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Ex-NFL QB McPherson sees ‘blind spot’ of masculinity hurting men

November 23, 2018

To former NFL quarterback Don McPherson, the “blind spot of masculinity” is hurting men, inhibiting their ability to show human emotions.

“We (men) are incapable of exhibiting the full range of emotions,” such as being caring and kind, McPherson said before a speech Monday at Saint Vincent College’s Fred M. Rogers Center near Latrobe. He considers some language as setting a standard of narrow expectations of masculinity, while also establishing that women are less than men.

McPherson, 53, has played for the Philadelphia Eagles, Houston Oilers and two Canadian Football League teams. He quarterbacked the undefeated 1987 Syracuse football team.

A national speaker and advocate for the prevention of sexual and domestic violence, McPherson uses the appeal of sports to focus on a positive understanding of the masculine identity -- one that does not downgrade women.

Since his playing days ended, he has conducted workshops and lectures at more than 250 colleges, community organizations and national sports and violence prevention groups.

The Brooklyn, N.Y. native is a self-described feminist.

But McPherson contradicts the stereotypical feminist.

He believes men are more sensitive than women, an opinion that might raise eyebrows. He explained men may be “very sensitive to any threats ... affronts to our masculinity.” Such challenges set men off to the extent they feel they have “to defend their narrow definition of masculinity” by fighting anyone challenging their masculinity, particularly when they are with friends and don’t want to lose face.

The “blind spot of masculinity” keeps men from engaging in the conversation and discussion about themselves when it comes to issues such as sexual assault and sexual violence, issues they refer to as “women’s issues.”

“We very often look at how it impacts women, but it impacts men first. The ‘blind spot of masculinity’ is those things that as men we don’t address, we don’t talk about and don’t engage in conversations in a way that is beneficial to ourselves,” McPherson said.

The nation is better off than it was 10 or 15 years ago, McPherson said, because progress and improvements are being made.

Even as “there are a lot of people who hold on to the way things used to be, women’s voices are coalescing around the #MeToo Movement. Society is changing and I think that is a good thing,” McPherson said.

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