Once upon a time, I was a middle school student who hated the walk to and from math class. I also hated the walk to and from gym class. I ALSO hated the gym locker room. Let’s face it, I hated pretty much everywhere at school that wasn’t in a classroom, because chances are I would find my way into the path of a bully.
That’s me alright. I was a 5’6, 110 pound, boy scout uniform wearing, trumpet playing, straight A achieving, bowling enthusiast that seemed to be a target for most any level of slander a 12-14 year old boy could muster. Throughout time there seems to be this notion that you should call someone a “f*ggot” if they fit this mold, as if firing a derogatory term of homosexuality is the only way to truly describe who I was. While I was hit with a much wider arsenal of terms than that, I’ll focus on this one as it ties directly to the article I chose for this week.
In the article, a professional football player named Dominic Raiola, who plays for the Detroit Lions, has some very harsh and offensive comments made public. During warm-ups before their game against the Green Bay Packers, Dominic is said to have made a consistent series of hateful and derogatory comments towards multiple members of the Wisconsin band. According to one band member, Raiola made comments regarding his sexuality, as well as other insults involving his sister and recently deceased mother. An additional band member confirmed this story, adding that one such insult was “[Raiola] was going to take his trumpet and shove it up his sister’s p***y” in addition to Raiola “repeatedly calling him a f*g.” According to this band member “as soon as we stopped for our position to play the National Anthem I just heard [Raiola] yelling continually at him (Tom Melton, 2013).”
While this is extremely offensive no matter what way you twist it, it sat very close to home for me as someone who has been through similar treatment, and also as someone who respects the game of football. I was fortunate enough to grow from the experience, and find myself filling empathetic shoes nowadays, but the long term effects of bullying can be very damaging. The male gender role is one that is stereo-typically described as being tough, stoic, and independent (Hays and Erdford, 2010), which would most certainly describe a professional football player more specifically than it would me. However, society has twisted this idea and pushed it so far that even now, in 2013, we see young men being verbally abused for not fitting the mold of what it is to be masculine. It is sad to see a professional athlete be so crude and offensive in his language, but I can only hope that, because of this spotlight, more athletes speak out against this sort of behavior.