Donald McPherson, a former NFL and Canadian Football League quarterback, has taken on the role of social activist. After playing football with the Philadelphia Eagles, Houston Oilers, Hamilton Tiger-Cats, and Ottawa Rough Riders, he has made it his mission to prove that “women’s issues,” such as sexual and domestic violence, are men’s issues too.
In 2013, McPherson wrote an article for CNN entitled, “To Stem Violence Against Women, Men Must Step Up.” Throughout the article, he encouraged men to step up to the plate and fight for women. McPherson has been working to bring men together to stop violence against women since 1994. He stated, “Men do not just need to stop being violent. The vast majority of men are not violent. But men do need to stop being silent. Calling violence against women, whether street harassment or sexual harassment or rape or murder, a ‘women’s issue’ allows men to ignore it as if we have no responsibility for it or stake in ending it.”
McPherson acknowledges that men have been leading efforts to put an end to domestic violence for decades but he asks, “How many men actually hear the call to join in the fight?” It’s not enough to know when something is wrong, men have to become active in the movement and speak up when they hear or see someone doing or saying something that is wrong.
He states, “We all have grandmothers, mothers, sisters, daughters and female friends and colleagues. Our lives are inextricably interwoven; women’s issues of safety and equality directly affect our lives as men. Beyond that, women are humans, with the same rights to safety and freedom as men. It is therefore our moral responsibility to not remain silent or passively on the sidelines, but to be actively engaged in confronting this problem in every corner of homes, communities and societies.”
McPherson challenges men to become active in the movement to end violence against women, and he reminds everyone that even confronting small things can help inspire change. By standing up for women “you can show that giving a damn about equality makes you a better man.”
He reminds us of the role media has played in our lives and how it “desensitizes our boys and girls to the reality of violence that is anything but the subtext of a life. Our silence only validates that script. We can speak out against it.”
In his article, McPherson spoke about joining a campaign entitled “One million men. One million promises.” The campaign is a part of an organization called Breakthrough, which works to prevent violence against women by changing the way we view norms and cultures that enable it.
As McPherson states, “You don’t have to be a mayor or an NFL player to have a major impact. You don’t have to be like the New York City firefighters who recently tackled the guy attacking his wife with a meat cleaver in broad daylight. Small — even non-“heroic” — actions add up. Challenge norms. Change culture. Make violence against women unacceptable.”
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