Last Saturday, while the world was recovering from Beyonce breaking the internet, Jameis Winston, quarterback for the Florida State University Seminoles, won the coveted Heisman trophy. Anyone who watches college football knows that it was really no contest; that Winston was clearly the best player in college football this year. Yet, until very recently it wasn’t clear if Winston would win. That, of course, had to do with sexual assault charges brought forth by a former FSU student. After several weeks of investigation, authorities determined that there was not enough evidence to charge Winston. As such, voters for the Heisman Trophy apparently felt all right with granting the award to Winston.
I listen to a lot of sports radio. I heard more than a few segments on the Winston case. (Bad call on my part, I know.) What struck me–and perhaps it shouldn’t have–is that there was always a caller whose comment basically wanted to discuss athletes and celebrities are constantly in situations where women are pursuing them, and when things don’t go there way… The implication, of course, is that this is what happened to Winton.
Now, there are plenty of blogs and commentary about the way that you stop sexual assault isn’t by telling women to dress conservatively, not to drink, etc., but to teach mean not to sexually assault women. That line of logical thinking has gotten plenty of backlash, despite the fact that it is clearly the key to end sexual assault. Men, I suppose, only want to be responsible for destroying the world on a much broader, less specific level. Still, though, I’d like add on to this idea.
Men need to stop weaving this predatory women tale and start taking responsibility for their behavior and their actions. Since I never have been and nor will I ever be a male athlete or celebrity, I cannot speak to the reality of their lives or situations. I must assume, though, that since so many notable folks act in ways that I find bizarre, that their experience, their reality must be quite different from mine. But I don’t think that that experience stops folks from being agents. The whole “women are predators trying to make a come up” line is the poorest of excuses. It implies that if a woman is in pursuit of you, you have absolutely no control whatsoever. And that just isn’t true. If men can call radio shows, tweet, Facebook status, etc. about how women aggressively pursue them in hopes that they will hit some kind of jackpot, then men need to avoid such situations. Seriously. If this is what’s happening in the streets and men know it, then men need to change the way they act in these streets. It’s really simple. If being big man on campus includes women coming out of the woodworks trying to holler, maybe men need to stop hollering back, instead of waiting until they get caught up to demean the women who allegedly pursue them with such vengeance.
If men don’t want sexual assault cases looming in the background, then perhaps they should stop trying to sleep with every woman who breathes in their direction. If men have an image, freedom, or anything else of value to protect, perhaps they should start behaving that way. They need to start understanding that just like they can make decisions on the playing field, they can make decision off the field: the decision not to believe that men are beasts with no (sexual) control, that these women allegedly in such pursuit have rendered them helpless, that when it all falls down they had nothing to do with it. Because if Winston, Kobe, etc. had just said no when the opportunity presented itself, what would have happened then? I’ll wait.