baseball fan. I love the game. I watch, I play, I coach.

My mother followed the Red Sox and raised me on the Cubs. Her mantra was “suffering builds character.” I never really understood it, but I knew better than to question her about baseball.

We partner with the Seattle Mariners on the Refuse To Abuse™ violence prevention campaign. For 13 years, the Mariners have been the only MLB team to focus on violence against women. Make no mistake, I am proud of this effort.

But 2010 has been rough. The Mariners made a remarkably fast exit from playoff contention. And then came the trade that brought us Josh Leuke – a minor league pitcher who had been charged with rape.

In dealing with the public reaction to this trade, the Mariners are experiencing what we have always known: doing the right thing is complicated. Especially during a losing season when fans are restless and unhappy. People ask me why we continue to partner with them. Here’s why.

With Refuse To Abuse™, the Mariners agree to be held to a high standard. We applaud that. We expect them to “walk the talk” and we know they will stumble. After all, learning and changing is a slow, painful process.

Justice requires 3 things: truth-telling, accountability, and restoration.  We expect that from everyone we work with. Including the Mariners.

For my home team, the degree to which “suffering builds character” remains to be seen. But the other thing my mother always said was, “quit while you’re ahead.” On the justice-front, we’re not ahead yet. So, in work and in baseball, I plan to keep showing up – until the pennant belongs to us.