Former NFL player Don McPherson on Sept. 10 lead an engaging and interactive discussion about sexual violence prevention, consensual sex and male privilege giving a lecture hosted by the Shippensburg University Women’s Center.
McPherson, a college football Hall of Famer, former NFL and CFL player, led a candid, open discussion with SU athletes, students and staff members in a packed H Ric Luhrs Performing Arts Center.
“We’re at a really precarious point of conversation during this time,” McPherson said.
After referring to current events such as the #MeToo movement and behavior of many “powerful” men in today’s society, McPherson said, “We need to find a way to have an honest discussion about the things we’ve been taught not to talk about.”
McPherson also shared his family’s experience with alcoholism.
“We didn’t talk about my grandfather’s alcoholism. We didn’t talk about my uncle’s. My brother is an alcoholic. We saw the signs, but remained silent, allowing the problems to continue to exist.”
The theme of the night was candid, open conversations. McPherson explained that in today’s society, no one really talks about sex.
“We tell you sex is dirty, awful and you shouldn’t do it. But in the same sentence we say, ‘save it for the one you love,’” McPherson said.
Later in the evening, McPherson discussed male privilege.
“Let’s use the blue lights around campus for example. Guys, you probably don’t even know what I’m talking about. Ladies know where they all are because it could be life or death. For us to ignore this problem, it’s male privilege.”
He continued by talking about how a number of problems in today’s society are related to male privilege.
“Baylor, Penn State and Michigan State will pay out more than a billion dollars for the men who made bad decisions.”
He continued, “Billions of dollars and people could have been saved if we could have open conversations about [sexual violence].”
McPherson spoke directly to the men in the room, giving them dating advice.
“Just because you buy a woman a drink and she drinks it, doesn’t mean that you’re in. You don’t even have to buy her a drink. It’s Shippensburg man, just go talk to her!”
McPherson ended the night by talking about the “box of masculinity.”
“This [box] is a lie. A man should be vulnerable and caring. It’s not a bad thing.”
He shared a situation in college where he made a comment about a woman [which he regrets], to save his “masculinity.”
“By protecting my masculinity, I was hurting the woman I was with by making her seem like ‘that’ kind of person,” he said.
McPherson ended his almost two hour discussion by giving out his email address and Twitter handle so students could have someone to speak with.
“Let’s make a change. Let’s open up the conversation.”