SR’s Fab 5 is a collection of inside scoop, analysis and insight from yours truly, PewterReport.com publisher and Bucs beat writer Scott Reynolds. Here are a few things that caught my attention this week at One Buc Place and around the NFL.
FAB 1. WINSTON’S INTENT MISCONSTRUED AT MELROSE
I read Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones’ latest missive entitled “Jameis Winston’s pep talk to kids sends wrong message” and I had to shake my head in disbelief over how much has been made over a small, unintentional mistake.
A poor word choice.
I wasn’t there at Melrose Elementary School in St. Petersburg, Fla. for Winston’s visit on Wednesday, but I saw the video of Winston speaking to the kids on the Times’ website and read Jones’ column. I’m friendly with Jones and he is one of my absolute favorite sports columnists – and he knows it – even though we disagree philosophically on some issues. So please don’t interpret my retort as a personal attack towards him or the Times, which it’s not.
But I do have a drastically different view than Jones and the Times over what Winston said – and what he meant – at Melrose Elementary School.
Bucs QB Jameis Winston – Photo courtesy of Buccaneers.com
During Winston’s talk with the class he noticed a young boy that looked bored and he decided to shift gears and wake everybody up. According to Jones, that’s where it all went wrong.
“All my young boys, stand up. The ladies, sit down,” Winston said. “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!”
Did Winston really say girls are supposed to be silent?
Maybe Winston didn’t mean it the wrong way, but he has his own past and there are far too many male athletes with attitudes about girls and women that evoke too, too troubling visions that simply can’t be ignored.
While the moment might not have been malicious, it was damaging. It was hurtful. No little girl should ever be told that she is supposed to be silent. No little girl should ever be made to feel subservient.
At a time in this country when women are still fighting the battle to be equal to men, to be paid like men, to be respected like men, the last thing a little girl should ever be told is to be silent. At a time when little girls, including the ones at Melrose Elementary, are struggling with their identity and roles in this world, they should never get the message that they are to be quiet.
Winston’s trigger word here for Jones – and others that may have been offended – is the word “silent.”
What I inferred when watching the video, and what I think Winston was intending to say, was that ladies should be “quiet” instead of “silent” – meaning not loud or obnoxious – “polite,” and “gentle.”
That’s being ladylike.
That’s the way my mother, who always stressed manners to me and raised me as a gentleman, was brought up. To me, Winston was not trying to tell the young girls in attendance to shut up and not say a word.
Nor did he say that girls couldn’t be strong.
Winston said the word “silent,” which was the wrong word, though. And he later clarified his remark as quoted in the Times.
Bucs QB Jameis Winston – Photo by: Mark Cook/PR
“I was making an effort to interact with a young male in the audience who didn’t seem to be paying attention, and I didn’t want to single him out so I asked all the boys to stand up,” Winston was quoted in the Times. “During my talk, I used a poor word choice that may have overshadowed that positive message for some.”
“For some” – meaning the “hypersensitive thought police” who actually found some offense over the fact that Winston misspoke.
Those words “hypersensitive thought police” are mine – not Winston’s.
There are some that want to paint Winston as a sexist over using the wrong word.
There was no damage done here, folks.
No girls were crying from what I could tell. No dreams were shattered.
I’m kind of incredulous over the fact that this whole thing has been blown out of proportion by some in the local and the national media. The fact that this story made it all the way to PFT and ESPN doesn’t surprise me given their particular slants, but it’s a bit disheartening.
Winston didn’t commit a crime at Melrose Elementary.
He misspoke, but I believe his intention was pure. And Winston didn’t have to go volunteer his time in the offseason to speak to kids, either.
Winston wanted to – just like he does at other schools, and with his youth football camp and the time he gives to Special Olympics.
I hold women in high regard. My mother is the big football fan in the family that turned me on to the game that I have loved since I was five years old, and the game that I have made a professional career covering for the past 23 years.
I’m married. I have two daughters that I’m raising, and throughout the years I have told them to be “gentle,” to be “polite,” and yes, to be “quiet” – as in not being loud or obnoxious. That’s being ladylike, in my opinion. That’s how my mother was raised and that’s how I’m raising my girls.
That doesn’t mean that my girls aren’t strong mentally and physically. That doesn’t mean that girls shouldn’t be strong.
That doesn’t mean my girls don’t speak up and that their voices aren’t heard. Women shouldn’t be silent, and I don’t think Winston intended to use that word. He chose poorly in the heat of the moment. It really is no big deal.
Bucs QB Jameis Winston – Photo courtesy of Buccaneers.com
I believe Winston’s intention was to suggest that ladies be ladylake, and I identify with that line of thinking. That’s why I wasn’t offended when he said it. I was able to discern what he meant.
Political correctness has run amok in our society where people take everything so literally. These days it seems like inferring and discerning are a lost art.
I am for women’s rights and equal pay, but I don’t want chivalry to ever die as a result of radical feminism.
I’ll take issue with one last item Jones wrote about.
This isn’t about upbringing. This isn’t about culture. This isn’t about what some people think the Bible says. This isn’t about the fact that Winston just turned 23 years old. This was an ugly stereotype that has done so much harm for far too long.
Simply put, it was wrong to suggest that little girls should be viewed as different than little boys, but worse, should behave different than little boys.
Wow. Talk about hyperbole.
I’ll leave religion out of it, but this is about upbringing and this is about culture. It’s about chivalry.
My boys are raised to be gentlemen, and my girls are raised to be ladies. There are some different behaviors there associated with chivalry.
My sons hold the doors open for ladies. Can my daughters open doors for themselves? Yes, they are certainly strong enough to do so, but they don’t, and they do appreciate the boys doing it for them.
My wife is able to order for herself at restaurants or get in the car by herself, but I do that for her as a chivalrous act.
My wife is fully capable of checking around the house at 2:00 a.m. if she hears a strange noise, but instead wakes me up and expects me to do it. Does that make her any less strong or capable than I?
No, she would just prefer me to do the honors because I’m the strong male of the house and that’s my chivalrous role. That’s the culture in our home.
My wife is also strong and capable enough to pull the trigger on the gun that protects our family if there was an intruder, although she would prefer me to have that confrontation because I’m the strong male of the house and that’s my chivalrous role.
As for the behavior issue that Jones brings up, there are some pretty fundamental differences in behavior between men and women. A quick look down your drawers will point out the obvious biological differences.
I pee standing up and use urinals, which aren’t found in women’s restrooms (so I’ve been told). That’s a behavioral difference.
I have never had a menstrual cycle, so I certainly behave differently than a woman does a few days each month due to a hormonal shift and the pain that comes with it – a pain that I’ve never felt.
There are some areas and behaviors in which boys and girls are different, and that’s okay. I’m all for general equality, but men and women were created differently for various reasons. Those differences in traits and behaviors should be celebrated – not condemned.
Bucs QB Jameis Winston – Photo by: Getty Images
I think we’ve come a long way in society with regards to women’s rights, and I certainly don’t think Winston believes little girls should grow up to live in the kitchen and be barefoot and pregnant.
Where we do have a ways to go as a society is getting back to discernment – the “oh, that’s what he meant” inferences – and forgiveness for simple mistakes rather than public condemnation.
It’s a shame that some people will read the headlines and the quotes, and won’t watch the video and understand the context. They’ll continue to beat up on Winston’s character and now they have a new charge – sexism.
Don’t believe it. That’s not Winston, and if you have spent any time with him you’d know that.
Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org