It seems like whenever something from a college paper gets on the feminist grapevine, it’s because some young dumbass has produced a small-minded misoygnist turd for their community of readers—“she was asking for it”-style rape apology is by far the most popular—and people are up in arms about it. (To be fair, both male and female students have been guilty of this).
So I was extra-excited when Harpyness reader Meredith R. sent me a link to a most excellent piece that ran on InsideColby, the website/newspaper/online community of Colby College in Maine. Written by Florida-born hockey player and recent graduate Cody McKinney, it’s titled “Redefining Masculinity” and details his awakening to toxic gender stereotypes, as well as feminist and pro-LGBT activism—although it should be noted that the F word is never actually used. He writes:
What does it take to embody the characteristics of the ideal male college student in 21st-century America?
Popular culture and social norms suggest he is an athlete, probably in one of the contact-intensive spectator sports. He is strong both physically and mentally. He is stoic. He goes out at least three nights a week and can hold his liquor. He gets a lot of women. He calls his friends’ masculinity into question, often using homophobic or sexist epithets.
But, as I’ve come to see, that “ideal” male is ignorant, too—ignorant of the damage he is doing to himself and his community by using offensive language, treating women as objects, and masking his true personality. And he is ignorant of his contribution to the negative stereotypes of male athletes. As harsh as this sounds, I feel I can say this because I recognize at least some parts of that profile when I look in a mirror. Yes, I was ignorant. But I’m not alone. Some of these dubious traits afflict many male athletes growing up in the United States. As I look back, some were the effects of my community on me; some I chose.
From the day we are born we are influenced by our surroundings—families, friends, teachers, and the media. They affect how we act, speak, and dress, and they tell us what it means to be a man. The society we live in values hyper-masculinity by idolizing athletes and pop culture icons—the likes of Kobe Bryant, Tiger Woods, and the cast of Jersey Shore—and these individuals help create an image of the ideal man that far too many kids aspire to achieve.
It is time to change this ideal, and the best place to start is here. Now.
Read on to hear how Cody and some of his friends went about creating change at their college. Whenever I read a nasty piece of sexist crap written by a college student, I always secretly hope it will come back to bite its author in the ass when some HR recruiter or potential employer uncovers it and turns them down for a job. In this case, I hope someone reads this and gives Cody a great job that will enable him to continue being the change he wishes to see in the world. Kudos to you, Cody McKinney.