Jameis Winston said dumb, sexist thing, but, hey, it's not like he's influential or anything

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Um...fumble? - Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

It was supposed to be an inspirational talk for children at a predominantly African-American elementary school in an area where poverty abounds and opportunity does not, delivered by a wildly successful NFL player. Instead, it was a nationally reported story about bone-headed sexism at a time when the stakes couldn't be higher.

For the most part, Tampa Bay Times sports columnist Tom Jones notes, Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston's motivational speech to children at south St. Petersburg's Melrose Elementary School was heartfelt. The pro-sports superstar who could have been literally anywhere else, but he chose to spend his time telling disadvantaged youth they had the potential to be anything they want to be.

But then Winston indicated that those words of encouragement were only meant for some of the kids in the room—the ones with Y-chromosomes.

It happened, according to Jones' account and a tweet Winston later sent out, when a kid or two started to fidget, and Winston was trying to reel them back in, which is understandable.

But here's what he said in an effort to achieve that end (emphasis is ours):

All my young boys, stand up. The ladies, sit down. But all my boys, stand up. We strong, right? We strong! We strong, right? All my boys, tell me one time: I can do anything I put my mind to. Now a lot of boys aren't supposed to be soft-spoken. You know what I'm saying? One day y'all are going to have a very deep voice like this (in deep voice). One day, you'll have a very, very deep voice. But the ladies, they're supposed to be silent, polite, gentle. My men, my men (are) supposed to be strong. I want y'all to tell me what the third rule of life is: I can do anything I put my mind to. Scream it!

In other words, he told a room full of disadvantaged children that females are to be seen and not heard and should never speak up for themselves or aspire to anything, but dudes can do whatever they want as long as they're tough and assertive.

Though he said he didn't intend for those remarks to sound misogynistic, they seemed especially insensitive because of that whole rape accusation thing a few years back. (If nobody's buying that his comments Wednesday didn't inadvertently reveal profound, innate sexism, perhaps now he'll know what it's like to not be believed.)

There's a greater context here.

We're all living in a milieu where thrice-married reality show loudmouth Donald Trump can brag about groping women without their consent and getting away with it because he's rich, and he gets to be president. By the way: aside from statuesque and fashionable, what word would you use to best describe Trump's wife, who is supposed to, as First Lady, be an inspiration to women and girls across the planet? 

Silent would be a good start.

In other words, while your intentions to give hope to those kids, who are stuck at one of the most troubled schools in the state were noble, a little situational awareness (and maybe some serious evaluation of your own personal belief system and sense of entitlement as both a male and as a fucking pro-football star) can go a long way.

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