If you haven’t seen or read about Cam Newton and his response to a female reporter’s question about football routes, you can watch it here.
It’s a great example of micro-aggressions and bias – conscious and unconscious. It also provides the opportunity to have a conversation about how insidious isms are in our society. And that’s what I’m writing about today, and hoping to talk about on Thursday (see below for call in details).
I had an interesting conversation with a friend over the weekend about Cam. His response: “Come on, that’s not sexist. What’s next?” It’s not an uncommon response to micro-aggressions. Because they are micro, they can slip under the radar for some. Mostly that ‘some’ in this case, will be men – but there will be women who won’t get it either. Because micro-aggressions support views that are still part of the fabric of our society. And that fabric impacts our words and actions – whether we are conscious of it, or not.
So here’s the thing about Cam Newton’s comments. He said out loud what likely many people (men and women) are likely thinking. And he got slammed. I’m not suggesting that we roll over and pretend it wasn’t said, and that we don’t call it out. But there are many reasons why sexism continues – and one of those reasons is that for a long time, when comments like this occurred, no one did anything about it. In fact, even today, micro-aggressions are not always dealt with. And the result? Those sentiments are perpetuated – consciously and unconsciously – because no one stands up to say they are wrong.
So Cam has lost some of his sponsors. Harsh, but good – because isms have consequences for those who are the target of them, and often the person who made the statement or did the action has none. So it’s good that companies are taking a hard line around discrimination. (Of course, which isms have the hard lines and which don’t could be the topic of another blog post…)
Cam Newton has also issued an apology. His last line is directed to young people: “Don’t be like me, be better than me.”
Yes! We should always aspire for the next generation to be smarter, more compassionate, more open. And how does this occur? Through education, thoughtful conversation, and by connecting with each other.
Conversations and Connection
I’d like to see Cam and Jourdan have a conversation. I’d like to see and hear Jourdan tell Cam how it felt to hear those comments, and I’d like to hear his response. I’d like to hear Cam tell Jourdan what was so funny about her asking about Routes, and I’d like to hear her response. I’d like them to have a conversation about it that shows us the reality that sexism (in this case) can co-exist with the belief that your daughters can be anything they want to be. I want a conversation that allows us to see the humanity of those involved, and the opportunity mistakes afford us to see more and learn more about each other.
We need to talk, people! It’s how we build connection and community, and how we learn from our mistakes – heck, it’s often how we learn we have made mistakes! Because not every micro-aggression happens on public television: Most of them happen with few or no witnesses, leaving a wake of hurt and the continuation of unconscious bias, discrimination, and isms… and leaving the people involved no wiser.
Want to talk more about sexism, what it looks like, and how we address it?
Join me live on Zoom from 2:30pmEST-3:00pmEST on Friday, October 13th.