A Good Week For Progress: Boy Scouts, Football, and America’s Man Caves

A Good Week For Progress: Boy Scouts, Football, and America’s Man Caves July 29, 2015

I live in Kansas–which, let’s face it, has never been the most forward-thinking place, but has lately begun to feel like an out-lying “District” in some dystopian YA novel. Conceal carry WiTHOUT A PERMIT for everyone! Who cares what the Supreme Court says about marriage equality–NOT HAPPENING AT OUR HOUSE! Let’s de-regulate industrial standards so we can just go ahead and turn our air and water into poison, and hey, while we’re at it, we’re going to oh-so-gradually de-fund public education while nobody’s looking. Doesn’t matter if our kids are stupid… our state will be uninhabitable by the time their grownups anyway, so whatevs.

Ok, sorry. I’m done now. ANYway, since this is the state in which we live, I will take any opportunity to celebrate progress in, you know, elsewhere. Any small steps towards making the world not such a bass-ackward place. I wrote this post a few weeks ago, celebrating a series of hopeful news events. Now I’m wondering if I could start a “good week for progress” series–highlighting all the local and global ways in which people SOMEwhere, anywhere, take steps towards a more peaceful, just and forward-thinking existence.

Photo Cred

For this week’s installment, let’s talk about how the  NFL– one of the most dude-centric organizations on the planet–just hired it’s first female coach. !! Let’s all just agree that I  know nothing about football, other than that my husband gets inordinately happy about Sundays starting in early fall… Beyond his fandom, I don’t really have a dog in this hunt. But I am always excited to see a woman bust up into a place where women have never been allowed before. “I want little girls everywhere to grow up knowing they can do anything, even play football,” says new-hire Jen Welter. We hear that. It’s like the Beyonce SuperBowl show up in here!

Just last year, the NFL launched it’s “No More” campaign against domestic violence. If that is any indication–combined with the hiring of actual girls within their ranks–then here’s hoping there is more good news to come. Like maybe a zero tolerance policy re: their players beating up on girls? It might be too little too late… but it is something.

Speaking of too little too late… The Boy Scouts of America finally dropped their ‘zero tolerance’ policy Re: gay scout leaders. While individual chapters will still have the right to make their own rules about who can and can’t serve… this is at least a smalls step for the organization at large. I want to celebrate this… but part of me really does think it’s been too long coming, and is now an anticlimactic and tragically tiny step. Don’t ‘scouts’ pride themselves on being leaders? Blazing trails? Setting out into territory that is uncertain and uncomfortable? If so, then they have failed miserably, thus far, at leading in matters of social change.

That said–I also appreciate the values of civic responsibility, community, and concern for the environment that Boy Scouts instill in young men everywhere. And I will hold out hope that, like the NFL, this entirely dude-centric (and straight-dude-centric, at that) organization is showing signs of life in regard to shifting social norms in rigidly engendered climates.  Because those places–where ‘manliness’ is so fiercely defined and women’s roles so drastically limited– creep out into the rest of culture. Whether we care about football or not, and whether we’ve ever been in Boy Scouts, we should care deeply that the most highly visible “man caves” in our society make efforts to break down some of the harmful barriers that make life unfair–even dangerous–for girls, women and non-hetero-normative men.

Who run the world? Jen Welter. And this kid.

See more signs of hopeful progress? Send me links, quotes, images, etc. I’ll try to run an installment of this series at least once a month. And wouldn’t it be wonderful if it had to be more often than that? As with so many things… we hope. And as always, we ask… What’s next?


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